Eliezer, maybe you are missing the point.
Evolution is really a reductive scientific theory. It reduces life to
smaller and smaller units. For example a hierarchy of the units of life
might go something like this-
Organs that constitute the organism
Cells that make up the organs
Organelles within cells
Dawkins and others have proposed that genes are the fundamental units of
life and also
that they are the units that natural selection operates on to generate
complexity. We are all familiar with "The Blind Watchmaker".
Now, if we take the reductionist argument further we must ask what genes
are composed of. Well, DNA, and DNA consists of purines, pyrimidines,
sugar, phosphate etc. All of these molecules are composed of atoms.
At the atomic level, from which we must assume life arose in the first
place, what are (were) the forces operating to generate complexity and
what is (was)
the form of selection operating on the atoms? How can it be "survival of
the fittest" when we consider that, compared to living beings, atoms are
virtually immortal? A block of metal is not alive but under most
circumstances it can far outlive any creature.
The program that you describe sounds interesting, and I'm sure that it is
possible to learn a lot about evolution from simulations, but I wonder if
we can learn the full story. A simulation contains a program, and I think
we are still a considerable way from fully understanding the program(s) of
life. I'm not suggesting I have the answers, I just
wonder if we have asked all the questions. As extropians we should beware
of being dogmatic.
" The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of
thinking we were at when we created them."