Cathy Woodgold woodgold at seismo.emr.ca
Fri Jun 3 09:14:05 EST 1994

In article qo at netcom.com, jabowery at netcom.com (Jim Bowery) writes:
> Clearly in animals where learning is critical, as it is in humans
> in a technological civilization, we should expect to see strong selective
> pressures toward life-long learning, prolonged fertility in women
> and general longevity.  However, technological civilization is brand
> new in evolutionary terms.  To first order, we can view the genetic
> algorithms that have evolved as working to overcome natural 
> deterioration by restarting the execution of the programs via
> reproduction.  There just wasn't any big advantage to longevity.
> There is now.
Technological society is NOT brand new!  Of course, our current style of
technology is brand new.  But technology such as flint arrowheads has
been around for a long time (millions of years?).  Even agriculture has
been around for thousands of years, long enough to affect traits that evolve
quickly.  Humans have lived in societies for millions of years, and
longevity (even after the reproductive years end) has had advantages
throughout that time.

I'm thinking about Inuit who used to commit suicide when they got old
so they wouldn't be a burden on their communities.  Evolutionarily,
the most advantageous thing (for animals who live in communities, as
humans do) would be to live a fairly long time and then die off suddenly,
before inevitable deterioration makes one a drain on the community.
This could be a reason for a death clock to evolve (though I don't think
this applies to fruit flies!  unless older flies would contribute
gametes with too many mutations).

Cathy             TISSATAAFL

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