Revival of Richards excellent demonstration of Evolution from The Blind Watch Maker

Apr 16, 2013


Discussion by: krakjoe

So, with a bit of time to kill, I thought I'd revive a demonstration I saw on The Blind Watch Maker documentary …

http://pastehtml.com/view/cyw0ntivg.html

Reasonable minds can only come to one conclusion can't they ??

11 comments on “Revival of Richards excellent demonstration of Evolution from The Blind Watch Maker

  • 1
    EndlessFormsMostBeautifulAndMostWonderful says:

    Does anyone else remember the demonstration he did in his christmas lecture back in the 90’s?
    The phrase was ”More gitting in my desires than a monkey”. Dawkins then signed a legal document betting everything he owned that the Darwin-program would reach the targeted phrase first.



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  • Thanks, I’ve never seen this before although I read about it in his book. Like you, I consider myself a ‘reasonable mind” and so find this demonstration amazing!



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  • In reply to #1 by EndlessFormsMostBeautifulAndMostWonderful:

    Does anyone else remember the demonstration he did in his christmas lecture back in the 90’s?
    The phrase was ”More gitting in my desires than a monkey”. Dawkins then signed a legal document betting everything he owned that the Darwin-program would reach the targeted phrase first.

    Is it on youtube ??

    The notion that randomness is powerful is not foreign to me, computer hardware uses randomness all the time, mostly to extract more performance from hardware. However, this experiment is still counter intuitive; try running the experiment with all the text on the page, I think the result is quite interesting. You would imagine that all the text would take orders of magnitude longer to generate, but it just doesn’t, there doesn’t seem to be a direct relationship, expressible as a formula, between complexity and time. Fascinating … to me, it seems that nature done the simplest thing it could do, this is the result …

    Of course, I am aware this is highly simplified, if I knew anything about biochemistry I think actually I could write software to follow exactly (to within a reasonable margin) the trajectory of evolution, it must be that as complexity increases the ability to copy becomes deteriorated, but I’m not sure about the degrees over time. Also, this creates much more mutated forms in the beginning, I’m not sure how accurate that is, my uneducated guess would be that this is not correct … other than that, I think it’s a more credible experiment than Richard gave it credit for. Richard said in the Blind Watch Maker that because the program aims at a predetermined target it is not like evolution, but I tend to disagree, the nature of the program is to reproduce as successfully as possible, in a metaphorical sense, the target sentence is survival itself, the aim of all things …

    It’s a very interesting experiment, from just about every angle, even if it doesn’t exactly express what evolution does: as a thought experiment, as a possible way to implement other vastly powerful implementations of an algorithm on massive sets of data ( I am still pondering this, I don’t think I have chosen too, my addiction wins out, all the time ), and as a tool to realize that randomness is one of the most powerful things we know about, it is just very difficult to use successfully, simplicity appears to the key …

    I’d be interested in writing up any other experiments for us to play with in our browsers, I wonder what else I can find out …

    I’m kind of coming round to the notion of intelligent design, I think that you can think about it completely differently, we are intelligently designed, by orgnisms themselves !!! If there were no decisions, more precisely, purposeful decisions working toward a target, involved, if every organism just reproduced without a care for survival, life would look much different, possibly more diverse with much more dead ends. We are the intelligent designers, choosing the right candidates for reproduction, finding better ways to survive for longer, developing ways to force other organisms to become dependent, let that be the meaning of intelligent design and I’d be a fully paid up member 😀

    What I find genuinely hard to understand is that evolution is based on the premise of incremental changes over time, even if you gave me all the numbers, I’m pretty sure time has not much to do with it … and you can see that for yourself, what seems to matter is the way in which mutations take place. If the assumption that time is all that is required to create complexity were true, then why were there no intelligent dinosaurs, intelligent enough to survive whatever happened to them.
    Here’s an interesting thought, that kinda fits with history …it seems that animals need to be of sufficient complexity to control their own destiny, reproduce, survive in a purposeful way, before actual intelligence can arise. It could be that very slow Darwinian means took us from single cells to something like the mamals around at the time of the dinosaurs, and the dinosaurs themselves … but then something happened, completely by chance as is seemingly the nature of these things, or maybe a change in our environment for animals that survived the winter that killed the dinosaurs, who knows, I’d like to think there’s a reason … I digress, the point is that I concede that life is probably just “what biology does”, but intelligence, I am not so sure. I think its quite naive to say that intelligence has only had one chance, it demonstrably has not. I think intelligence is the random product of a non-random process which is itself the product of a non-random process … I wonder if we’ll ever find out what turns life into intelligent life, I mean really intelligent life … it’s an interesting thought …



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  • A thought occurs, “the random product, of a non-random process, which is itself the product of a non-random process” … I’m not messing about, that’s the description of an (advanced, distributed even) software pattern to create a unique id … this is something we actually do in the real world, all the time, with computers … fascinated just isn’t the word …

    If we could reverse engineer the process of evolution, that’d give us two, amazing abilities:

    • Firstly, it would be no kind of challenge to emulate it: I mean actual artificial intelligence, with as much free will as you or me …
    • Secondly, we could manipulate it as well as the hardware enabling you to read my thoughts: we could literally control our own destiny as a species, wipe out all disease, breathe air from other worlds, create bio-mechanical suits enabling us to walk on the bottom of the earths deepest oceans, the list is endless …

    Unfortunately, I don’t think I can get any time off … there’s probably people working on it …



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  • I think the simulation is inaccurate. Evolution is not directed towards a certain end and there are more than 1 method to adapt to an environment. It does not need to be the best way either, just being sufficient is enough.



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  • In reply to #7 by adiroth:

    I think the simulation is inaccurate. Evolution is not directed towards a certain end and there are more than 1 method to adapt to an environment. It does not need to be the best way either, just being sufficient is enough.

    It’s kind of directed at survival wouldn’t you say ?

    There is many ways also to come to the same solution, in the example, run it many times and watch them, if you can see them …

    I know it’s not a great simulation anyway, but I think it is directed, by survival …

    I’d really like it if we could define a way to emulate it in a simple way, so we could watch it, see what affects it, software emulate it in a way … I guess what I’m saying it, it would be nice to … play god ?



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  • 10
    EndlessFormsMostBeautifulAndMostWonderful says:

    *In reply to #3 by krakjoe

    It is on youtube. Dawkins did his christmas lectures in five parts. They had the following titels:
    – Growning up in the Univers.
    – Designed and Designoid Objects.
    – Climbing Mount Improbable.
    – The Ultraviolet Garden.
    – The Genesis of Purpose.

    The lecture with the ”all in” demonstration was either Climbing Mount Improbable or Designed and Designoid Objects. However, all of the lectures are found on youtube.



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