21 July 2007

Quotable quote: definitely unnatural selection

He who would live must fight;
he who does not wish to fight
in this world where permanent struggle
is the law of life,
has not the right to exist.

— Adolf H, My Struggle

Something to bear in mind next time someone describes something as “natural selection” in action.

It also highlight’s FOSS’s non-destructive approach to development. Perhaps we should whomp up an official philosophy & call it:

“main() { kampf(); }?”


Major said...

I occasionally thought of you while I was doing Human Biology at UWA. The Anatomy department at UWA is extremely "evolutionist". They did however have something they regarded as sillier than creation science and that was the over-generalization beyond biology. We had at least 3 hours of lectures which could have been summarized in four words: Social Darwinism is crap.

Leon Brooks said...

Uh, yeah.

I wouldn’t be so selective in limiting my criticism that way.

Some of the other applications people find for the odder aspects of mutation plus selection are absolutely hilarious!

BTW, uncanny precognition again WRT PRep. Well done. If you can find a way to channel that, it’d be well marketeable.

Major said...

mutation plus selection is a fairly good search algorithm, especially if you add genome mixing (some analog of sex) and more so again if you have some analog of development to reduce the search space.

No precog involved. I visited Perth because he was ill. I was present at the end because his daughter called and said it was time.

Leon Brooks said...

Hmmm... I think this comes back to fighting, since in principle the major selective effect is early death due to unfitness.

So I guess you could view “existing long enough to work your way through something regarded as development” to be a survival trait in itself.

Major said...

(Not your fault, I wasn't clear)

By "development" I meant pre-birth.

The human genome has 10^9 symbols selected from a four symbol alphabet. Human brains have 10^10 neurons with 10^14 connections. Obviously the genome can't code the brain and yet it does. The missing link is a (in the case of Humans, hideously convoluted) development process.

There is a lot of interesting work coming out of the artificial life people on this (google "artificial ontogeny"). I expect it to start having spin-offs for non-Alife genetic algorithm types RSN.

Leon Brooks said...

Yeah, I missed that point. At least as much my blame as yours. (-:

However, “development” as such is no different from ordinary living, except that our prospective wee beastie doesn’t yet have to forage for food & drink, or figure out how to dispose of wastes.

With human beans, a remaining difference is in cells like brain cells, which don’t replicate or grow very much at all after birth.

Spin-offs for Alife people... now there’s a mind-boggling concept!

Major said...

With the possible exception of weeks when they have too close encounters with open car doors, born humans do not have whole structures appearing and disappearing on a weekly basis. First trimester fetuses do. This is a lot different to just eating and excreting (adults) or even eating, excreting and growing (kids).

Major said...

That should have been "first trimester embryo/fetus" of course. In fact most of the dramatic rearangements I am refering to occur in the embryonic period.