Saturday, November 12, 2011


Here's a new comment from Baron P (at Acquired Purposes) that some may find interesting, as he's put the provenance of deception in a place I wouldn't have ordinarily expected to find it:
"The 'survival' strategy of the universe's energetic system is to learn of and anticipate the 'known' and concurrently expect the 'unknown.' Thus organisms with conscious connections to their surroundings learn to anticipate events and consequentially come to trust the anticipated.
And to distrust those signals that have not been to the same extent expected. And the signalers learn in turn to make signals conform to their competitive and predatory needs, and thus these 'deceptive' actions (as the more abstract thinkers have come to call it), have arisen and continue to fuel the evolutionary advancement of all purposive strategies."


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Evolution By Everyone

Interesting exchange with Dr. David Sloan Wilson at his blog, Evolution for Everyone

The following is slightly redacted, but hopefully not too far out of context:

On the subject of the function of traits, Dr. Wilson had commented that, "Not all traits are adaptive; they can be a product of drift, a byproduct of other traits, or adaptive in the past but not the present."

I commented: But that's the point, at some time in the evolutionary past, all traits were strategically successful behaviors somewhere. The question being, did these organisms then generate their strategies from experience, or if you are to continue arguing that they didn't, what was it that so magically produced them? Or did these first forms somehow cause their functions (as you seem to suggest) and functions somehow caused their strategies in turn?

Dr. Wilson was kind enough to answer: "I have difficulty understanding what you are driving at. If we restrict ourselves to adaptations that evolve by natural selection, it's true that they are strategically successful by definition, but this begs the question of how they evolved in the total population (e.g., by within-group vs. between-group selection, natural vs. sexual selection). If we consider the non-adaptive side of the evolutionary coin, then your statement "all traits in the end evolve from strategically successful behaviors" appears to be just plain wrong. Can you clarify what you are driving at, including what you think I am trying to hide from?"

["Hiding from" was an echo of something he'd said earlier, but I noted it was with reference to the new work being done under the headings of adaptive mutation, or self-engineering, or facilitated variation, or anticipatory systems, etc.]

I then left this answer for the record:

"OK, I'll summarize some of what is being discovered as succinctly as I can without making it an argument:
The cells that retain the memory of an experience then pass on that memory to those they have been divided into. Inheritance of acquired memories of experience, no? And many generations appear to be affected - and the effects of this experience can't be completely erased from the genome if the experience itself is replicated or repeated in a particular environment. And this seems one of the ways that cells evolve to anticipate and deal strategically with a multitude of problems.
Because it seems to be the present case with most social species that their form of culture is a preserver of learned strategies, some of which by reason of their effectiveness will become instinctive, and our earliest life forms may have started that instinctive process by passing the memories of learning directly through cell division. While later on when sexual selection and the like evolved, the mechanism for passing on what would be needed as socially instructive was a "culture" that required its lessons taught at least by example - and thus evolved our methods of communication for sharing memories that was more efficient then cell memory copying, especially as that original method of procreation did not apply all that well to multi cellular organisms.
Which leads one, or at least me, to opine that all evolution from the getgo was and had to have been a social/cultural phenomenon. Learning creates strategies which create forms to fit, which gain experience that strategies adapt to, and through cultural sharing by example or advances in communication, spread the impetus for readaptation throughout the groups accordingly.
Cultures assist in the heritability of acquired characteristics: Cultures provide the platform for their strategic development and purpose, and in addition help "spread the word" that accelerates the acquisition of these strategies "instinctively."
Strategy is the function of intelligence. The form alone has no intelligence. It can't choose, even though it's a cause of choice. The function chooses form and/or chooses how it will be caused to adapt.
There's more of course, but cutting to the chase, I don't think there is a non-adaptive side of the evolutionary coin and that indeed it's more than possible that "all traits in the end evolve from strategically successful behaviors. Posted by: Roy Niles | June 1, 2011 4:43 PM "

If I get an interesting response I'll post it here. Unless I get blown out of the water, in which case I'll deep six this whole posting.


Ok, I got a response from Dr. Wilson that, "This is cool stuff." However, "I think it is too extreme to say that all aspects of evolution are anticipatory. Good old fashioned Mendelian genetics still accounts for a lot."

And I said, "But having an anticipatory function doesn't negate the utility or purpose of these other processes. We, in short, anticipate the accidents of nature - without the one we wouldn't need or have the other."

Friday, May 06, 2011

Acquisitionally on Purpose

I want to "borrow" something I just noted on the blog Acquired Purposes, author, BaronP. He wrote:
"A lot's being written now with titles such as 'Why do humans reason?' and 'Arguments for an argumentative theory.' Interesting but as usual no-one is looking at our system's deeper evolutionary purpose. The points they are missing in a nutshell are these:
Our predictive systems are using probabilistic logic in one sense, but not necessarily as in Bayesian or other factual premise driven systems. Because what we in our subconscious processing are looking for are familiar patterns, and we assess them not so much for consequences of expected behaviors but for past purposes that those patterns must (from historical assessments) represent.
The problem then becomes one of how those predicted or predictive purposes might help us to anticipate the tactical natures of apposing learned or inherited strategies.
The probabilities depend on the perceived purposes, hence the premises involved are not so much factual as conceptual.
The concept of conceivable purposes. "
Something I hadn't heard of before, although I too am a big fan of purpose in its various guises.
I hope the writer doesn't mind that I cited this, or that I intend to pursue this aspect of the matter further.
(Perhaps as my conceptual motivation?)