Darwin Machines

Cosma Shalizi defines as The idea that Darwianian principles are at work in lots of places; most especially that the brain is a (in William Calvin's phrase) "Darwin Machine," where ideas are generated and selected by Natural Selection and descent-with-variation... What we know to be Darwin Machines are the Immune System-s of vertebrates, and some computer programs (Evolutionary Computation) made by certain vertebrates. (Whether all immune systems are Darwin Machines, I don't know.) Many of us think that science, or routines of economic behavior (Economics), or human cultures (Memetic) generally, the thoughts of individual human beings, and neural wiring in individual brains are also Darwinian, though these are all separate hypotheses. Richard Dawkins has advanced strong arguments that organisms anywhere in the universe must evolve Darwinianly, that Lamarckian mechanisms are simply inadequate for explaining the origins of adaptations, and this was what he meant by "universal Darwinism." (His arguments neglect the possibility of supernatural intervention; this is not a flaw.)

see Charles Darwin


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