Intertwined Evolutionary Tracks, affecting/amplifying each other
August 13, 2020 at 12:45 am #32851
[Longer post than I expected, as usual. You can skip my examples of what’s NOT “intertwined”. I’ll put those parts in their own, gray quote blocks so you can easily skip them. Can’t believe I hadn’t thought of intertwined evolutionary tracks before, and google doesn’t show any search results for it. There’s probably another phrase like it that’s in use?]
This concept of intertwined evolutionary tracks became more of an “aha” for me after just now hearing a mini-story on how much smarter and sociable sharks are than once thought. I’ve heard/read how sharks have been around such a long time and have perhaps perfected their genetic/physical design more effectively than most extant animals… which led me to think about how their brains must have also had the opportunity to evolve (still genetically) alongside their physical evolutionary track.
For decades, we’ve described the ongoing evolution of computer technology in terms of hardware evolution vs software evolution. This “vs” is not subtractive or competitive, but complementary, e.g. faster and more sophisticated hardware improved software performance, while more sophisticated software also improved hardware performance. A positive, evolutionary feedback loop (if I’m allowed to say that) that increases the overall pace of evolution. From here on, I will call such intertwined tracks “hardware*software”, presuming that each track doesn’t just add, but eventually amplifies the capability of the total package.
While the hardware and software tracks were (and still are) largely driven by separate designers in the industry (albeit with some joint coordination at higher planning levels), the hardware and software tracks are no longer just happening in parallel tracks, but in intertwined tracks because they actually affect each other’s evolutionary paths.
Next, to the meat of this topic, human evolution in the context of “intertwined tracks of evolution”. And its future. Well, after this brief, skippable diversion:
Just FYI, non-intertwined but parallel tracks in biological evolution can happen across species, with little simultaneity, and this is known as “convergent evolution” [see pic from https://peabody.yale.edu/exhibits/tree-of-life/convergent-evolution-recurrence-form ]:
Rewording this, “convergent evolution” is merely the scientific observation that similar structure and/or function can be found among more than one species, without any gene sharing between those species. In the case illustrated (above), those wings would have formed in each species whether or not any of the other species also formed them.
Oppositely, speaking of gene sharing that can occur across some lower species, I haven’t considered yet whether or how such lateral gene transfer should be called “intertwined”. Since a couple of the very earliest/lowest species seem to have accidentally combined to create a new branch in the family tree we call Eukaryotes, it is quite clear how two tracks of genetic evolution, when they come together, can forge a novel, incredibly successful evolutionary path. Explanation of Lateral Gene Transfer (and possible explanation for the beginning of Eukaryotes):
IMO, body + brain evolutionary tracks didn’t just complement each other, but increased the potential of future evolution by enhancing each other’s potential evolution. Ditto for other advanced-brained creatures, like octopuses, although vertebrates have a unique advantage over invertebrates wrt the ability to efficiently extend nerve pathways throughout the body.
My punch line here (which I’ve alluded to a few times in the past) is about realizing how the hardware*software (i.e. body*brain) paradigm seems so profound especially wrt primate/human evolution where we’ve evolved very quickly both physically (i.e. hardware) and mentally (i.e. software).
But in the case of humans, this body*brain pair of complementary tracks eventually became even more powerful than originally designed, turning into a trio of intertwined evolutionary tracks: body*brain*culture. Imagine the affect of all three of those evolutionary tracks on each other. Metaphorically, human evolution had progressed from evolution squared to evolution cubed, although the accelerating effects of culture now relatively drowns out the more natural origins of body*brain.
Indeed, in human terms, it’s now reasonable to differentiate in principle between natural and artificial or intelligent agent driven evolution. (Umm, even if a human like Trump is held up as an example of “intelligent”, in which case we might call the triad of evolutionary variables of acceleration and deceleration (body*brain)/culture?)
Final postulate: Culture is to body*brain as AI is to computers. And this includes the possible evil nature of the culture as a divisor, currently known as Cult 45. (Oh come on, I never said that. Or, hey, it was just a joke.)
IMO the big question is, as we humans try to leave Mother Nature further and further behind, and incorporate AI into our bodies, minds, and cultures, will we get to realize it as evolution to the fourth power, and/or will we lose total control? Or somewhere in between. (Kids, good luck with this!)August 13, 2020 at 8:42 am #32862
Surely it’s all about selection pressures. It all depends on what makes people differentially reproduce. So if some people can’t fit into a culture, it means that they are less likely to be mated with and therefore less likely to pass on their genes.
Have you read “The Better Angels of Our Nature”, by Steven Pinker? He talks about culture/gene coevolution. For example, about the general pacification of the human race in the past 10,000 years:
Behavioral genetics confirms that aggressive tendencies can be inherited, and that gives natural selection material to work with in shifting the average violent tendencies in a population.August 13, 2020 at 3:55 pm #32871
Surely it’s all about selection pressures.
OK, but I’m differentiating between natural and artificial selection processes. Human intelligence is largely selected for, yes, but so have been the “terrible angels of our nature”, even if they seem to be mostly in our past. I like that we’re generally more humanitarian these days, but if (say) humans happen to wipe themselves out or even wipe out the whole planet, I wouldn’t call the process a “natural” selection process; it would happen because humans have usurped the natural selection process that’s been natural law for billions of years.
If AI were to take over and eliminate us and perhaps other life, would you still say it’s just all about selection pressures?
So if some people can’t fit into a culture, it means that they are less likely to be mated with and therefore less likely to pass on their genes.
Would you say that same rule applies to say, the culture of China’s one child policy of the past?August 13, 2020 at 4:32 pm #32872
I wouldn’t call the process a “natural” selection process; it would happen because humans have usurped the natural selection process that’s been natural law for billions of years.
There is only natural and supernatural. “Unnatural” is a human linguistic invention. Anything humans can do is ipso facto natural in the sense of happening in the context of and 100% allowed by nature.August 13, 2020 at 4:35 pm #32873
I don’t mean “entangled” in its quantum context. Should I say “intertwined”, or something else
Yeah, “entangled” just confuses things.August 14, 2020 at 12:10 am #32881
Would you say that same rule applies to say, the culture of China’s one child policy of the past?
Is that an evolutionary selection pressure? What trait would be selected for? Having one child? I’m sure that Chinese parents still are capable of having more than one child.
artificial selection processes
I know there are natural, social, and (possibly) cultural evolutionary selection pressures. How could AI provide selection processes?
According to Michael Tomasello, cultural selection pressures lead to people being good at living in cultures generally, as opposed to not having a clue what to do about following norms and respecting traditions and institutions etc.August 25, 2020 at 5:10 pm #33011
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