Evolution vs. De-Evolution

L.A. Loren lloren at mitre.org
Mon Sep 18 10:12:39 EST 2000


George Bajszar wrote:
> 
> Evolution vs. De-evolution
> 
> The natural process of our body is to de-evolve. If we would all stop
> using our legs, they would de-evolve in a few hundred or thousand
> generations. Naturally, everything has the tendency to de-evolve thus
> providing minimally evolved systems to survival, including our
> intelligence.

I am not clear the distinction between you are drawing between
"evolution" and "de-evolution". Presumably the animals from which
penguins evolved could fly, while penguins cannot. This does not mean
that penguins "de-evolved", it is just that their wings have adapted for
use in other activities. 

> The process of evolution is very strongly guided by de-evolutional
> aspects. In the future if machines would be serving us and relieving
> the burden of our creativity due to their superior intellects, there
> would be no survival and economic pressures for us to use our brains
> and we would begin a rapid de-evolution process in our intelligence.

Again, we would not de-evolve. We would simply adapt to function in a
changing environment.
 
[snip]
> The extent of intellectual de-evolution can take place incredibly
> rapidly. To point out one example, in one neuropsychological test it
> was shown that senior citizens moving to retirement homes dropped in
> their IQ dramatically within one year compared to ones who stayed at
> home to take care of themselves after retirement.

This is not evolution, or de-evolution. Evolution occurs across
generations and individuals (as you correctly pointed out earlier), it
does not work on one specific individual during the course of its life.

[snip]
> Quite interesting information I found recently is that evolutionary
> mutations are not completely random as it was thought. This has been
> shown by bacteria in a sugar solution to mutate toward metabolizing
> sugar faster than random chances would predict.

Mutation is not the only mechanism driving adaptation. Mutations are
almost always bad in that they rarely lead to changes that are helpful.
Selection, on the other hand, tends to produce a population of
individuals that is "more fit" than the generation before. Of course the
story is a bit more complicated because the environment is also
changing. In effect, all organisms are adapting to an environment that
is itself changing (trying to hit a moving target).

[snip]

Cheers,
Lew






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