In a still-interesting 2017 paper, Ben Medlock talks about the way life forms self-organize: (which computers don’t, really). He writes:
”The traditional view of evolution suggests that our cellular complexity evolved from early eukaryotes via random genetic mutation and selection. But in 2005 the biologist James Shapiro at the University of Chicago outlined a radical new narrative. He argued that eukaryotic cells work ‘intelligently’ to adapt a host organism to its environment by manipulating their own DNA in response to environmental stimuli. Recent microbiological findings lend weight to this idea. For example, mammals’ immune systems have the tendency to duplicate sequences of DNA in order to generate effective antibodies to attack disease, and we now know that at least 43 per cent of the human genome is made up of DNA that can be moved from one location to another, through a process of natural ‘genetic engineering’.
Now, it’s a bit of a leap to go from smart, self-organising cells to the brainy sort of intelligence that concerns us here. But the point is that long before we were conscious, thinking beings, our cells were reading data from the environment and working together to mould us into robust, self-sustaining agents.” – Ben Medlock, “The body is the missing link for truly intelligent machines” at Aeon (March 14, 2017)News, “Can vain hopes for AI spring from a wrong understanding of evolution?” at Mind Matters News
Nice to see that James Shapiro has been making a difference. He is the author of Evolution: A view from the 21st century. He has long been a student of seeing past Darwin to spot alternative pathways in evolution.
Much else of interest at the link about what computers can and can’t do.
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Evolution and artificial intelligence face the same basic problem Think of the word ladder game, where we transform one word into another by changing only one letter at a time. Without knowledge about the goal and how to get there, it rapidly becomes first difficult and then completely impossible to reach the goal.
Can AI really evolve into superintelligence all by itself? We can’t just turn a big computer over to evolution and go away and hope for great things. Perpetual Innovation Machines tend to wind down because there is no universally good search. Computers are powerful because they have limitations.