Gil Dodgen: Uncommonly Dense

Gil Dodgen posted the following over at Uncommon Descent:

All computational evolutionary algorithms artificially isolate the effects of random mutation on the underlying machinery: the CPU instruction set, operating system, and algorithmic processes responsible for the replication process.

If the blind-watchmaker thesis is correct for biological evolution, all of these artificial constraints must be eliminated. Every aspect of the simulation, both hardware and software, must be subject to random errors.

Of course, this would result in immediate disaster and the extinction of the CPU, OS, simulation program, and the programmer, who would never get funding for further realistic simulation experiments.

All I can say is “wow”. Either Dodgen is having us all on (which I doubt, since he’s started a new thread to respond to the charge that he doesn’t know WTF he’s talking about), or he honestly doesn’t understand the difference between the simulated environment and the machine doing the simulating.

Presumably he also believes that when NOAA simulates the effect of a hurricane hitting the Florida coast, they have to pour rain onto their computers. And that every time an orc dies in World of Warcraft, a real orc dies in some distant land.

I know that I’m often too rooted in the concrete and have trouble going from a collection of facts to a general principle, but damn!

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14 Responses to Gil Dodgen: Uncommonly Dense

  1. Fez says:

    Is he any relation to Zoe?

    Like

  2. mcoletti says:

    facepalm

    Like

  3. JanieBelle says:

    Holy Crap that was classic.

    Thanks for the mammary.

    Like

  4. themayan says:

    Holy crap, facepalm, World of War Craft….. Great intellectual arguments gentlemen.

    Like

  5. Fez says:

    themayan Says:

    Holy crap, facepalm, World of War Craft….. Great intellectual arguments gentlemen.

    Because sometimes the stupid is so obvious one can simply leave the brain in neutral. Have anything else to offer, troll?

    Like

  6. limboAZ says:

    Wow, you don’t realize that the underlying machinery implicitly becomes part of the simulation in genetic algorithms?

    This wouldn’t be such a problem if it weren’t for the fact that some people use the (albeit limited) success of computer based genetic algorithms as proof that the creative ability of mutations and natural selection in evolution is practically limitless. There is a high degree of intelligence in the underlying machinery that is swept under the carpet by those who wish to overstate the similarities between computer based computer algorithms and Darwinian evolution.

    Like

  7. limboAZ says:

    last sentence, make that “computer based GENETIC algorithms.

    Like

  8. arensb says:

    limboAZ:

    Wow, you don’t realize that the underlying machinery implicitly becomes part of the simulation in genetic algorithms?

    So you’re saying that if I were to pour a bucket of water on one of Blizzard’s servers, it would rain in World of Warcraft?

    Like

  9. Fez says:

    limboAZ says:

    Wow, you don’t realize that the underlying machinery implicitly becomes part of the simulation in genetic algorithms?… There is a high degree of intelligence in the underlying machinery that is swept under the carpet by those who wish to overstate the similarities between computer based computer algorithms and Darwinian evolution.

    So what you’re saying is that if I run my GA on a computer running Windows on top of an Intel i7 processor, then rerun the same GA with the same parameters on a computer running Solaris 10 on top of an Ultrasparc III processor I will see different results that can only be attributed to some undefined “intelligence” in the hardware, OS, choice of implementation language, compiler(s), or entropy source?

    Since all of the above factors can be accounted for and controlled there should be a way to define the qualities of this “intelligence” and provide a description of it. Let me know how that investigation works out for you.

    Like

  10. nikkipolya says:

    Do you realize that employing “Intelligent design” only transforms one problem into another. Transferring all the questions without actually answering any questions. If laws of physics, and biology came through an “external” “intelligent” “being”. Where did the “external” “intelligent” “being” come from? Did it evolve or was it also designed? Who designed this other being then? Another “external” “intelligent” “being”… ad infinitum?

    I don’t understand what you guys are reveling about? You are happy that the first set of questions are answered and don’t care about the next series of questions that it throws up. You can as well take life and physical laws for granted and carry on… instead of invoking the ghosts and sundry…

    Like

  11. arensb says:

    nikkipolya:
    You’ll notice that ID proponents, when they’re not talking to church groups, are rather vague about the identity and characteristics of the unnamed designer. In fact, they go out of their way to say that nothing can be said about the designer even though that would seem to be a fairly obvious question. E.g., if you postulate that the designer designed the bacterial flagellum, then it follows that the designer is the sort of entity that would want there to be a flagellum, which gives rise to all sorts of other questions (what kind of mind does the designer have? Why would he/she/it/they want a flagellum?).

    Of course, they all know that by “designer”, they mean God. And asking tough questions about God leads to some uncomfortable answers.

    Like

  12. nikkipolya says:

    arensb:

    ‘arensb’, thanks a lot for your reply!

    So, instead of invoking ID, creationism, or other nihilistic theories, that lack any concrete evidence, I just prefer to say, “we don’t know how the universe got here”. We should let more evidence accumulate and may be one day we *might* know how the universe got here.

    Like

  13. arkady59 says:

    Isn’t the totality of a living system available to random alteration? If so, wouldn’t subjecting the totality of a system purporting to simulate evolutionary process be a more accurate representation of the real system as it exists in the real world???

    I don’t think the author’s comment concerning NOAA’s computer system is applicable (it would be if the programming was subjected to random errors, ones left to be corrected to addtional code “arising” from the same random proceesses.) The bit about “Orcs” is just silly….

    Dodgen probably has a point.

    Like

  14. arensb says:

    arkady59:

    Isn’t the totality of a living system available to random alteration? If so, wouldn’t subjecting the totality of a system purporting to simulate evolutionary process be a more accurate representation of the real system as it exists in the real world???

    *Sigh* Okay, let’s try this again:

    Nate Silver over at FiveThirtyEight runs computer simulations to try to predict the outcome of elections. There’s nothing magical about his program: it doesn’t do anything that he couldn’t, in principle, do with paper and pencil. It’s just a lot faster and easier. But for the sake of argument, let’s say that he decides to run his simulation by hand, with paper and pencil.

    An awful lot of factors can affect the outcome of an election: how many people are registered to vote, how many registered voters are Republicans, how popular the incumbents are, even whether it rains on election day.

    So let’s say that Nate has painstakingly done the math and figured out that the incumbent has a 58% chance of winning reelection. And now he starts all over, with the same formulas, the same poll data, the same everything. But this time, we pour water on him as he’s doing it (because rain can affect elections).

    Question: will this affect the outcome of Nate’s calculation? If yes, then basically you’re saying that 2+2=4 in ordinary cases but 2+2≠4 if someone’s spraying water on the person doing the calculation.

    Dodgen probably has a point.

    True, but if he combs over it, maybe nobody’ll notice.

    Like

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