Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fantastic quote on evolution

Understanding the fundamentals of evolution is key because we so often get it wrong. Think of Darwin's lament. Evolution is part of our everyday parlance, and even though the game of life is a fact of life, we intentionally and unintentionally misrepresent, steadily. We think, incorrectly, that individuals evolve, that individuals act for the good of the species, that some species are primitive and others are advanced, that a ladder of life describes descent with modification, and that evolution is always working to make species better. We incorrectly intuit that complexity is always more evolutionarily advanced than simplicity, that evolution is goal driven, that evolutionary change is linear and in one direction, that any anatomical structure evolved long ago for the function it fulfills today, and that humans aren't evolving anymore - wrong, wrong, wrong!
Jon Long
"Darwin's Devices"
Of course, I first heard about this book from Tyler Cowen (hat tip). It's a fantastic study of how we can use robots to better understand minut evolutionary changes.

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