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13. Finally, Pascal had no knowledge or concept of optimization theory, including what we now call the genetic algorithm. Unlike ourselves, he had never seen a computer algorithm optimize a genetic code for survival, or reproduction, or anything else. If he had seen such a thing, commonplace to our eyes today, he would certainly not have agreed with your idea that evolution is somehow impossible without intelligence.

Great point Loren, after my response to Ed and I had thought of following up with something about this since I have just started delving into and programming this kind of stuff myself. I was turned on to it by this article from a couple years ago in Scientific American (the link is only a reference, you have to pay to get it):

http://www.sciamdigital.com/browse.cfm?sequencenameCHAR=item2&methodnameCHAR=resource_getitembrowse&interfacenameCHAR=browse.cfm&ISSUEID_CHAR=AB9F2CB9-ADA7-E562-F463B0CFD31518DE&ARTICLEID_CHAR=AF1DDCD5-DEE5-12E5-021A9653F3B480CB&sc=I100322

The short summary of this particular article is that people are harnessing the principles of evolution to design new electronic circuits. You set the environmental parameters (ie: define what characteristics will be favored) and the algorithm goes to work find a design that most closely meets your needs.

The thing that got me jazzed on a philosophical level is that some of the final designs that emerged worked in ways that couldn't be completely explained by the electrical engineers. They had weird "apendages" whose function was not completely clear...the detritus of a random process...yet without those parts the whole wouldn't function.

Looking at living beings, don't we see this all the time?
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