[extropy-chat] PLoS Biology - Balancing Robustness and Evolvability

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Wed Dec 13 15:41:43 UTC 2006

This essay appeared today on PLoS Biology on a topic of interest to
members of this list.  Although the article seems to contain some
misconceptions (even in the first paragraph, below) it also contains
some interesting concepts such as "survival of the flattest" and some
references to related papers.

- Jef


One of the most important features of biology is the ability of
organisms to persist in the face of changing conditions. Consider the
remarkable fact that every organism alive today is the product of
billions of generations in which its progenitors, without fail, managed
to produce progeny that survived to reproduce. To achieve this
consistency, organisms must have a balance between robustness and
evolvability, that is, between resisting and allowing change in their
own internal states [1-3]. Moreover, they must achieve this balance on
multiple time scales, including physiological responses to changes over
an individual life and evolutionary responses, in which a population of
genomes continually updates its encoded information about past
environments and how future generations should respond given that

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