An excellent foray into such a topic is /Arrival of the Fittest: how nature innovates/ by Andreas Wagner.

From the Preface: the power of natural selection is beyond dispute, but this power has limits. Natural selection can /preserve/ innovations, but it cannot create them. And calling the change that creates them random is just another way of admitting our ignorance about it. Nature's any innovations- some uncannily perfect - call for natural principles that accelerate life's ability to innovate, its innovability.


Dave West turned me onto the book and has promised a discussion about how it is relevant to 'evolution' in software. It is certainly relevant to Nick's e-mail.

Jenny Quillien


On 8/9/2017 8:47 AM, Nick Thompson wrote:

Hi everybody,

Thanks for your patience as I emerge (hopefully) from post-surgical fog.

I figured I best start my own thread rather than gum up yours.

First. I had always supposed that a stochastic process was one whose value was determined by two factors, a random factor AND it’s last value. So the next step in a random walk is “random” but the current value (it’s present position on a surface, say) is “the result of a stochastic process.” From your responses, and from a short rummage in Wikipedia, I still can’t tell if I am correct or not.

Now remember, you guys, my standard critique of your discourse is that you confuse your models with the facts of nature. What is this “evolution” of which you speak? Unless you tell me otherwise, I will assume you are speaking of the messy biological process of which we are all a result: -- */The alteration of the design of taxa over time/*. Hard to see any way in which that actual process is evidently random. We have to dig deep into the theory that EXPLAINS evolution to find anything that corresponds to the vernacular notion of randomness. There is constraint and predictability all over the place in the evolution I know. Even mutations are predictable. In other words, the randomness of evolution is a creation of your imaginations concerning the phenomenon, not an essential feature of the phenomenon, itself.

So what kind of “evolution” are you guys talking about?

Yes, and forgive me for trolling, a bit. I am trying to wake myself up, here.

nick

Nicholas S. Thompson

Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Biology

Clark University

http://home.earthlink.net/~nickthompson/naturaldesigns/ <http://home.earthlink.net/%7Enickthompson/naturaldesigns/>



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