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hosford42 comments on An Alien God - Less Wrong

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

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Comment author: hosford42 10 August 2015 11:01:25PM *  1 point [-]

If evolutionary biology could explain a toaster oven, not just a tree, it would be worthless.

But it can, if you consider a toaster to be an embodied meme. Of course, the evolution that applies to toasters is more Lamarckian than Darwinian, but it's still evolution. Toaster designs that have higher utility to human beings lead to higher rates of reproduction, indirectly by human beings. The basic elements of evolution, namely mutation and reproduction, are all there.

What's interesting is that while natural evolution of biological organisms easily gets stuck in local optima, the backwards retina being an example, artificial evolution of technology often does not, due to the human mind being in the reproductive loop. This is, in part, because we can perform local hill-climbing in the design space after a large potential improvement is introduced, much as described in this article on the use of hill climbing in genetic algorithms. For example, we can imagine making the change to the retina to fix its orientation, and then, holding that change in place, search for improvements in the surrounding design space to make it workable, thereby skipping over poorly designed eyes and going straight to a new and better area in the fitness landscape.

Comment author: hosford42 11 August 2015 10:18:14PM 2 points [-]

My first comment ever on this site promptly gets downvoted without explanation. If you disagree with something I said, at least speak up and say why.

Comment author: alicey 12 August 2015 12:19:18AM 1 point [-]

you're not really wrong but you're missing the point

Comment author: hosford42 12 August 2015 05:12:53PM *  1 point [-]

I didn't miss the point; I just had one of my own to add. I gave the post a thumbs-up before I made my comment, because I agree with the overwhelming majority of it and have dealt with people who have some of the confusions described therein. Anyway, thanks for explaining.

Comment author: Wes_W 12 August 2015 12:46:18AM 2 points [-]

I am the downvoter, although another one seems to have found you since. I found your comment to be a mixture of "true, but irrelevant in the context of the quote", and a restatement of non-novel ideas. This is admittedly a harsh standard to apply to a first comment (particularly since you may not have yet even read the other stuff that duplicates your point about human designers being able to avoid local optima!), so I have retracted my downvote.

Welcome to the site, I hope I haven't turned you off.

Comment author: hosford42 12 August 2015 05:08:58PM 1 point [-]

I guess relevance is a matter of perspective. I was not aware that my ideas were not novel; they were at least my own and not something I parroted from elsewhere. Thanks for taking the time to explain, and no, I feel much better now.