Testing Evolution – How to Do It

Sketch by Leonardo da Vinci

This is part of a series: Testing Evolution

This post is mainly written for anyone who wants to duplicate my results. I’ll try to make it accessible to non-geeks, but there are a lot of technical details.

Summary:

  • I used an evolution simulator to test evolution because that was the easiest way to do it with my skill set
  • My big insight: mutation and natural selection are, for lack of a better term, platform-independent
  • I clarify what exactly mutation and natural selection are, and why I can do the same process to self-copying programs
  • I give examples of other evolutionary algorithms, to give an idea of what most of their authors’ goals are and how they write them
  • I list the main differences between my algorithm and most evolutionary algorithms
    1. They do artificial selection, while mine does natural selection
    2. They usually make their creatures a collection of settings or useful attributes, while I made mine actual programs written in a general-purpose programming language
    3. They mutate as few things as practical, while mine mutates the entire creature’s source code
    4. They reward small, but insignificant improvements, while mine only rewards changes that significantly improve a creature’s ability to spread its genes
    5. They put the creature copier in the simulator, while I put it in each creature

I wanted to test Atheism by testing evolution, but I needed to decide how.

Continue reading Testing Evolution – How to Do It

Defining Life – What it Means if I’m Right

Old Dandylion

This is part of a series: Define Life

In my previous post, I tried to make a more precise definition of life.  Now, I’ll list some practical ramifications of it.

Continue reading Defining Life – What it Means if I’m Right

Defining Life – Putting it All Together

Human egg being fertilized

This is part of a series: Define Life

I’ve listed the most common views on exactly what life is – now I’ll try to do better. But first, I’ll list my biases:

  1. In my opinion, there are a couple of inventions that will likely be created within the next 100 years which I think should be considered life. However, most people who I’ve met disagree. These inventions are:
    • Clanking replicators
      Self-sustaining, fully automated factories made of current human technology, or something not much more advanced. Each “cell” will be easily big enough to see, and would probably come in the form of a small building or a group of robots that can collectively sustain themselves, and even reproduce.

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Correctly Defining Life

The Many Forms of Life

This is part of a series: Define Life

In this series, I want to define life precisely enough to answer this question:

  • When an inventor says that his invention is a new form of life, is he right?
    Whoever answers should be able to reasonably and conclusively explain why, or why not.

One of the most profound scientific discoveries is that biological life is made of ordinary matter, and is an extremely advanced machine.  If life really is a machine, then human engineers will eventually be able to create it themselves.  I’m not talking about merely manually building and assembling the parts of God’s creatures, I’m talking about a truly new form of life that is radically different from what God made.  I’m talking about fully artificial life, designed and built by humans.

Continue reading Correctly Defining Life