Re: Singularity awareness

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sun Jun 04 2006 - 11:33:40 MDT

> The "narrow" viewpoint of "selection-focused" evolutionary biology is,
> as far as I know, mainstream science. Non-mainstream evolutionary
> theories regularly decry the focus on selection rather than their own
> favorite hypothetical forces - but it is well to remember that they are
> not mainstream.
> --
> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
> Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

I agree that the majority attitude among contemporary biologists is
what I would call "narrowly selection-focused", but I don't think that
the alternative attitude is all *that* rare in the biology

For instance, I think that currently a
self-organization/emergence-rather-than-selection focus is more common
in the bio community than an AGI focus is in the AI community ;-)

Having worked a lot with biologists in the last few years, I am
specifically not confident in the ability of the contemporary biology
community to come to grips with "big issues" regarding the nature of
life, evolution, and so forth. Biologists by and large have become
very narrow-focused, which is to the science's benefit in some
regards, but not all regards.

Regarding Gould, I know he is controversial and I don't agree with him
on all points myself, so I don't want to have a thread on the pros and
cons of Gould. IMO that would be a complicated argument as he had a
lot of very good points as well as a lot of misleading examples and
overstatements in his writings.

The arguments between selection-focused and self-organization-focused
evolutionary biology theorists are ultimately somewhat subtle, because
(almost) everyone accepts the existence of a common set of processes
and mechanisms -- so their arguments are basically over the relative
frequency and relative importance of various phenomena. These are
tricky arguments to resolve when the data we have (regarding the
history of evolution) is so poor...

-- Ben G

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