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Reply #34: The modern synthesis is exceptionally good at [View All]

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FarrenH Donating Member (485 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-13-08 04:50 PM
Response to Reply #32
34. The modern synthesis is exceptionally good at
Edited on Sun Jul-13-08 05:11 PM by FarrenH
explaining how evolutionary "leaps" can be achieved. In fact, evolutionary algorithms are extremely good at adapting form to circumstance. As a programmer, I'm quite convinced of this, as I'm sure is anyone else who's watched such algorithms at work. I find claims to the contrary quite strange. Watch some of these videos:

Evolving creatures in block world

Evolving clocks

In fact, very simple evolutionary algorithms can be applied to just about anything and yield useful and significant adaptations with only the simple requirement of some random change (not necessarily truly random but noisy enough to cover a lot of possibilities) being applied to each generation of a self-replicating assembly in the context of some challenge, from chess-playing scripts to block creatures. What's critical here is that these algorithms yield an explosion of adaptations for any self-replicating units with sufficient degrees of freedom in exactly the manner the Modern Synthesis claims life did

Significant adaptation falls so naturally out of the most basic modify-and-select model in a challenging environment that its simply bizarre to challenge the elegance of the primary pillar of modern evolutionary biology. Their efficacy is such that I've heard of them being applied to large network design and even, via a professor from the University of Athens I once spoke to, to permutations of physical laws in bubble universes (if I understood him correctly).

Whether there is epigenetic inheritance or transfer of genetic material between individuals has no impact on this underlying fact (although inter-individual transfer may accelerate the process). The algorithmic pattern, quite apart from any biological considerations, produces an explosion of forms for even simple challenges. These are interesting additional considerations in the examination of biological evolution, but are not necessary mechanisms. Evolution would happen without them.

The fact that we've actually recorded selective pressure at work in bacteria in such short time periods (the study I'm thinking of was a decade I think) should clue people in to the enormous possibilities (the probability, in fact, of an explosion of forms) when billions of years and the whole of the earth's surface are involved. Its not a "problem" for the modern synthesis. It is the very reason it has such currency.
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