Saturday, October 18, 2003

Adam's Curse and Gödel

It is somewhat disconcerting to watch one's (female) partner reading Bryan Syke's Adam's Curse. The glint in her eye suggests pay back time.

One interesting aspect of evolution to consider is information processing.

Suppose for a minute that there was such a thing as group selection - that individuals will act to ensure the survival of the species rather than themselves. How would an individual know what was "good for the species"? It may be that humans can determine this (I doubt that we can or if we could there would be 5 billion opinions) but how would any individual from any other species be able to work this out?

One could argue that they do not have to, that the genes for working this out have been selected for and work it all out automatically. But then how would the gene know what state the species was in? Say we are talking about a species at risk of extinction such as the tiger. In order for the genes to instigate Save the Species Behaviour Strategy 1 they would have to know that this solitary animal was low in numbers. How would they gather such information - run a distance sampling survey?

And can a gene physically "know" and reason about such information in the first place? Information has to be represented in the brain as chemical interactions between neurons which takes space and resources. Genes are too small to do this. And then to "reason" takes a whole bunch of cells called a brain.

And the connection to Gödel? Try Gödel's Theorem and Information.

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