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Here's Why It's A Bit Fishy...

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Posted by Kyle on September 8, 2002 08:58:52 UTC

That was interesting, Mario!
Thereís a bunch of artificial-evolution computer sims out there using superfast generation times that produce some weird examples of Ďvirtual lifeí.
The radio receiver's "fishiness" is because they've removed a lot of the contingency that you get in biological evolution and they aimed for a predetermined outcome (oscillation). Plus it loses some of itís initial wow factor when you consider they only used 10 "genes" (trnasistors)and used strong selective pressure for their pre-determined end-product ie. theyíre selecting for something specific (like breeding a dog for a specific trait). The antennae seemed like the only contingent, unexpected outcome... and that was indeed cool!


The creationist/fundies' big problem on this topic is they canít see that evolutionary changes (in general) are cumulative. Their classic argument is the "monkeys on the typewriter producing Shakespeare" argument (ie. the probability of human life evolving ex nihilo is analogous to monkeys spontaneously typing out a Shakespearean play).
Again, NB. both the fundies' argument and the radio-receiver evolution simulation are strictly- speaking conceptually wrong because actual biological evolution should not be "directed" by some preconceived notion of what "should be." But if we ignore that for now, itís very possible that a monkey could indeed type Shakespeare:

Letís say a monkey typed random 13 letter sequences on a keyboard, how long would it take to type the word:

R A D I O R E C E I V E R

If it were not cumulative, it would take a relatively long time. The probability of spontaneously typing a longer piece like a Shakespearean play would be very tiny, even with vast amounts of time.

But if successful keystrokes were SAVED, then it would take a relatively SHORT time.

Here are some hypothetical cumulative trials (successes are saved and accumulated): Does real evolution work this way? Essentially, yes!

R A D I O R E C E I V E R

Trial #1.
Q Y D F O R P K M T X E S

Trial #2.
R F D P O R E U E M D E R

Trial #3.
R A D B O R E C E W V E R

Trial #4.
R A D I O R E C E S V E R

Trial # 5.
R A D I O R E C E I V E R



Classic examples: 'Intelligence' in early hominids accumulated "on top of" earlier bipedality. The evolution of the eye was again due to accumulation of changes.

-Kyle



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