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Re: [GP] OpEd article on evolutionary computation and intelligent design

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  • Varun Aggarwal
    Just a Philosophical THOUGHT Unfathomable is the intellect of the being who created life and humans .... at the same time doing it an a way that his
    Message 1 of 3 , Aug 29, 2005
      Just a Philosophical THOUGHT
      Unfathomable is the intellect of the being who created 'life' and
      'humans'.... at the same time doing it an a way that his creation is bluffed
      into deducing that Evolution has done it all.

      [That is what we call closing the path of reverse engineering OR even worse
      confusing the hacker -- An engineer's perspective]
      ((( SORRY TO PUT ON THE GP LIST, COULDNT KEEP MYSELF BACK ON READING
      SOMETHING ON 'INTELLIGENT DESIGN' )))

      --Varun
      Aug 2005

      On 8/29/05, Lee Spector <lspector@...> wrote:
      >
      >
      > GPers,
      >
      > I thought that some of you might be interested in the following OpEd
      > article of mine, which was published in today's Boston Globe. I
      > apologize for the lack of scientific detail and nuance here, but I
      > blame some of it on the editing process for these things, which cut a
      > lot (including some cuts that I didn't see until it was published).
      > The earlier version said some more explicitly GPish things, gave a
      > little more of the field's history, etc. But the published piece does
      > make the core points that I wanted to make, including the point that
      > evolutionary computation is a grand thing.
      >
      > -Lee
      >
      >
      > -----
      >
      > http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/
      > 2005/08/29/and_now_digital_evolution/
      >
      >
      > And now, digital evolution
      > By Lee Spector | August 29, 2005
      >
      > RECENT developments in computer science provide new perspective on
      > ''intelligent design," the view that life's complexity could only
      > have arisen through the hand of an intelligent designer. These
      > developments show that complex and useful designs can indeed emerge
      > from random Darwinian processes.
      >
      > Most scientists agree that the argument for intelligent design, which
      > is over 200 years old, was put to rest by Darwin in 1859 and by the
      > subsequent triumphs of 20th century biology. Nonetheless, President
      > Bush recently advocated teaching intelligent design in schools along
      > with evolutionary theory. School boards around the country, most
      > notably in Kansas, are staking out similar positions. What can
      > account for the persistence of this long-discredited idea?
      >
      > Scientific illiteracy is certainly part of the explanation, but other
      > factors are also at play. Prominent among them is the fact that
      > discussions about evolution are usually discussions about the origins
      > of the discussants themselves. We tend to hold our own species in
      > high regard and to look down on random and mechanical processes. Our
      > appreciation for the magnificence of humanity, and of all life, is
      > well grounded but it may also blind us in ways that we are not
      > blinded when studying rocks or electricity.
      >
      > Thanks to technology, however, we can now explore evolution without
      > discussing ourselves and without even discussing life. We can do this
      > by building evolutionary processes into computer programs. When we do
      > this we do not find that our appreciation for the magnificence of
      > life is in any way diminished. Rather, we find that our appreciation
      > for the power of evolution is amplified.
      >
      > A growing sub-field of computer science is devoted to ''evolutionary
      > computation." The user of such a system specifies the ingredients
      > that can be used and how the ''goodness" of any particular design can
      > be measured. The system then creates and tests thousands or millions
      > of random combinations of the ingredients. The better combinations
      > are allowed to produce ''children" by mutation (random changes) and
      > recombination (random part-swapping). This often produces, after many
      > generations, genuinely novel and useful designs and inventions.
      >
      > Evolutionary computation has proven to be useful for solving
      > practical problems. It has been adopted by researchers and engineers,
      > and it is the focus of scholarly journals and international conferences.
      >
      > One of the major conferences offers cash prizes for ''human-
      > competitive" results; that is, for cases in which evolution has out-
      > designed human beings. To win the prize contestants must show that
      > their systems equaled or improved upon the performance of humans as
      > measured by such criteria as patents and peer-reviewed publications.
      > In 2004 I shared the ''gold medal" with a team from NASA that evolved
      > an antenna for the Space Technology 5 mission.
      >
      > My entry involved the evolution of quantum computing circuits, which
      > are difficult for humans to understand or design. More to the point,
      > they are extremely difficult for ME to understand or design, and I
      > could never have produced the results on my own. I am not a designer
      > equal to that task, but evolution is. I created the ''primordial
      > ooze" out of which quantum circuits could grow, and I wrote the
      > programs for random variation and selection. But evolution did the
      > heavy lifting.
      >
      > Of course biological evolution and evolutionary computation differ.
      > Engineers using evolutionary computation specify explicit measures of
      > ''goodness" that govern selection, while biological selection is
      > governed only by survival and the ability to reproduce. In addition,
      > biologists now understand that processes other than natural
      > selection, for example symbiosis and influences during development,
      > also contribute to evolution. But evolutionary computation and
      > biological evolution are both fundamentally driven by random
      > variation and selection, and the successes of one hint at the power
      > of the other.
      >
      > It is easy to appreciate the power of selection operating on random
      > variation when it is stripped of its emotion-laden connections to
      > human origins and is shown to be capable of designing complex
      > solutions to difficult problems. If one extrapolates this power to a
      > system the size of the Earth, then it may not be such a stretch to
      > imagine that evolution could produce the stunning complexity and
      > beauty of our biosphere. Viewed in this light, Darwinian evolution is
      > itself a designer worthy of significant respect, if not religious
      > devotion.
      >
      >
      > Lee Spector, professor of computer science at Hampshire College, is
      > the author of ''Automatic Quantum Computer Programming: A Genetic
      > Programming Approach."
      >
      > --
      > Lee Spector, Professor of Computer Science
      > School of Cognitive Science, Hampshire College
      > 893 West Street, Amherst, MA 01002-3359
      > lspector@..., http://hampshire.edu/lspector/
      > Phone: 413-559-5352, Fax: 413-559-5438
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Sean Luke
      ... How wondrously has the Flying Spaghetti Monster convinced us of His Unneccessity! :-) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster Very
      Message 2 of 3 , Aug 29, 2005
        On Aug 29, 2005, at 3:18 PM, Varun Aggarwal wrote:

        > Unfathomable is the intellect of the being who created 'life' and
        > 'humans'.... at the same time doing it an a way that his creation is
        > bluffed
        > into deducing that Evolution has done it all.

        How wondrously has the Flying Spaghetti Monster convinced us of His
        Unneccessity! :-)
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster

        Very impressive letter Lee!

        Sean
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