Ask A Genius 402 – Moore’s Law As Moore’s Laws (3)
October 4, 2018
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Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How might this trend in Moore’s Law relate to evolution?
Rick Rosner: I think evolution is imperfectly opportunistic. That all the organisms in the world are facing the conditions that they face; life is organisms facing conditions. According to traditional ideas of evolution, organisms that have abilities well-suited to their conditions are, on average, more successful at passing on their genes.
But there are a gazillion assumptions hidden in that idea and a bunch of probabilistic landscapes spread out for these organisms. Every organism has a set of things that it could possibly do given what it is.
An amoeba isn’t going to tap dance. But there is some variability in amoeba behavior. You have these landscapes of what the organism can do in terms of behavior when faced with various situations.
You also have various probabilistic landscapes in terms of what is doable genetically. Is there something in the amoeba’s genome that would let it change color to somehow absorb more heat? Would that be helpful if it possible?
Every organism faces a landscape of things that it could do both behaviorally and genetically. Groups of organisms have probabilistic landscapes as to whether a novel behavior is going to be embraced by the group.
You have probability working all the time through organisms. Where things that are genetically easy, there is a possible mutation to make this happen easily. For instance, there is a crazy mutation, as far as I know, in all mammals.
There is a gene that turns off muscular development. If that gene fails, if there is a glitch and the gene is missing, the individual organism will have double the muscular development of organisms in that species. You can google this.
There are dogs, bulls, people, and all sorts of mammals that have double the muscle. We know that just from looking at mammals that doubling muscle is an easy glitch. But it has not caught on. It has not spread through the population for probabilistic and other reasons.
It might be too rare for there to be enough organisms with this glitch to pass it on efficiently. It might not be advantageous enough and may come with extra costs. Organisms with double muscle are less fertile. Maybe, they die earlier. Maybe, they cost too much. They have to work harder to find all the nutrition to support all this muscle.
A genetic glitch that supports all this muscle has not become common for all sorts of probabilistic reasons. Associated with the idea of evolution as being probabilistic and opportunistic, more likely to take easy ways to do stuff or to do the hard stuff, for instance, there are no organisms that I know that can achieve escape velocity and escape Earth’s gravitational field.
There are no organisms besides humans who can do it technologically rather than evolutionarily. There are no organisms that can get to an escape velocity of 25,000 mph. Because the genetic mutations to do that are almost inconceivable.
Also, there are no immediate conceivable advantages to achieving it. You leave the atmosphere and then die. It is not efficient at focused technological things that humans have become good at.
As far as I know, there’s not much more genetic advantage to faster travel. For instance, a cheetah can travel at 60-70 mph. It is not worth the extra effort to double the speed to 140 mph. You already locked in the niche at 60-70 mph.
Evolution is imperfectly or weakly opportunistic, but widely opportunistic. It will take anything probabilistic that is accessible and advantageous. When the AI guy said duplicating the brain’s special architecture will take more than 100 years – I assumed that he would say, I would disagree with that.
Because I believe the brain has found a bunch of easy tactics to function. This guy finds that the neural nets are super simplistic. He finds that there is no way you can build a brain out of something as simple as that.
My thinking is the brain takes whatever simple things it can get to easily build. It takes advantage of, according to probability, most opportunities to develop efficiencies in information processing.
You will find most of the simplest ways to do neural nets or simple feedback information process, and maybe some more complicated or complex ways to do information processing.
They will be mixed haphazardly, except with a focus – as evolution is focused on the tasks that it needs to focus on to help the organism thrive in its environment. The brain takes a bunch of simple mechanisms, optimizes and combines them in an imperfect and haphazard manner.
You get a fairly well-functioning brain out of good but not perfect systems and components because everything is built out of this probabilistic and opportunistic evolutionary and sloppy mechanism.
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American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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