… if they [the Avida researchers] didn’t develop the exact right environment, nothing complex evolved. Now, the interesting part is that, if they say that the environment must be a specific type in order for the organism to evolve, that is another way of saying that the environment must be designed. In other words, far from proving that design is unnecessary, they merely shift the design to another part of the system.
This is consistent with Bill Dembski’s notion of displacement. Put simply, to develop complex functional systems, you can shift design around but you can’t actually get rid of it. The original Avida program simply shifted the design of the organism to that of the environment. As the paper itself said, if the environment was not properly designed, the organism didn’t evolve the traits needed for survival. (More detailed information here.) Another interesting aspect of Avida is that, despite the researchers’ claims that design has been avoided, every Avida organism contains designed code.Jonathan Bartlett, “Can computers simply evolve greater intelligence?” at Mind Matters News
Further reading: Can we evolve self-driving cars? The new method may be an advance but thinking of it as “evolution” at work risks misconceptions
Could one single machine invent everything? (Eric Holloway)