Written by IainB
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Friday, 6 July 2012

image for Intelligent Design fail to explain evolutionary algorithms
Evolutionary algorithms have evolved better plane wings

One of the greatest achievements of the science of evolution is the evolutionary algorithm.

This mainstay of computing and design was a completely unforeseen extension of the theory of evolution by natural selection, and has rapidly become the biggest thorn in the side of Intelligent Design.

"Evolutionary algorithms are, in essence, very simple," said Steven Pull, who works for Spire Evolution in Chesterfield. "You set the algorithm working on something that exists, like a plane wing, and let it make it more efficient."

There is no human involvement in the process, it is done completely according to the rules laid down by evolution theory.

"It doesn't matter what we're doing," said Pull. "Evolution can always improve it. You'll notice that all modern aircraft have turned up wing edges, and the position of the engines is closer to the body of the aircraft now. This is because the algorithm has discovered that this is more efficient."

ID have tried to claim that the outcome of the evolution is still a plane wing, but Pull believes that they are completely missing the point.

"It's an incremental improvement, and we're focusing on one aspect, as that is what we're paid to do," he said. "We also run science projects, starting with simulated fish, and see what happens. New species generate over time. And if we reset the system, it comes up with different ways of ending at the same point. We get different new species, showing just how random it is."

Pull would like to re-run evolution in computer time to see what would happen, but such a project would require the resources of a university as it's curiosity based, not industry driven.

"We'd have to throw in periodic extinction events," he said. "And as evolution took two billion years to go from bacteria to eukaryotes, it's going to take some time. Once eukaryotes evolve though, and there's no guarantee they would, that's when life gets interesting."

Pull has a simple message for the creationist movement: "Just grow up and accept that just because you don't understand it, doesn't mean it's wrong."

Michael Beye, spokesman for the ID movement, believes that Steven Pull has also missed the point.

"Intelligent Design isn't about evolution," he said. "It's about power. We want to be in power so we can make lots of money and have women find us attractive. We chose evolution because it was easier to write about than quantum physics. Most of the quantum physicists come out with makes no sense anyway. We couldn't compete with them. Once people like Pull realise we're just in this for the money and girls, and not for the ideology, then we can all get along happier."

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