Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

What characteristics are common to entities that are the outcome of a Darwinian process?

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I’m think specifically of the two types that we know develop by evolution (by which I mean the process algorithm defined by Darwin: reproduction with occasional variation and finite resources, which results in some thriving and others withering): lifeforms (single-celled lifeforms, plants, fungi, animals) and memes (product of human culture, such as language, music, dance, tools, social standing, buildings, norms of behavior, ideologies, and so on). Both are the products of evolution. What common characteristics show that?

Manifold divergence of forms, which in effect find every niche and cranny to exploit (since lack of competition helps with prospering). Also, complexity increasing over time, as things are added and turn out to be advantageous (and thus selected for). Another, once a reasonable level of complexity is reached, is individual uniqueness: no two alike, since the number potential variations is effectively unlimited: any sample we examine closely will show individual differences, and at a sufficient level of complexity the uniqueness is obvious—we use DNA matching to identify uniquely the person who left the DNA trace. However, I would imagine that individual uniqueness is perhaps not so significant in (say) a bacterium, though even there one can find differences in (say) the molecular pattern of the cell wall: slightly differing arrangements.

Also, both require energy from outside themselves (since otherwise entropy would prevent increasing complexity): in the case of lifeforms the comes from chemical reactions (around the deep-ocean vents that are shaping up to be the progenitor of life) or from the sun; in the case of memes, the resource is human attention, knowledge, and practice: those are required for memes—although perhaps if humans provide the energy (again, ultimately from the sun, since humans use that energy to power themselves (via food)), one can imagine a computer running rapid series of algorithmic evolution (through genetic programming) that would produce memes without direct human involvement: the Singularity, in effect.

And this kind of genetic algorithmic development can produce unexpected outcomes (PDF), just as do lifeforms in their evolutiona (e.g., the parasite that eats the tongue of a clownfish and then grips on to act in place of the tongue, enabling the clownfish to continue living, thus providing a steady food supply for the parasite).

Otherwise, it’s hard to think of common characteristics. Can you think of any?

Written by LeisureGuy

14 May 2017 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Memes

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