# The evolution of trust / morality

Over at Uncommon Descent, our friend Barry Arrington has a post, Bargaining With a Machine – which seems to be making a supernatural case for morality. I’d like to offer  this as a counterpoint and would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Happy Valentines all xxx.

# A preserved dinosaur tail with feathers on it has been found

Full story: http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/08/health/dinosaur-tail-trapped-in-amber-trnd/index.html

I’d love proponents of both evolution and ID to tell me how their theories predicted this, along with supporting documentation from before the discovery. Thanks!

# Evodoku?

Hi everyone. I think we’re collectively at our best when we explore new things. As things seem we’re a little fractious right now let me offer up my idea for what might be a pleasant diversion.

Sodoku: http://www.sudoku.com/

It kind of has a genome and fitness criteria, right?

Let’s take just one 3×3 grid. It could have a genome of 9 digits, and competing fitness functions: (sum or product, max or min) for 3 rows, 3 columns, 2 diagonals and of course some rule about using all the digits (or not if we want better mutations). Each of the 9 genes would affect 2 or 3 (or 4 for gene number 5, in the middle of the square) of the fitness functions. Can we create a simulation, with drifting fitness functions and see how organisms evolve. Will this show islands of function and a path to traverse between them?  This might be fun because a mutation can help in one regard whilst hurting in another. I’ll leave this here for now, let me know if anyone is interested…

# Is Design a Stochastic Process?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stochastic

Researchers use the term stochastic systems to describe the physical systems in which the values of parameters, measurements, expected input, and disturbances are uncertain

Would we expect different designers to create different designs? Does the same designer ever design competing solutions? Why is that? What factors inform a design decision and outcome?

Outside of hard determinism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_determinism) isn’t everything a stohastic process?

# Is language a search?

Given sentences can be expressed in a hierarchy / taxonomy that can have moveable, functional elements, are they amenable to exploitation / investigation by GAs? (We already know Markov Chains work – http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/idbots/ )

If All ideas can be expressed in language then could digitally evolved sentences be genuinely creative? It’s like genetic programming for people language 😀

H/T Mung.

# The Great Filter

Hoping this will be more fun / less confrontational, but certainly ID and non-ID perspectives will differ. In a nutshell ‘The Great Filter’ is an event that stops life inevitably filling the universe. Others have written much better accounts, so here is your background reading:

The Drake Equation

The Great Filter

One-stop synopsis if you don’t want the top 3

What do the folks here think? Is there a great filter(s) are we past it / them? My vote is there is at least one ahead of us and we probably won’t make it. Candidates include:

Environmental catastrophe, war using highly potent (N/B/C) weapons, religious zealotry taking us backwards..

I also think other possibilities are flawed assumptions in the Fermi Paradox (maybe marginal / diminishing utility in expansion beyond a certain point, or perhaps transcendence out of this physical realm for sufficiently advanced species. Certainly a million SciFi tropes (Let’s see if we can make a list? Childhood’s End, Mass Effect…) have come from this. What do you folks think?

# Evolving Phone Numbers

Over on  the The War is Over: We Won! thread at UD, The subject of phone numbers is brought up by Bob O:

lots of things are sequences. But they can be produced in lots of different ways. Frankly, I have difficulty seeing how phone numbers mate and recombine, especially when within a longer string of sequences.

Our beloved Mung is quick to retort:

Ah, the old “I cannot imagine” defense. I could write a program in which phone numbers mate and recombine. Incredulity is not an explanation.

We all love Mung having a go at programming. Come back and walk us through it.

A few of thoughts for discussion:

1. How big is the state space for phone numbers and how much functional space (viable / live numbers) is there?
2. What is the ‘evolutionary’ history of telephone numbers? How big was the ‘biogenesis’ phone number?
3. Is there a stepwise evolutionary history for phone numbers?
4. Or is this all evidence for Evolution by design!!!1111???

# The nature of us

I hope this starts a lively discussion. Be thankful I didn’t do the Social Justice post I was going to!

# Christiantoday.com sides with UMC against the DI / ID.

Here’s the article in full:

Christian Today Article

The best bit?:

….However, the UMC has taken the view – expressed though it is in dusty legalese – that in allowing the promotion of intelligent design at its conference would to connive at something which is, not to put too fine a point upon it, not true.

In this respect, it is surely right. It’s always possible to find things about life and its development that evolutionary theory has not yet succeeded in explaining. To argue from this that the answer must be “God did it” is ultimately self-defeating. Science advances, the number of unknowns diminishes, and God is driven into a smaller and smaller space accordingly. This “God of the gaps” approach has long been discredited.

The UMC appears to have taken the view that giving a platform – no matter how small – to a view as mistaken as this undermines the credibility of the gospel because it encourages people to believe things that aren’t true. Building a faith around falsehood is putting people’s souls in peril. The Discovery Institute may not like it, but the UMC is surely right to stand its ground.

(format not the same as the original). Thoughts?

# Math Genome Fun 2, UPB and beyond?

This is a follow-on from the original “Math Genome Fun” thread here

I think it’s time to test out GAs on a bigger problem, the old one was at the boundary of home computation for an exhaustive search (OMD I said “search!” get on that Mung) – but I’m going to propose a *much* bigger search / smaller target.

Friends, you target is Pi

I’ve chosen Pi because of its qualities, being irrational and transcendental you cannot describe it in an equation, only approximate it.

Our target is the first 150 digits of Pi.

Our vocabulary is the same numbers and operators as before: [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,+,-,*,/], but this time they can all be used as often as required and the genome can be anywhere from 1 to 1000 characters in length.

The design approximation is now harder due to the decimal place and the absence of zeros in our vocabulary (but there’s quite a few in Pi).

I’ve done no computation on this myself, can a GA find that proverbial needle in a haystack?

# Multicellularity? Not a problem.

“Our experiments show how biological complexity can evolve though simple, high-probability genetic paths,” said Thornton, who served as co-senior author. “Before the last common ancestor of all animals, when only single-celled organisms existed on Earth, just one tiny change in DNA sequence caused a protein to switch from its primordial role as an enzyme to a new function that became essential to organize multicellular structures.”

Let’s hope filling this gap creates two more, either side of it!