On 9/30/2012 1:26 PM, Stephen P. King wrote:
On 9/30/2012 2:51 PM, meekerdb wrote:
On 9/30/2012 6:54 AM, Alberto G. Corona wrote:
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 flagela of the bacteria, invented about 3800 million years ago under intense comet bombardement.

Did you miss the word "macroscopic"?

Hi Brent,

Could it be that "legs" are more efficient in generating motion that can be directed than wheels?

They are more effective over rough surfaces and obstacles, which is no doubt why they evolved first.

For example, how do you propose that Nature would implement way to get blood and nerve signals across the gap in the bearings that is necessary in some form of "wheel". It is hard enough to get signals reliably across the boundary of the moving part of a wheel and the axle in the steering wheel of a car. How do you do implement an interface for liquids?

Exactly my point.  It's hard to get there from here.

The main unstated assumption in this conversation is that organism have to be mutually compatible to some degree with each other in order for "living" to occur. Evolution that does not "jump" gaps. /*Natura non facit saltus.*/

    Sometimes your remarks demonstrate a remarkable lack of imagination.

Or so you imagine.

Try to do it yourself in the same conditions ;). If there is no weel in natural evolution is because legs are far superior.

And if you think that weels are superior, NS invented it, because the invertor of the weel was a product of natural selection. Even your feeling of superiority of the weel 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 antropocentrism in its most dangerous form: Pride and self worship.

But NS couldn't 'invent' it for macroscopic size animals traveling on hard smooth surfaces, because it had already 'invented' legs and there was no evolutionary path from legs to wheels.

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

You mean the random events and the selection events - there are no *reasons*.

    That you can imagine, sure.

So are you contending that evolution is not driven by random variation? that there are secret reasons for what evolved? Sounds like "Intelligent Design".

behind an evolutionary design and therefor we can not understand FULY 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 comunicate with other modules in discrete ways. This is what is considered "good designs" ,.

Not in general. Some engineers consider it good design to make multiple uses of the same structure, e.g. there was a German motorcycle that used the gear shift lever to also serve as the kickstarter, more recently Ducati designed their racing motorcycles to be 'frameless', using the engine as the structural member.

So what? You are assuming an intelligent entity

I thought it was common knowledge that engineers are intelligent entities.

in your argument and complaining that Nature is stupid because it does not seem to do things as nicely as some tiny cherry-picked selection of human engineered designs. What is your purpose in this conversation? It is certainly not to increase the understanding of the members of this list!

It should improve Alberto's understanding who seems to be under the misapprehension that evolution will always produce a design that reason cannot improve on - and if it seems that reason can improve on it, it is just because evolution has foreseen a future in which its design will be better.

BUT THESE RULES OF GOOD DESIGN ARE A CONSEQUIENCE OF THE LIMITATIONS OF REASON. Reason does not produce optimal solutions. it produce the optimal solution that he can handle without breaking.

Not limitations, but the recognition that a modular design can be easily changed to solve problems, usually by changing one module. But with a non-modular design you may have to start over from scratch; which is why evolution gets stuck on local maxima like legs and no wheels. Incidentally Ducati's frameless design was a maintenance nightmare, didn't handle well, and couldn't be modified. They went back to a conventional frame.

Organism on Earth seem to have a basic structure that is modular, in that each cell has a power supply, guidance system and other components that, IMHO, match up well with Von Neumann universal constructor <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Von_Neumann_universal_constructor>.

It helps to come to the conversation with an attitude that is not happy to make perfection the enemy of the possible.

Natural selection takes the whole problem and produce the optimal solution without modular limitations. Starting from scratch, evolutionary algoritms 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, ligther, faster. it seems a "Bad" design but this is a subjective perception, as a consequience of our rational inherent limitations.

It is not a casual that genetic algoritms 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 algoritms for deducing the location of extinction resources in a simulated firing. The algoritm deduced the optimal location every time. the only problem is that we did not know WHY this was the optimal solution.

But in genetic-evolution algorithms you have the luxury of adjusting the randomness and of starting over from different initial values.

Sure, and you don't have to worry about being eaten as you adjust parameters and reset simulations.

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.

Some functions can, e.g. slavery, and some have unintended consequences.

Why do you require perfect prescience?

Where do I require perfect prescience? Alberto is the one saying don't try to use reason to improve things because nature is so much smarter than you. I'm saying ordinary, fallible human reason can, and has, improved things.

Consider how Sickle Cell Anemia has been found to offer a limited immunity to malaria in humans <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_resistance_to_malaria>. Nature is all about trade-offs and not about "perfect" schemata.

Tell it to Alberto.

That is why conservatives rely on nature where progressives rely on reason and this is the reason why the latter fail.

Conservatives are those who find themselves on top and call it 'natural'.

    LOL, where did you find that definition? Almost all "people at the top" are 

Really?  How many of the Fortune 400 are political liberals...three?...four?

You might like to look at some demographic studies ... "Liberal with others peoples money..." Conservatives are an entirely different kind of idiot.

But natural evolution does not start from scratch it has to modify previous designs for new needs, while reason without the help of tradiction, 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.

So now you are imagining foresight in evolution. Isn't it much simpler to just recognize it is a constraint that random variation is unlikely to change many things at once so as to 'start over with a clean sheet'.

    Could you write up a toy model of how that might happen?

Evolution design not for today, but from all times to al times, taking into account past, present and probable future events.

So that's why 99.9% of all its designs have gone extinct? Evolution doesn't design at all, it just randomizes and nature selects. The waste is enormous, but there's no accounting department to care.

    We agree on that!!!

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

You've only demonstrated your own prejudice against reason.

No, maybe just a prejudice against your particular form of "reason", Brent. Have you looked at Alberto's stuff? It is very sophisticated. I have a few problems with it, but at least he is making an honest attempt!

Evolution produces many designs that are suboptimal, because natural selection only requires that a design be 'good-enough':

Arthropods make an elastic protein, rezulin, which is much more elastic than that in molluscs (abductin) and in vertebrates (elastin). Thus a fly can flap it's wings with less energy loss than a horse can run or a scallop can swim.

    And both of those implementation are using cells structures that are very 

So why don't they all use the best material for the job?...because evolution depends on *random* variation and it only has to be good-enough to survive.

The nerves in a mammals eye join the photoreceptor cells at the end facing the pupil. They run across the inside surface of the retina and exit together. Where they exit they create a 'blind spot' in our field of vision. So, first, they partly obstruct the retina and, second, they create a blind spot.

Try to design an eye that uses liquid supplied nutrition (and excreta) that works as well and integrates well with the rest of the way that organisms are constructed. Please.

Look at a squids eye.  It's wired the right way around.

People swallow and breathe through a shared passage. A design that results in many deaths due to choking on food.

    Enough survive to reproduce.

Right. It doesn't have to a good design - just good enough.

Oxidation of fatty acids unnecessarily reverses the handedness of methylmaloyl.

    What biologically compatible mechanisms might prevent this?

No need to prevent it.  Some plants don't reverse it.

In the biosynthesis of some plant alkaloids, reticuline is formed in the S configuration and then inverted to the R configuration; a step which could have been avoided by just using the S form for all the alkaloids. Lysine is biosynthesized via two different parallel processes when one would have served.

    How might Nature segregate the enantiomers?

The designer of a larger and heavier vehicle on the softer surface uses more wheels to avoid sinking into the surface. Yet among animals the small ones, arthropods, have six or more legs; while the large animals have two or four. Why don't large heavy animals like elephants and rhinoceri have six or more legs?

To use a phrase from software: Backwards compatibility. Nature has not found a way to get a liquid based nutrition and excretion system to cross a rotation interface.

When animals with fur get cold little muscles attached to each hair folicle cause the hairs to stand up thus thickening the fur and increasing its insulative value. Humans also have these muscles which cause 'goosebumps' when we're cold. This increases our surface area and increases our loss of heat.

In the human male the urinary tract passes through the center of the prostate gland; a gland given to swelling. This stupid design causes a lot of pain and difficulty for older men.

    Men where never meant to live so long!


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