Re: [GP] OpEd article on evolutionary computation and intelligent design
- 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' )))
On 8/29/05, Lee Spector <lspector@...> wrote:
> 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.
> 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
> 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]
- On Aug 29, 2005, at 3:18 PM, Varun Aggarwal wrote:
> Unfathomable is the intellect of the being who created 'life' andHow wondrously has the Flying Spaghetti Monster convinced us of His
> 'humans'.... at the same time doing it an a way that his creation is
> into deducing that Evolution has done it all.
Very impressive letter Lee!