Directed evolution

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Thu Apr 27 2000 - 23:47:50 MDT

On Saturday, April 15, 2000 5:24 PM Anders Sandberg wrote:
> Normal evolution is not deliberately directed, it progresses in the
> usual blind variation-replication-selection manner with no
> memory.

I disagree. There seems to be evidence of orthogenetic (not a typo; I do
NOT mean ontogenetic here) processes in evolution. E.g., back and forth
mutation rates are usually not equal. (Drisophilia antennae mutate into
legs usually. Very rarely do we see the reverse.) There are other

It might be better to say that evolution appears to be "blind" in terms of
fitting the environment. The internal (to the genomic system or organism or
species) mechanisms producing diversity do not appear to "know" about the

> Intelligent entities are capable of creating systems based on
> earlier experience and make deliberate jumps in form space that would
> be unlikely with undirected evolution.

The use of "undirected" here can be misleading. I would say a lot of
evolutionary processes are directed, but not in the sense of there being a
conscious goal. Instead, what I mean is that the initial conditions of
biological evolution (for each of us, our initial condition is our genetics
and cytoplasm at birth; for a population of organisms, the initial
conditions are its genome, which is typically nonrandom) constrain in which
directions variation will take place. This sets the ground on which
environmental fitness (boundary conditions) can act.

If such were not the case, I believe, evolution would be cyclical instead of
what we see which is complexity-increasing. (I almost typed "progressive"
there.:) Dollo's Law, you know?

> While I would say deliberate
> modifications and creation is part of the general phenomenon of
> evolution it is very unlike natural evolution.

I would question the use of "natural" here, but that would be a semantic
quibble. I get what Anders means. I think in a lot of areas, we could
benefit from using things like evolutionary computation because minds are
constrained too.


Daniel Ust

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