Joined: Dec. 2002
OK, this is just too much.
Dembski is posting a blog (""Unfinished Thoughts") and for the life of me I can't tell whether he's being disingenuous or stupid.
Koza spoke on "biologically inspired computation." He is one of the key people in the field, and every few years edits a book whose title begins with Genetic Programming . . . (he's now up to Genetic Programming IV: Routine Human-Competitive Machine Intelligence, which appeared last summer). In example after example, he described setting up a fitness/objective function and then seeking an optimal solution for it.
Interestingly, however, in all his examples the fitness/objective function always remained fixed. I therefore approached him after his talk and asked him whether he knew of any research in evolutionary computation that also changed/evolved the fitness/objective function in the search for an optimal solution to a computational problem. He replied no.
I found this quite interesting since the Darwinists claim that one of the things that gives added power to Darwinian evolution is the fact that environmental fitness is dynamic rather than static, changing, for instance, in response to evolving organisms (this is supposed to be a key factor in evolving irreducibly complex biochemical machines). Yet such coevolving fitness landscapes, which I don't deny occur in biology, are absent from evolutionary computation.
The Darwinist might want to interpret this difference thus: "Isn't it amazing that nature has given us a form of natural evolutionary computation which varies its fitness/objective functions and which therefore makes biological evolution that much more powerful than it is in silico? Just wait until computer scientists capture this feature of biological evolution. Just think of how much more powerful evolutionary computation will be then."
My own view is rather different. The fact that fitness/objective functions that vary over time are not employed in biologically inspired computing, especially after all these years of genetic algorithms hype, tells me that they are not the key to solving interesting engineering problems. And if they can't do it in the engineering context, there's no reason to think they can do it in biological contexts.
Is he daft? "The Darwinist" might think no such thing.
Try to transcend your parochial, sectarian worldview for a second, Bill, and think.
What makes evolutionary computing work? It solves a problem.
What happens when the fitness function is allowed to change during the course of the evolution? The problem changes.
So if I am an engineer who wants to solve a problem should I use a procedure in which the problem is allowed to vary? Uh, no.
The fact that engineers don't incorporate every phenomenon in evolutionary biology into their code says not a #### thing about the relevance of those feature to real world evolution.
Seriously, is this guy capable of stringing two thoughts together? Or is he just so infatuated with the sound of his own shrill voice that he doesn''t bother looking at the meaning of what he says?
Edited by Tom Ames on Feb. 10 2004,14:09