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Mat comments on An Alien God - Less Wrong

80 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 02 November 2007 06:57AM

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Comment author: Mat 16 February 2013 12:34:59PM *  3 points [-]

When I design a toaster oven, I don't design one part that tries to get electricity to the coils and a second part that tries to prevent electricity from getting to the coils. It would be a waste of effort. Who designed the ecosystem, with its predators and prey, viruses and bacteria? Even the cactus plant, which you might think well-designed to provide water fruit to desert animals, is covered with inconvenient spines.

I understand your point and your examples, but it is wrong to infer that conflicting subsystems are evidence of poor design or no design at all. For instance, in CMOS design of logical ports, we use PMOS(es) to pull-up and NMOS(es) to pull-down the output voltage(s). More generally, when we want to design something able to change its state in a certain state-space, we often put sub-systems which go one against the other and let the contour conditions decide where the balance will be (in the CMOS example, the contour conditions are the input(s) of the logical gate). We as human designers do this a lot, actually.

I agree with all you other points, though.