[extropy-chat] limits of computer feeling

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Tue Mar 20 20:20:26 UTC 2007

On 3/20/07, Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 20, 2007 at 11:03:01AM -0700, Jef Allbright wrote:
> > On 3/20/07, Rafal Smigrodzki <rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com> wrote:
> > > It is interesting to note that we may be undergoing a transition from
> > > a Darwinian evolution to an almost exclusively Lamarckian mode.
> Sorry, I see no evidence Lamarck can outperform Darwin. Just being
> a good idea doesn't make it true, unfortunately.
> > > Acquired and desired characteristics will become heritable and will
> Fitness still applies (Lamarckian agents compete with Darwinian), so
> merely desired won't cut it. You have to guess the future fitness landcape.
> Computationally, a hard task.

### Evolution is computationally highly inefficient. It takes
mountains of dead bodies to come up with even trivial improvements. A
search through the design space of an enzyme may take millions of
years and staggering amounts of energy. Progress occurs as a
side-effect of humongous waste.

Intelligent design of offspring means using highly efficient
computational algorithms running on specifically designed hardware.
Searches through design spaces of enzymes may be soon feasible using
only kilowatts of energy. It will be possible to design whole new,
optimized metabolic networks from scratch, rather than cobble together
old, only marginally appropriate ones.

It is true that the designers do not have a god's eye view of the
fitness landscape but then evolution doesn't either. In fact, where
the designers can look ahead to the next few kinks in the metabolism
or synaptic wiring, evolution is perfectly blind. There is absolutely
no foresight in this process, mistakes are repeated millions of times,
mutational moves are made with the same likelihood independently of
their results on fitness.

Lamarckian agents will be ultimately judged by their fitness, I agree,
but given their improved computational efficiency, they should handily
outcompete Darwinians, as long as this is what they desire.


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