[ExI] Evolution

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Sat May 23 05:27:20 UTC 2020

On Friday, May 22, 2020, 03:58:56 AM PDT, John Clark via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote: 

On Thu, May 21, 2020 at 4:11 PM The Avantguardian via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

>> the error rate that you and John complain about is an essential part of evolution.

> True, and that is yet another reason why Evolution is a ridiculously silly way to get things done. Natural selection can't select for a helpful positive mutation if it doesn't exist in the gene pool, and the overwhelming majority of random changes to your genome would be strongly negative, and even the very rare positive changes are only slightly positive.  That's because there are just more ways for something to work badly than the number of ways for something to work well, so it's very unlikely that hitting your car engine with a sledge hammer will improve its performance.

It is true that deleterious mutations are more common than beneficial ones. It is the price that life pays for searching fitness-space for greener pastures on the other side of the valley of death. That being said, automotive engines display a different sort of complexity than living systems. The complexity of the car engine is imposed upon it a top-down fashion. Because of that, the engine's parts are very specialized and essential. This has the effect of making the engine brittle and failure-prone. 

Living things, on the other hand display a bottom-up emergent complexity that results in a robust system with expendable redundant parts that can change their specialization to compensate for damaged and missing parts. I think that living things of comparable mass to a car engine would be able to fare getting hit by a sledge hammer better than a car engine. When a machine loses a cog, it ceases to function. When an animal loses a leg, it learns to run around without it.

> It's why it took Evolution 3 billion years to go from inventing bacteria to inventing brains good enough to have a technology. It took a long time but now with brains there is a new guy in town, we only invented electronic computers about 70 years ago and look how far we've come.


In 1848, a railroad worker named Phineas Gage had a three foot iron bar blasted completely through his skull and brain by an explosive charge. Mr. Gage nonetheless continued to function quite well actually. My laptop or most technology today could not survive that. I am not saying that technology might not someday get there. It just isn't there yet.

Stuart LaForge

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