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Author Topic:   Can the theory of evolution be applied to non-living things?
Lammy
Member
Posts: 3578
From: Chicago
Joined: 03-29-2004


Message 1 of 27 (105787)
05-05-2004 11:58 PM


Recently, someone on this forum has started to question what I have thought all along to be part of the theory of evolution, that the theory only dealt with living things. Look here Message 14 where Parasomnium first questioned my belief.

Parasomnium proposed that simulation of the effects of evolution shows that evolution can occur in non-living things. Although I disagree with this view, I am certainly open to the possibility and change my mind.

Can evolution be applied to non-living things?

This message has been edited by AdminSylas, 05-06-2004 12:37 AM


The Laminator


Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by tsjok45, posted 05-06-2004 5:41 AM Lammy has not yet responded
 Message 5 by Wounded King, posted 05-06-2004 6:14 AM Lammy has not yet responded
 Message 15 by Brad McFall, posted 05-06-2004 4:24 PM Lammy has not yet responded

    
AdminSylas
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 27 (105800)
05-06-2004 1:41 AM


Minor edits applied, and removed the forum link for the cited message. (Use a negative of forum number f in [msg=f,t,p].) Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

This forum is "Biological Evolution"; but the question is about non-biological evolution. I think I have picked the right forum, since I understand this to be asking if ideas in biological evolution can generalize more widely.

This message has been edited by AdminSylas, 05-06-2004 12:46 AM


  
tsjok45
Inactive Member


Message 4 of 27 (105829)
05-06-2004 5:41 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Lammy
05-05-2004 11:58 PM


Hi ,

I wonder
Can evolution be applied to non-living things?

I propose that it can be applied to all non-living things that are "caused" by living things

or
"any surviving information-set " in any living medium that is expressed as a "thing "in that environment or actually constructed in the real world outside any brain ---> that includes written out
programs ,(genetic algorythms ? invented or discovered ? ) printed texts , CD roms and other short or long surviving " memories "
( ---> also updateable " patterns" in the
human memory carriers of the brain ? )

---> bacterial products ( for example ---> bacteria concentrating chemicals from solutions ) Bird nests , spider webs, bee hives ,houses , memes , machines , , structured societies (with "tought up " rules and laws )
, multinationals ... even hobby clubs and discussion boards .... etc ...

What is important to emphasize is
that these "objects " do not reproduce /duplicate by themselves(yet) : they still need to be "constructed" or
"manufactured "by living intermediates

____ or at least do they need repalecement - repairs ---> for example multinational companies
do replace their managers , owners , stock holders , production and selling personnel and everything else you can
think up in human components ....in fact these "organisms" do "metabolise" and replace/ recycle their "human" resources ,
quite like a multicellular living thing does ...and they compete with each other for the sake of survival and eventually
split into offsprings : they also merge ( fusions) .... and they
even pick up "valuable" collaborators ( head hunting )they can put to valuable use --> just like bacteria do while picking up genes in "gene transfer " from other bacteria ( and even eucaryot cells )

---> The best analogons in the "living world " for many of these kinds of "products " (lets forget the
more complicated organisations like multinationals and companies mentioned above, for the moment .... ) are virusses
(and all kinds of other parasites too---> for example wohlbachia bacteria and cytoplasma parasites/commensals
but let's stick to virusses ---> which are not considered as fully "alife ", by some )

---> they too are
duplicating their own programs while using "production units " and "construction machineries and production lines"
of independently auto-replicators , by " injecting " their own "construction programs" in the "information libraries "or by
replacing certain " orders and procedural pathways " in the" production units"programmation ...

Do you think that the many data from these various fields can be blended into answers relevant to the question ?
and if so where can we find these supports ?
Or do I make too much( wrong ) analogies ?

p.s.
Excuse me , but English is not my native language
Therefore it is possible that my ideas are expressed in a very
complicated and "strange" way ... however , that never was the intention ...

I 'll appreciate some feed back
and please correct me if i'am wrong

Tsjok


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Lammy, posted 05-05-2004 11:58 PM Lammy has not yet responded

  
Wounded King
Member (Idle past 2044 days)
Posts: 4149
From: Edinburgh, Scotland
Joined: 04-09-2003


Message 5 of 27 (105832)
05-06-2004 6:14 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Lammy
05-05-2004 11:58 PM


To a large extent this is going to rely very much on how you choose to define both 'living things' and 'evolution'.

As far as I can tell all you really need for evolution is something capable of imperfect self-replication and perhaps some selective factor. If you think of evolution strictly as a change in allele frequencies in a population then obviously only things posessing alleles are suitable, so perhaps a definition of an allele would be important as well.

I would certainly agree with parasomnium that you can get very sophisticated evolutionary programs on computers nowadays and there are a lot of interesting papers looking at evolutionary systems in Tierra and Avida. I suppose the question is whether you would consider the code organisms in these programs to be actually evolving or merely undergoing a simulation of evolution, is there a difference?

There are other grey areas such as viruses which are on the debatable border between life and non-life but which clearly evolve and are at least clearly in posession of alleles.

Outside of those sort of things I think it all gets highly speculative. Lee Smolin proposed that if black holes gave rise to other 'universes' then a form of natural selection might operate to select for universes giving rise to more and more black holes. This idea relies on a whole stack of pretty hefty assumptions however such as that the physical 'constants' of the mother universe determine in some way those of its 'children' to allow for a heritable element.

What are your views on 'living' and 'evolution'? That might help to frame the discussion a bit more clearly.

TTFN,

WK


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Lammy, posted 05-05-2004 11:58 PM Lammy has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by Parasomnium, posted 05-06-2004 6:58 AM Wounded King has responded

    
Parasomnium
Member (Idle past 646 days)
Posts: 2191
Joined: 07-15-2003


Message 6 of 27 (105840)
05-06-2004 6:58 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Wounded King
05-06-2004 6:14 AM


2B v ~2B a simulation
Lam, could you please respond to Message 22?

Tsjok, English isn't my native language either, but that doesn't prevent me from fashioning my texts in a readable format. As it stands now, your text didn't invite me to actually read it. You could also improve things by cutting down on your liberal use of brackets.

WK, you said:

I suppose the question is whether you would consider the code organisms in these programs to be actually evolving or merely undergoing a simulation of evolution, is there a difference?

Semantically, 'simulation of evolution' isn't the same as 'evolution', but in a computer programme the effect of a simulation of evolution is the same as that of the real thing.


"It's amazing what you can learn from DNA." - Desdamona.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Wounded King, posted 05-06-2004 6:14 AM Wounded King has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by Wounded King, posted 05-06-2004 8:09 AM Parasomnium has responded
 Message 14 by Lammy, posted 05-06-2004 4:20 PM Parasomnium has responded

  
Wounded King
Member (Idle past 2044 days)
Posts: 4149
From: Edinburgh, Scotland
Joined: 04-09-2003


Message 7 of 27 (105853)
05-06-2004 8:09 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Parasomnium
05-06-2004 6:58 AM


Re: 2B v ~2B a simulation
But if the thing undergoing the simulation of evolution is a simulated living thing, in terms of imperfect reproduction etc.. Then are you showing that non-living things can evolve or simply that simulated living things can undergo simulated evolution?

TTFN,

WK


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Parasomnium, posted 05-06-2004 6:58 AM Parasomnium has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by Parasomnium, posted 05-06-2004 9:05 AM Wounded King has responded

    
Parasomnium
Member (Idle past 646 days)
Posts: 2191
Joined: 07-15-2003


Message 8 of 27 (105858)
05-06-2004 9:05 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Wounded King
05-06-2004 8:09 AM


Re: 2B v ~2B a simulation
Damaged Monarch,

1. A simulation is by definition not the real thing. So a simulation of a living thing is not a living thing. So all simulated living things are non-living things. (But not all non-living things are simulated living things.)

2. If data in a computer is changing via an evolutionary algorithm, then the question of whether the process should be called a simulation or not, is irrelevant, because the fact remains that the data is really changing. Judging from the result, a simulated evolution is indistinguisable from a real evolution.

So what the example shows is that at least some non-living things can evolve.


"It's amazing what you can learn from DNA." - Desdamona.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by Wounded King, posted 05-06-2004 8:09 AM Wounded King has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 10 by Wounded King, posted 05-06-2004 1:15 PM Parasomnium has responded

  
RRoman
Inactive Member


Message 9 of 27 (105958)
05-06-2004 1:09 PM


http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Bit/4699/


"Knowledge is Power" - Francis Bacon
  
Wounded King
Member (Idle past 2044 days)
Posts: 4149
From: Edinburgh, Scotland
Joined: 04-09-2003


Message 10 of 27 (105961)
05-06-2004 1:15 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Parasomnium
05-06-2004 9:05 AM


Re: 2B v ~2B a simulation
Presumably however that relies on your evolutionary algorithm being exactly identical to the rules, whatever they are, governing evolution in the real world. Otherwise surely all you have is an algorithm which approximates how we think evolution works in the real world.

One could develop evolutionary algorithms with weightings which would run along distinctly different lines to what we observe in real life.

Are the products of these algorithms truly evolved or merely iteratively processed? Is there, indeed, a difference?

Perhaps if you told me how you personally define both living things and evolution it would help. Indeed the difference between simulated evolution and evolution and simulated living organisms and actual living organisms is surely the same one you were dismissing as merely semantic previously. Perhaps what the code is actually simulating is a genome, could you have a real organism with a simulated genome?

We can't really deal in specifics until we all have a shared view of what we are talking about.

TTFN,

WK


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Parasomnium, posted 05-06-2004 9:05 AM Parasomnium has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 16 by Parasomnium, posted 05-06-2004 4:54 PM Wounded King has not yet responded

    
jar
Member
Posts: 30934
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 11 of 27 (105963)
05-06-2004 1:19 PM


If an independant observer
could not tell whether what was being observed was real or simulated, is there a difference?


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
Replies to this message:
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extremophile
Member (Idle past 3545 days)
Posts: 53
Joined: 08-23-2003


Message 12 of 27 (105964)
05-06-2004 1:48 PM


If these non-living things can self-reproduce at cost of the environment and have some form of heredity and variability, it will evolve.

Take culture, more specifically, languages, my favourite example. They're not biologically alive, although we use terms like "dead languages". Languages reproduces itself by means of transmission. It does have "mutations", and geographical isolation, causing the decrease of "memetic flux" will produce and emphasize differences till diverge at the point that will occur a allopatric "speciation". Language also changes through time without necessarily radiating into new ones, and taking distant points of this same lineage is much like a "chronospecies".

Yesterday I had posted (in the topic "panspermia") about a book called "Without Miracles: Universal Selection Theory and the Second Darwinian Revolution", by Gary Cziko, that I haven't read it yet, but I guess that deals with natural selection acting in a even more generalized way, in means of universal macroevents, or maybe not so macro, I don't know.
I'm not sure if it is really what I'm think that is, but similarly to living things or things capable of self-reproduction, a single event that is just "happening", will keep occurring till it "dies", by its micro-components being selected against, be by competition with another micro-event or simply by enviromental exaustion.... I guess...
But I don't know if it really is helpful to the explanation of something else... at least I think I've never seen...

And it's possible that if that really fits well with a bunch of things, those things will be adeddet to the list of what anti-evolutionists deny =o/

A link to what seems to be the entire book previously referred online:
http://faculty.ed.uiuc.edu/g-cziko/wm/

(doesn't seems to be piracy, but I'll remove if there's some trouble with that)

This message has been edited by extremophile, 05-06-2004 12:50 PM

This message has been edited by extremophile, 05-06-2004 12:52 PM


  
digitall
Inactive Member


Message 13 of 27 (105979)
05-06-2004 3:37 PM


Non bio evolution
I know of an experiment in which electronic circuits are being evolved.
Better than human circuits have been evolved.
That might be a good example.
http://www.informatics.sussex.ac.uk/users/mmg20/dhe/

This message has been edited by digitall, 05-06-2004 03:07 PM


  
Lammy
Member
Posts: 3578
From: Chicago
Joined: 03-29-2004


Message 14 of 27 (105996)
05-06-2004 4:20 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Parasomnium
05-06-2004 6:58 AM


Re: 2B v ~2B a simulation
Parasomnium writes:

Lam, could you please respond to Re: TOE for life only? (Message 22 of Thread What are common creationist strawmen?)?

Ok.

Lam, you disappoint me. Your analogy is flawed, surely you must realise you are mixing levels here.

Although I did not take offense in this statement, I find it very inappropriate that you actually stated this thought. I don't care if you are a professor at the university of imperial germania or a beggar in Nigeria, it is inappropriate for you to treat someone else as though he is beneath you. By stating that you are disappointed, it implied that you were setting up a situation (or a test) and expected me (which this statement also implied to be one of your students or apprentice) to answer in a certain way that you can grade me.

I would have let this go, but your other posts sounded just as arrogant and I can almost see the impression that you are belittling other people. I strongly advice you to drop this attitude if you want people to treat you seriously later on.

Those objects in your programme didn’t have real mass, but they had something more appropriate for a simulation of gravity, namely a simulated mass.

I can also say that those beings in your program didn't really express those characteristics, that they were doing what they were programed to do. Mainly, I could say that your artificial lifeforms have simulated characteristics, that they're not really carrying out evolution after all.

That’s why the programme could tell you how those objects would interact if they were real world objects with real mass. Just as real gravity doesn’t have an effect on the simulated objects in your programme, the simulation of gravity doesn’t have an effect on the real objects on your desk. Like I said, you are mixing levels.

I could also say that the information you put in to your computer would interact if they were real world objects with real live characteristics. We know that certain natural disasters in nature cause certain natural selection to occur. However, in short of destroying your computer, I fail to see how a natural disaster could affect your simulated lifeforms.

By the way, the phrase "you are mixing levels" is quite annoying.

Well, there is an important difference between gravity and evolution. On the one hand, gravity cannot be implemented on a computer, because you cannot put real mass into a programme. The best you can do is a simulation. Evolution, on the other hand, basically deals with information, which makes it perfectly possible to implement it on a computer, because you can put real information into a programme.

The 2 theories are only different in your mind in that aspect. Evolution doesn't deal with information. We rely on information to determine evolution, but evolution involves real life interactions between real live beings. Based on your loose interpretation, I could also claim that evolution can be applied to our social structure, that the poor should all die. I could also claim that evolution works for the "evolution" of sports. In America, sports certain sports have certain seasons. This is why soccer is having a tough time competing for popularity in the states.

Oh fudge, I'm rambling.

I start with a set of itineraries of poor quality, in that each and every one of them will send the travelling salesman all over the place, making him travel longer than necessary. They are of poor quality because they are randomly generated. Then I let my programme do it’s thing on those itineraries and I end up with a population of them in which each is much more efficient than any one in the original set. Real poor quality information has evolved into real high quality information. So my programme is not merely a simulation of an evolution, it is actually carrying one out.

It still sounds to me like a simulation demonstrating the effects of evolution.

I’m sorry, but I think you haven’t even come close to showing this.

You are probably right.

Yes. Memes.

This is what I found on the word meme on www.dictionary.com:

-A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.

If this is not the meaning of the word that you meant, please tell me.

This is a different use of the word evolution in a different sense than what we mean by biological evolution. However, with this reasoning, I can say that the theory of gravity can also be applied to people. We know that 2 objects that have mass are attracted. We also know that 2 people are "attracted" to each other. Therefore, the theory of gravity just applied to the 2 people.

Either that, or brushing your teeth is dangerous for the brain.

Well, I'd like to get my morning breath out of the way before I go out to meet brave new people in the brave new world.

Here is where you get your morning breath from.


The Laminator


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Parasomnium, posted 05-06-2004 6:58 AM Parasomnium has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 18 by Parasomnium, posted 05-06-2004 6:21 PM Lammy has responded

    
Brad McFall
Member (Idle past 2983 days)
Posts: 3428
From: Ithaca,NY, USA
Joined: 12-20-2001


Message 15 of 27 (105998)
05-06-2004 4:24 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Lammy
05-05-2004 11:58 PM


I hope this helps.
I posted some things (3posts I think) on WolframSciences' discussion cite more in line with your claimed view but the posts that followed tried to claim otherwise so I gave that up. I consider it an open issue but much more likely closed should equilbrium techniques spider into the things that are likely only being kept seperated for economic(competative advantage) and hubric reasons.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Lammy, posted 05-05-2004 11:58 PM Lammy has not yet responded

    
Parasomnium
Member (Idle past 646 days)
Posts: 2191
Joined: 07-15-2003


Message 16 of 27 (106006)
05-06-2004 4:54 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Wounded King
05-06-2004 1:15 PM


Re: 2B v ~2B a simulation
Presumably however that relies on your evolutionary algorithm being exactly identical to the rules, whatever they are, governing evolution in the real world. Otherwise surely all you have is an algorithm which approximates how we think evolution works in the real world.

It seems that your definition of evolution is based firmly on the one example that we observe in earth's living nature, and it seems you think that any form of change in a population of things must work exactly like that, in order to be entitled to the name of 'evolution'.

When I made my programme, I did not intend to make an exact simile of nature's evolution. How could I, it would have been a foolish endeavor to even try. Instead, I only borrowed two principles: those of random mutation and natural selection. The rest of the machinery was all my own invention. Yet I observed a striking similarity between what happened to my population of solutions to the Travelling Salesman problem on the one hand, and what is continuously happening to populations of living creatures in the natural world, on the other hand.

It is of no consequence that there are differences between the two processes of change. What is important is that two simple principles have a similar effect, regardless of the way in which those principles are implemented.

One could develop evolutionary algorithms with weightings which would run along distinctly different lines to what we observe in real life.

Are the products of these algorithms truly evolved or merely iteratively processed? Is there, indeed, a difference?

Evolution is an iterative process.

Perhaps if you told me how you personally define both living things and evolution it would help. Indeed the difference between simulated evolution and evolution and simulated living organisms and actual living organisms is surely the same one you were dismissing as merely semantic previously.

Let me put it this way: evolution and simulated evolution both produce real changes, whereas a simulated living thing produces simulated shit and an actual living thing produces the smelly kind. They are most assuredly not the same.

I will think about a formal definition of life and of evolution, although I'm sure I would be reinventing the proverbial wheel.

Perhaps what the code is actually simulating is a genome, could you have a real organism with a simulated genome?

If you could build nanomachines (you know, solid old-fashioned Borg technology) that exactly mimick the behaviour of the cellular machinery that deals with all things DNA, and you would inject them into a cel, then, yes, why not?

{edited to correct a typo}

This message has been edited by Parasomnium, 05-06-2004 05:32 PM


"It's amazing what you can learn from DNA." - Desdamona.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by Wounded King, posted 05-06-2004 1:15 PM Wounded King has not yet responded

  
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