Nate Cull disagrees with a point  the editor quoted from Rupert Sheldrake
Just one comment, and unfortunately it is a
critique, but I think I need to footnote this for any readers coming
from computer science. The statement "No machine starts from small
beginnings, grows, forms new structures within itself and then
reproduces itself." isn't actually true of, and hasn't been since the
invention of the von Neumann architecture digital computer in the late
1940s.

Recursive programs are very common in programming. And they do in fact
exhibit exactly this "organic" character: they start from small fixed
kernels of code, they grow by allocating and copying new objects in the
form of memory spaces or threads of execution, and they most certainly
can and do reproduce themselves. That self-replicating nature is why
worms, viruses botnets and the other "malware" that plagues the Net are
so troublesome.

It's true that software machines require a basline prebuilt
infrastructure (a CPU and storage space) to exist, and that we can't yet
build a purely *physical* machine which can restructure itself out of
raw atoms like plants and animals do. But you would not, I think argue
that software programs are not machines. And since machines can
self-replicate in software, there seems no particularly good reason why
it should be impossible to do it in hardware.

John von Neumann himself proposed this idea around the same time as he
designed the digital computer;  Google for "von Neumann machine",
"replicator" or "nanoassembler" (even "3d printer") and you'll see the
more than half-century scientific discussion about this idea.

I suspect that recursion itself is not quite sufficient to explain all
the behaviour of organic lifeforms. But to claim that recursion and
self-replication are exclusively organic abilities is overstretching,
and if Sheldrake indeed is claiming this, then I'm very disappointed in
him.