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AVIDA — The Simulation That Just Keeps Dissimulating

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Robert Pennock is quoted as saying “Avida is not a simulation of intelligent design; it is an instance of it.” No, strike that. What he actually said was “Avida is not a simulation of intelligent design evolution; it is an instance of it.” That’s better. Dennis White, who has contributed much to the entertainment value of this blog (e.g., the evolved human who outruns a cheetah video, the ultimate earth mover pps, and an account of his son being informed he must not only understand but actually believe evolution in order to have a career in biology) has a nice post on Avida at ARN: go here.

I had a couple of things to say about Avida too. Here
For many other biologists, however, digital evolution seems to have very little relevance. One eminent British evolutionary biologist dismissed the research in just eight words, according to the field's godfather, Tom Ray. ‘His comment: “It's just not biology. Period. End of discussion”. That's the whole story right there’, recalls Ray. For Lenski, experiments with Avida provide ‘both an “instance” and a “model” of evolution’. He says that ‘populations of the digital organisms really do evolve and adapt, albeit in an unfamiliar physical realm. ‘Our goal is not to mimic natural systems in detail, but rather to expand Avida to give digital organisms access to more of the basic processes of life’, says Lenski. ‘Our goal is not so much to endow the ancestral organisms with additional capabilities, but rather we want to see how digital organisms will evolve if they are placed in an altered world where such things as sex and communication are physically possible. I see many years of interesting research along these lines’.
seem to either neglect or to discount the significant fact that everything about these “digital organisms” - their environment (a computer), their structure (software code) and their “nourishment” (the input of numbers as operands) - is the work of intelligent beings, not “nature” per se.
Amazing, innit? I happen to know the hardware that allows the simulation to function isn't replicating itself without a lot of Chinese labor. LOL! They might as well be drawing little critters on paper, xeroxing it, and calling any flaws in the xeroxed copy "evolution". What a joke. DaveScot

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