domingo, 30 de septiembre de 2012

Natural designs exceed rational designs and rational understanding



This is my response to someone somewhere:



Whoever said that, does not know what he says:



"There are great differences between evolutionary designs and rational design, rational designs are, well, rational, but

evolutionary designs are idiotic. Mother Nature (Evolution) is a slow and stupid tinkerer, it had over 3 billion years to work on the problem but it couldn't even come up with a macroscopic part that could rotate in 360 degrees! Rational designers had less difficulty coming up with the wheel. The only advantage Evolution had is that until it managed to invent brains it was the only way complex objects could get built."


First of all, 360 degrees rotation is present in the flagella of the bacteria, invented about 3800 million years ago under intense comet bombardment.
Try to do it yourself in the same conditions ;). If there is no wheel in natural evolution is because legs are far superior.

And if you think that wheels are superior, NS invented it, because the inventor of the wheel was a product of natural selection. Even your feeling of superiority of the wheel and the very feeling of superiority of reason is a product of natural selection.  The claim of superiority of reason over nature is the last vestige of  unjustified anthropocentric in its most dangerous form: Pride and self worship.

And second, with more relaxed mood, I have to say, as I said many times here, that evolution works simultaneously with infinite variables and problems at the same time: log term and short term. Therefore we NEVER are sure of knowing in FULL the reasons behind an evolutionary design and therefore we can not understand FULLY an evolutionary design. That gives evolutionary design an appearance of mess poor design and so on. This is NOT the case. If evolution and reason collide, the prudent is to consider that the reason don´t know enough.
That is because Reason work to solve a single problem, Cognitive scientist say that  can handle no more than seven variables at the same time for a single problem.

THAT is the reason WHY the human designs are made of modules with discrete interfaces. No matter if we talk about architecture, computer science or social engineering, Each rational design module solves a single problem and communicate with other modules in discrete ways. This is what is considered "good designs" ,. BUT THESE RULES OF GOOD DESIGN ARE A CONSEQUENCE OF THE LIMITATIONS OF REASON.  Reason does not produce optimal solutions. it produce the optimal solution that he can handle without breaking. 

Natural selection takes the whole problem and produce the optimal solution without modular limitations. Starting from scratch, evolutionary algorithms have designed electronic circuits with a half or a third of components, that are more fast that the equivalent rational designs.  As Koza, for example has done:


These circuits designs are impossible to understand rationally. why? because they are not modular. There is no division of the problem in smaller problems. a transistor may be connected to more than one input or output and so on. But they are better, lighter  faster. it seems a "Bad" design but this is a subjective perception, as a consequence of our rational inherent limitations.

It is not a casual that genetic algorithms are used whenever  1) it is or very difficult to break a problem  in parts 2) is easy to measure how good a solution is.

 I have used genetic-evolutionary algorithms for deducing the location of extinction resources in a simulated fire. The algorithm deduced the optimal location every time. the only problem is that we did not know WHY this was the optimal solution.

In the same way, an human organ can perform 3 4 5 functionalities at the same time. the capillar tubes in a tree act as pumps, conducts, architectural sustaining foundation and may be many more that still we don´t know.

In the same way societies are subjects of evolution. A natural socio-biological institution, like the family has many functions, far more than the social engineers think. Its functions can not be extracted away by public institutions  ruled by social engineers without a failure of the whole society.

That is why conservatives rely on nature  where progressivists rely on reason and this is the reason why the latters fail miserably.

But natural evolution does not start from scratch it has to modify previous designs for new needs, while reason without the help of tradition  operates from scratch.  But this is not a drawback but an advantage for evolution, since the problems of the past may not happen in the present, but probably they will happen in the future. Evolution design not for today, but from all times to al times, taking into account past, present and probable future events.

Natural adaptation  exceeds  not only the capabilities of rational design  but also the rational understanding, as I have  demonstrated

4 comentarios:

  1. Even granting, for the sake of the argument, that "evolutionary designs are idiotic", there remains the fact that evolution has a hell of a lot of resurces (not the least of them: time) to prune out the most idiotic 99.9999999...% of them. What remains amounts to genius.

    You've said: "the _reasons_ behind an evolutionary design"... Oops! Wouldn't something like "the _history_ behind an evolutionary design" be better?

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    Respuestas
    1. Even granting, for the sake of the argument, that "evolutionary designs are idiotic", there remains the fact that evolution has a hell of a lot of resurces (not the least of them: time) to prune out the most idiotic 99.9999999...% of them. What remains amounts to genius.

      yep.

      You've said: "the _reasons_ behind an evolutionary design"... Oops! Wouldn't something like "the _history_ behind an evolutionary design" be better?

      Well it would be better "the evolutionary pressures that an evolutionary design tries to solve"

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    2. "Evolutionary pressures" is better indeed.

      But "tries to solve"... That's substituting Will for Reason as the driving force of evolution. Still too anthropomorphic for my liking.

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    3. Yep.
      there is a anthropomorfization or better, a living impulse involved in this expression, but it is acceptable not only as a rethorical recourse. That is the teleology that selection induces from the non teleologic substrate of material laws. it is the driving force that creates emergence of meaning and purpose from previous levels of non teleologic and non purposeful laws. In this way selection creates plant life from non life. from this substrate, selection creates the teleology of instinctive avoidance of pain and search for pleasure of animals. from this substrate, selction induces the next level: Avoid evil and search for knowledge , truth and the good of men in society. there are more levels of course.

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