Pos-Darwinista draws attention to this paywalled item: at Cell by evolution boffins Richard A. Watson and Eörs Szathmáry:
How Can Evolution Learn?
The theory of evolution links random variation and selection to incremental adaptation. In a different intellectual domain, learning theory links incremental adaptation (e.g., from positive and/or negative reinforcement) to intelligent behaviour. Specifically, learning theory explains how incremental adaptation can acquire knowledge from past experience and use it to direct future behaviours toward favourable outcomes. Until recently such cognitive learning seemed irrelevant to the ‘uninformed’ process of evolution. In our opinion, however, new results formally linking evolutionary processes to the principles of learning might provide solutions to several evolutionary puzzles – the evolution of evolvability, the evolution of ecological organisation, and evolutionary transitions in individuality. If so, the ability for evolution to learn might explain how it produces such apparently intelligent designs.
Well, that would sure explain “apparently intelligent designs.” If evolution can “learn,” it is a consciousness of some kind.
On the other hand, the article is likely to turn out to be just another installment of Darwin’s shell game (smuggle intelligence and information in, while claiming to adhere to pure randomness).
The rest of us had somehow thought that a lot of work would go into establishing any such fact as that evolution could “learn.” When we choose to play by the rules, we get tied up with researching more basic stuff like the nature of information.
But Darwin’s followers can just announce, as Pos-Darwinista says, “evolution is more intelligent than previously thought.”
He’s a wit, that one.
See also: Naturalists see evolution as an agent, admit problem, shrug. Linguistic Stalinism? We are introduced to a box explaining Evolution old-speak vs. Evolution new-speak.
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