January 25, 2014

WE ARE ALL DESIGNISTS NOW:

Unriddling Robots (Steve King, 1/25/14, BNR)

The intersection of evolution and robotics inspires Darwin's Devices, John Long's study of "What Evolving Robots Can Teach Us About the History of Life and the Future of Technology." A biology professor at Vassar College, Long and his team use an ever-adapting series of bio-robotic tadpoles ("Tadros") to help explain fish evolution:

Like a clumsy criminal, adaptation leaves behind many clues in the DNA and anatomy of extinct and living species. But adaptation never leaves behind witnesses or surveillance tape. Biologists inevitably have to guess at the process of evolution. The best guesses about what went on come from reconstructing events. Using the clues -- the physical evidence -- good investigators can piece together a step-by-step sequence of places, agents, and interactions that most likely caused the outcome.

And what can we do to test this sequence? We can build models, let them run, and see if their behavior matches our predictions based on our evolutionary reconstruction. But we can also do one better: let the models evolve.
Posted by at January 25, 2014 7:24 AM
  
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