[ExI] Essential Upload Data
rocket at earthlight.com
Thu May 21 14:56:19 UTC 2020
Ben, I should have clarified. I didn't mean evolution was consciously
creative, which the word "brilliant" evokes. I meant the power of it is
often surprising, and the solutions it arrives at (I'm thinking of the
Robby the Robot cleaning algorithm - a program which creates a search path
for a autonomous robot in a maze, picking up trash in cubicles on the path.
Evolutionary algorithms find optimal pathways far faster than human
programmers do for the robot) are more efficient than the ones directed
human programmers some up with.
And, I disagree that deliberate design works better than evolution for all
tasks. In fact I'd even go so far as to vehemently disagree with that
statement. Humans meddle and break things, they overdesign, they
"paper-over" or build around errors, they make things that emit toxins and
then ignore the toxins, they cannot foresee unforeseen consequences, the
things they make wear out and become obsolete. Not always good. The other
part of that discussion would be the human engineering of things like
machines, and mathematics, and cities, and the like, but even then I think
evolution finds the best solution once the process is started. We call that
evolution "capitalisim" and/or "free market".
It's amazing, though, what "good enough" can do - look at the effectiveness
and anti-fragility of all the interacting biochemical pathways which make
up metabolic systems across species. Or the metabolic design of
extremophiles. Or the effectiveness of the simple honeybee brain. I could
keep naming biological miracles but you could also just go outside and look
at the delicate structure and variety of color and fragrence (for
communication!) of your local flowers, or check out any bird, lizard or
ant, or even microbes - and try to design one from scratch. Evolution did
all that. I still think it's, well, if not truly brilliant, then hugely
awesome in the true sense of the word.
Date: Wed, 20 May 2020 21:56:18 +0100
From: Ben <ben at zaiboc.net>
To: extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
Subject: [ExI] Evolution (was: Re: Essential Upload Data)
Message-ID: <c9077827-4299-7bf4-123b-8dcaeb1eb093 at zaiboc.net>
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On 20/05/2020 13:49, Re Rose wrote:
> EVOLUTION FINDS BRILLIANT SOLUTIONS to many problems, and even
> evolutionary algorithims?quickly lead to novel and adaptable
> solutions! Don't be mean to evolution.
Evolution definitely does not come up with 'brilliant' solutions to any
problems. That's not how it works. It comes up with just-good-enough
solutions, that result in more offspring. That's its job, that's all it
has to do, and that's all it does, or even can do.
This is why we have such terrible solutions as the recurrent laryngeal
nerve, the inside-out mammalian eye, and the ridiculously inefficent
Okazaki fragments in DNA replication, that /every single organism on the
earth/ is stuck with. Don't tell me that these are 'brilliant
solutions'. They are afwul bodges. But they work just well enough to not
kill a potential parent before it can produce offspring. It's these
kinds of things that show the 'intelligent design' religious nuts to be
It's not being mean to point out that evolution is a bit like democracy,
in that it's a terrible system, but the best one we know of. So far.
In fact, that's not really true. We don't know what system would work
better than democracy, but we do actually know that deliberate design
usually works much better than evolution. That includes using
evolutionary algorithms, because there is a meta level sitting above it
that makes deliberate decisions about the longer-term usefulness of an
evolved system, instead of blind selection for fitness under local
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