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Author Topic:   Evolution as an Algorithm
fallacycop
Member (Idle past 3860 days)
Posts: 692
From: Fortaleza-CE Brazil
Joined: 02-18-2006


Message 61 of 74 (345674)
09-01-2006 9:02 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Hyroglyphx
08-30-2006 3:39 PM


Macroevolution
there are multiple threads open on the differences between a macroevolutionary process and a microadaptive process.

And as far as I can see none of them acctually address that difference. Can you please explain to me what the hack is Macroevolution for christ sake, and how in the world does that link to this current thread? I ask because you've been throughing this macro/micro stuff around in almost every single thread you've been posting in as if it were a well stablished scientific difference (I don't think it is) but apparently refuses to define your terms when asked to do so. I think it is a bunch of BS and I chalenge you to prove me wrong


This message is a reply to:
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JavaMan
Member (Idle past 659 days)
Posts: 475
From: York, England
Joined: 08-05-2005


Message 62 of 74 (345681)
09-01-2006 9:24 AM
Reply to: Message 60 by Percy
09-01-2006 7:30 AM


An algorithm, or not an algorithm?
This confirms my original suspicion that this is just a case of using different definitions. When trying to nail things down precisely it helps to introduce a bit of formalism, and I think that Nwr would agree with me that it is important to separately consider an algorithm from its inputs.

I think rushing to a formal definition sometimes serves to confuse an issue rather than clarify it, especially when you don't take into account the context of a discussion.

This discussion started with a question about whether evolution can be modelled as a computer algorithm. Most of the contributors here are using the term 'computer algorithm' in a loose sense to mean a sequence of instructions. Parasomnium has described a computer program he's written that uses an evolutionary algorithm (algorithm in the looser sense), and I have mentioned the term genetic algorithm (again, algorithm in the looser sense).

When you realise that this is how people are using the term, then nwr's argument against the computer algorithm model makes no sense at all. He's insisting on the formal definition of the term, and pointing out that evolution isn't the same kind of thing as an algorithm in this formal sense. And yet no one is arguing that evolution is like an algorithm in this formal sense (because most of us weren't aware that the term had a formal definition that was so restrictive).

The important point to make, I think, is that people aren't using the term algorithm to argue that evolution is a deterministic process. Until they do I don't think there's any advantage to be gained by insisting on the formal definition.


'I can't even fit all my wife's clothes into a suitcase for travelling. So you want me to believe we're going to put all of the planets and stars and everything into a sandwich bag?' - q3psycho on the Big Bang

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nwr
Member
Posts: 5587
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 63 of 74 (345682)
09-01-2006 9:26 AM
Reply to: Message 58 by JavaMan
09-01-2006 4:25 AM


Re: Not an algorithm
From Message 19

An algorithm is deterministic, so it leads directly to the kind of determinism that JAD assumes in his hypothesis. Interaction is not obviously deterministic, although it could admittedly be (as some argue) non-obviously deterministic. My point is that if you assume evolution is an algorithm, then you are pretty much assuming some sort of determinism.

The effect of an interaction is deterministic in the sense that you insist on when you're teaching your students about non-deterministic algorithms, i.e. the interaction 'produces results that are a deterministic function of [its] inputs'.


You are missing a bit of context there. The "it" in the first sentence you quote from me refers to the claim that evolution is an algorithm. Note that I have no problem with the view that evolution uses algorithmic processes. My objection is to the claim that evolution itself is an algorithm.

This discussion is getting more complicated than it needs to be because you're confusing the philosophical notion of determinism (every event having a physical cause), with the common use of the terms 'deterministic' and 'non-deterministic' to mean 'predictable' and 'non-predictable'.

I can't say that I have ever seen "deterministic" used to mean predictable. Or, if I have, that mistaken notion has quickly been corrected. There are computer programs whose output we cannot predict (except by actually running the program). That does not make the program non-deterministic. "Predictable" has partly to do with our state of knowledge, while "deterministic" does not.

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Admin
Director
Posts: 12653
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002
Member Rating: 2.9


Message 64 of 74 (345683)
09-01-2006 9:27 AM
Reply to: Message 61 by fallacycop
09-01-2006 9:02 AM


Request to Focus on This Thread's Topic
fallacycop writes:

I ask because you've been throughing this macro/micro stuff around in almost every single thread you've been posting in...

I apologize if this is actually the case and I've missed it.

To everyone,

If you raise issues that at least on the surface do not appear to bear on the topic of this thread then please make clear the relationship. Issues not related to evolution as an algorithm should be raised in other threads where they are appropriate.


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

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nwr
Member
Posts: 5587
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 65 of 74 (345684)
09-01-2006 9:29 AM
Reply to: Message 60 by Percy
09-01-2006 7:30 AM


Re: Not an algorithm
..., and I think that Nwr would agree with me that it is important to separately consider an algorithm from its inputs.

Quite right. I have no disagreement with your use of the terminology.

You are correct, that the disagreement between me an JavaMan is mostly semantic. I think my disagreement with Dennett in DDI is more than semantic. It was certainly my impression that Dennett was making too strong a claim.


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Woodsy
Member (Idle past 1714 days)
Posts: 301
From: Burlington, Canada
Joined: 08-30-2006


Message 66 of 74 (345689)
09-01-2006 9:49 AM
Reply to: Message 62 by JavaMan
09-01-2006 9:24 AM


Re: An algorithm, or not an algorithm?
I'd just like to correct an impression I see here. The original post was not meant to ask if evolution could be modelled on a computer. My concept of an algorithm was that of a well-defined set of operations that could be relied on to process its inputs to yield its outputs in the same way every time. My interest is in an idea that, if evolution works in that way, and biological systems meet the requirements for a proper input to the algorithm, we can confidently expect evolution to occur and so be able to focus our attention on the details.
It is convenient, and fun, that we can indeed model evolution using computers, but that is not what I was trying to get at.

Best regards


After all, comfort can be just about anything, provided you need it enough at the time. Grey Owl

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JavaMan
Member (Idle past 659 days)
Posts: 475
From: York, England
Joined: 08-05-2005


Message 67 of 74 (345695)
09-01-2006 10:21 AM
Reply to: Message 66 by Woodsy
09-01-2006 9:49 AM


Re: An algorithm, or not an algorithm?
I'd just like to correct an impression I see here. The original post was not meant to ask if evolution could be modelled on a computer. My concept of an algorithm was that of a well-defined set of operations that could be relied on to process its inputs to yield its outputs in the same way every time.

Then I agree with nwr (:)). No.

My interest is in an idea that, if evolution works in that way, and biological systems meet the requirements for a proper input to the algorithm, we can confidently expect evolution to occur and so be able to focus our attention on the details.

I don't quite understand what you're getting at here. Evolution does occur. What science attempts to understand is how it works, in particular what the mechanisms are that generate novel forms. Describing evolution in terms of a computer algorithm is useful if it gives us some insight into these mechanisms. If it doesn't, then it's not a very useful model.


'I can't even fit all my wife's clothes into a suitcase for travelling. So you want me to believe we're going to put all of the planets and stars and everything into a sandwich bag?' - q3psycho on the Big Bang

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nwr
Member
Posts: 5587
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 68 of 74 (345715)
09-01-2006 12:26 PM
Reply to: Message 51 by Wounded King
08-31-2006 5:01 PM


Re: Not in the DNA
You might have been reading more into my post than I intended. I don't see anything I disagree with in your latest "refutation."

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Woodsy
Member (Idle past 1714 days)
Posts: 301
From: Burlington, Canada
Joined: 08-30-2006


Message 69 of 74 (345743)
09-01-2006 1:37 PM
Reply to: Message 68 by nwr
09-01-2006 12:26 PM


Re: Not in the DNA
I agree, we agree quite well. I was not trying to refute you at all.

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Wounded King
Member (Idle past 2435 days)
Posts: 4149
From: Edinburgh, Scotland
Joined: 04-09-2003


Message 70 of 74 (345750)
09-01-2006 1:56 PM
Reply to: Message 69 by Woodsy
09-01-2006 1:37 PM


Re: Not in the DNA
I assumed NWR was replying to me, what with him replying to me and all.

TTFN,

wK


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Woodsy
Member (Idle past 1714 days)
Posts: 301
From: Burlington, Canada
Joined: 08-30-2006


Message 71 of 74 (345769)
09-01-2006 3:13 PM
Reply to: Message 70 by Wounded King
09-01-2006 1:56 PM


Re: Not in the DNA
Oh, yes, quite right. Sorry.

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Hyroglyphx
Member
Posts: 5878
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006
Member Rating: 2.3


Message 72 of 74 (346008)
09-02-2006 11:02 AM
Reply to: Message 61 by fallacycop
09-01-2006 9:02 AM


Re: Macroevolution
And as far as I can see none of them acctually address that difference. Can you please explain to me what the hack is Macroevolution

Macroevolution is the major evolutionary transition from one type of organism to another occurring at the level of the species and higher taxa. To be sure, I would expect a microevolutionary process, i.e., a form of evolution resulting from a succession of relatively small genetic variations that often cause the formation of new subspecies, to precipitate the possibility. But unfortunately, all we see is subspecies, not the advent new species, genera, etc, either in the fossil record, walking amongst us today, or in our imaginations. We just see organisms well-defined, not any in a state of transition, or as Darwin called it, "in a state of confusion."


“"All science, even the divine science, is a sublime detective story. Only it is not set to detect why a man is dead; but the darker secret of why he is alive." —G. K. Chesterton

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Admin
Director
Posts: 12653
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002
Member Rating: 2.9


Message 73 of 74 (346013)
09-02-2006 11:14 AM
Reply to: Message 72 by Hyroglyphx
09-02-2006 11:02 AM


Re: Macroevolution
Please see Message 64, where I posted a reply to the same message. Unless you can tie micro/macro-evolutionary differences in to the topic of this thread, this is best discussed in a more appropriate thread.


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

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Modulous
Member (Idle past 444 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 74 of 74 (346166)
09-03-2006 2:31 AM
Reply to: Message 52 by Hyroglyphx
08-31-2006 7:41 PM


Re: More falsifications...
I don't know how much its a Holy Grail as opposed to just being a good argument in support of an ID and a conundrum for pro-evo's to overcome

Unfortunately irreducible complexity ignores redundant complexity which renders it less than a conundrum.

I assume you are referring to Behe's Blood Clotting Cascade and Kenneth Miller's refutation on that as not having to necessarily have to do with intelligence. I have to disagree with that and I feel that the 'evidence' compiled had more to do with circular reasoning than it did anything else.

No, I'm referring to redundant complexity.

As for your last bit, I'm not sure what you mean. Are you asking for an example of something that could not have come about by random, successive copying errors?

I'm not asking for one here since it would be massively off topic. However, if you could demonstrate something that could not have come about using the mechanisms described by the theory of evolution then the theory is either in major trouble or has yet to discover an important mechanism.

I almost started a thread on it about 8 or 9 months ago, so if you want to discuss redundant complexity in more depth, I might be convinced to propose a new topic.


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