Re: "The Blind Watchmaker"

From: S.Harnad (
Date: Thu Nov 06 1997 - 21:32:17 GMT

> From: "Liz Lee" <>
> A [computer] programmer
> [of an artificial life evolutionary programme] then
> selects which of the offspring is most like the desired model, and
> this is used for further reproduction, so this is not exactly natural
> selection, more like selective breeding, but the programmer is doing
> what the environment does in true evolution.

Exactly. (In fact, human artificial selection in animal breeding is
very much like natural selection, and Darwin noted this.)

> If at some stage in the future it becomes necessary for us to have
> infra red or ultra violet vision or to see radio waves (for
> example!!), then we may go on to develop in this way, because those
> members of the species which show the merest hint of these abilities
> will survive over those who do not, and the traits will be passed on.

Exactly. For example, if there is some variability in our genome
already, in terms of just how wide a portion of the light spectrum
(from invisible infrared to invisible ultraviolet) we each can see,
then if a slightly wider spectrum helps us one survive or reproduce in
any way, then those of us who have some already will be more successful
(by definition), will mate with one another (as there will be more of
us around, and less of the narrow-spectrum seers), and we will produce
offspring that have still wider spectra (e.g., if two natural
wide-spectrum seers each carry it as a rare recessive gene, then if two
of them mated, the offspring might have MUCH wider spectral vision,

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