With technology and new technique in artificial intelligence redefining how life can be created opening a research window into the early moments of a human life perhaps the above question is not so farcical, despite some thorny ethical constraints like artificial embryos.
In a breakthrough that redefines how life can be created, embryologists working at the University of Cambridge in the UK have grown realistic-looking mouse embryos using only stem cells. No egg. No sperm. Just cells plucked from another embryo.
What if they turn out to be indistinguishable from real embryos?
Then there are advances in genomic biotechnology presenting the possibility of bringing back long-extinct species.
To get from the genome work in the lab to herds of Woolly Mammoths would definitely bring the survival of the fittest into question.
Generative adversarial network, or GAN, takes two neural networks—the simplified mathematical models of the human brain that underpin most modern machine learning—and pits them against each other in a digital cat-and-mouse game. It is endeavouring to give machines imagination.
DNA has linked 206 variants to intelligence. One day, babies will get DNA report cards at birth.
Herbert Spencer coined the term “Survival of the Fittest” in 1864.
Darwin intended “fittest” to mean the members of the species best suited for the immediate environment, the basis of the idea of natural selection.
Darwin’s distinctive idea was to emphasize natural selection as the main mechanism of evolution: if certain heritable traits increase or decrease the chances of survival and reproduction in the struggle for life, then those traits that favour survival and reproduction will increase in frequency over generations, and thus organisms will become more adapted to their environments, and over a long period of time the differences between varieties of a species can become so great that the varieties become new species.
On the one hand, he tells the reader to disregard his metaphorical personification of Nature as implying “conscious choice” or “intelligent power,” because nature should be understood as “only the aggregate action and product of many natural laws.”
On the other hand, he refuses to give up his personification of Nature, apparently because he senses that this engages the mind of the reader through the poetic imagery of Nature as a person.
The survival of the fittest that determines everything is stuck in our lexicon. With the phrase today commonly used in contexts that are incompatible with the original meaning as intended.
When it comes to technology “Survival of the fittest” is inaccurate for two important reasons.
First, survival is merely a normal prerequisite to reproduction.
Second, fitness has specialized meaning in biology different from how the word is used in popular culture. In population genetics, fitness refers to differential reproduction. “Fitness” does not refer to whether an individual is “physically fit” – bigger, faster or stronger – or “better” in any subjective sense.
It refers to a difference in reproductive rate from one generation to the next.
But in evolutionary terms, survival is only half the picture; you must also reproduce to be “fit” in the Darwinian sense.
The influence of the environment on life expectancy in the future will be far greater political, not a biological issue. It will be the survival of those best able to adapt to change.
Resources, especially those necessary for survival, will become more valued.
Artificial intelligence may gain, along with a sense of imagination, a more independent ability to make sense of what it sees in the world but is the technology ready?
If the AI revolution is going to spread Darwin natural selection it will have to be updated, then the real AI revolution can begin. Darwin always brought in information and made a whole new picture out of it.
Is Darwin still relevant today? Yes. You’d be hard-pressed to find a biology class that isn’t based on evolutionary biology. Yet the explanatory power of the evolutionary theory is not bound to biology.
Why? Because the theory of evolution is still evolving.
As the late Russian Orthodox Christian Theodosius Dobzhansky wrote, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”
Darwin not only made us aware of how nature works, but also of our place within nature. ( Unfortunately for him the discovery of DNA and that Quantum Mathematics governs all biology had not been discovered)
Evolution now needs to be critically evaluated in the classroom, rather than dogmatically indoctrinated.
Artificial intelligence is and will take both to a whole new level and transform them into something relevant to our time and our discoveries.
Thus, we say that all the individuals of a species comprise a gene pool from which selection (either artificial or natural) can select. The important point is that we cannot select for genes that are not in the gene pool of the species. Only clones have the same genes and are essentially identical—including the same sex.
In the future, the evolutionist must look to mutations, their most ludicrous mechanism of all.
A new DARPA research program is developing brain-computer interfaces that could control “swarms of drones, operating at the speed of thought.” What if it succeeds?
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