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originally posted by: Astyanax
A paper titled How Can Evolution Learn? has just been published in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution. In it, the authors propose that, under the influence of evolutionary pressure, genomes may behave like neural networks.
Neural networks are computer networks that ‘learn’ from ‘experience’ to produce better and better solutions to the problems they are asked to process. Every time a neural network produces a good solution, the connexions within the network that produced the solution are reinforced. When the network is later given another problem of the same kind, it will tend to use the same connexions to process it rather than starting from scratch and trying every possible path to a solution all over again.
Humans and other animals also learn the same way: successful processing paths in our brains are strengthened, unsuccessful ones atrophy. Over time the person or animal comes to acquire a useful behavioural trait or skill.
It isn’t very shocking to imagine that biological information-processing networks should have this property. The design of artificial neural networks is based on that of human brains and nervous systems. What is novel is the idea that gene networks, too, may work this way. Genomes may have an evolutionary bias towards developing workable adaptations to selective pressures, rather than just producing random mutations.
This hypothesis introduces a teleological factor into the model of evolution by natural selection. Of course, the authors of the paper are not suggesting that the hypothetical bias towards producing useful rather than deleterious mutations was God-given, but that it is itself a product of evolution. However, Creationists may be tempted to embrace the idea that life has a ‘designed’ preference towards evolving beneficial adaptations.
The original paper is behind a paywall, but this news article gives the gist: Life May Actually Be Getting Better at Evolving.
Please stay on topic. Other thread participants may do as they wish, but I shall only respond to those whose replies make it plain that they have read at least the linked news item. I shall make no comment on generic claims in favour of either creationism or evolution.
originally posted by: spy66
a reply to: Phantom423
How can humans have evolved. Today we have to be educated to live within the social system we have created.
Each year kids start fresh at grade one. Why...... because they have not evolved to automatically fit in. They have to be groomed and shaped.
It is not we humans who evovle it is the social system we create that evolves. And we have to be shaped and groomed to drift it and fit in.
I'm in no way a scientist but isn't evolution a form of learning what changes in a species need to be made to survive in its environment in regards to living conditions predators, etc.
it seems I fell for a sleight of hand in the OP... This isn't really about whether or not evolution can learn, but more about if the genome can learn.