According to computer scientist Leslie Valiant.
From John Pavlus at Quanta:
Valiant’s self-stated goal is to find “mathematical definitions of learning and evolution which can address all ways in which information can get into systems.” If successful, the resulting “theory of everything” — a phrase Valiant himself uses, only half-jokingly — would literally fuse life science and computer science together. Furthermore, our intuitive definitions of “learning” and “intelligence” would expand to include not only non-organisms, but non-individuals as well. The “wisdom of crowds” would no longer be a mere figure of speech.
How can a theory of learning be applied to a phenomenon like biological evolution?
Biology is based on protein expression networks, and as evolution proceeds these networks become modified. The PAC learning model imposes some logical limitations on what could be happening to those networks to cause these modifications when they undergo Darwinian evolution. If we gather more observations from biology and analyze them within this PAC-style learning framework, we should be able to figure out how and why biological evolution succeeds, and this would make our understanding of evolution more concrete and predictive.
How far have we come?
We haven’t solved every problem we face regarding biological behavior because we have yet to identify the actual, specific ecorithms used in biology to produce these phenomena. So I think this framework sets up the right questions, but we just don’t know the right answers. I think these answers are reachable through collaboration between biologists and computer scientists. We know what we’re looking for. We are looking for a learning algorithm obeying Darwinian constraints that biology can and does support. It would explain what’s happened on this planet in the amount of time that has been available for evolution to occur. More.
“We are looking for a learning algorithm obeying Darwinian constraints that biology can and does support.”?
Sir, you have the wrong universe.
See also: What we know and don’t, know about the origin of life
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