Can A Mindless Process Become An Engineer?

In the promising field of biomimetics where intelligently designed human-made processes, substances, devices, or systems come about by imitating nature. In most research papers, very little is said about evolution, although many of the papers will give evolution credit. In a quest to integrate everything originating from a mindless process including engineering, evolution has now become an engineer too!

Sounds contrary doesn’t it? Because engineering is an application of scientific and mathematical principles to practical ends such as the design, manufacturing, along with producing efficient and economical structures or machines, various processes and more.

Science Daily applies engineering to evolution with its headline...”Evolution Inspires More Efficient Solar Cell Design,” the article goes on to say…

Using a mathematical search algorithm based on natural evolution, the researchers pinpointed a specific geometrical pattern that is optimal for capturing and holding light in thin-cell organic solar cells.…

The researchers employed a genetic algorithm, a search process that mimics the process of natural evolution, explained Wei Chen, Wilson-Cook Professor in Engineering Design and professor of mechanical engineering at McCormick and co-investigator of the research.”

“Due to the highly nonlinear and irregular behavior of the system, you must use an intelligent approach to find the optimal solution,” Chen said. “Our approach is based on the biologically evolutionary process of survival of the fittest.”

How can intelligent engineering be connected to survival of the fittest? It even says in the research paper, you must use an “intelligent approach” to achieve optimization! That isn’t evolution, that is intelligent design! This is an experiment that uses artificial selection with of a purpose of a design by using an algorithm created by intelligence, and pinpointing a desired result. How can an unguided and mindless process who’s only goal is to improve competition for survival?

And on another subject, why would evolution break its own rule by creating more complex creatures which are not as fit as bacteria is? Bacteria as you might know is the most adaptable creature on earth, which can survive in the most extreme elements known to man. Why would evolution tinker with that (if it could) to make creature less fit for survival? Just like linking evolution to engineering, it doesn’t make logical sense!

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3 thoughts on “Can A Mindless Process Become An Engineer?

  1. MIT PARK CENTER
    Systems Biology using Axiomatic Design and Complexity Theory

    One of the goals of systems biology is to understand the functions of a biological system in terms of the behavior and interactions of its molecular constituents. The task is difficult because both the physiological functions and the physical and chemical structures of biological systems consist of many levels of aggregation and hierarchy. In this work, we are trying to present a roadmap for establishing the relationship between the high-level functions and molecular-level interactions is presented. It is based on the application of Axiomatic Design theory and complexity theory that have been developed for engineered systems.

    http://web.mit.edu/pccs/research/systemsbio.html

  2. Michael’s ignorance is always appalling. In this post is is stupefying. Consider this gem of mental disorientation—

    How can intelligent engineering be connected to survival of the fittest? It even says in the research paper, you must use an “intelligent approach” to achieve optimization! That isn’t evolution, that is intelligent design! This is an experiment that uses artificial selection with of a [sic] purpose of a design by using an algorithm created by intelligence, and pinpointing a desired result. How can an unguided and mindless process who’s [sic] only goal is to improve competition for survival? […. sic]

    Biomimetics is the examination of nature, its models, systems, processes, and elements to emulate or take inspiration from in order to solve human problems.[1]

    The definition embraces two different kinds of subjects: products and processes.

    Products that mimic natural systems and elements include vision systems that recognize faces, nanomaterials that refract light, and many other products. These mimic a result, although they may not employ the same method of construction or structure. Commercial pattern-recognition systems, for example, function quite differently from animal brains. Evolution has nothing at all to do with this type of biomimetics. We don’t care how the natural system or material arose; the only relevant characteristic is its structure at the present time.

    Processes that mimic natural processes include bacterial production of human insulin, genetic algorithms for designing antennas, and many other applications. Here, inspiration is taken from the method by which nature accomplishes a result,m although the end result may differ. GMO insulin production, for example, co-opts a cell’s transcription mechanism for its own proteins in order to produce a product specified by a foreign gene. Genetic algorithms mimic natural selection, but change its fitness function from reproductive success to an artificially specified performance criterion.

    Biomimetics are inspired by something in nature. They are not themselves nature; they are designed. In particular, genetic algorithms utilize one of the mechanisms of biological evolution[2] to improve the design of a human artifact. Their structures, usually implemented in computers, are designed by humans; their fitness functions are specified by humans; the characteristics of the “organism” that is to be improved are designed by human intelligence. The only aspect that is similar to biological evolution is the way in which the algorithm operates,

    The only actual connection between biological evolution and genetic algorithms is that these algorithms show that evolutionary “survival of the fittest” is capable of improving the performance of almost anything, and that it is capable of creating novel and unexpected results that were never themselves designed into the systems which execute the algorithms, or anticipated by the designers in any way.[3]

    So Michael’s title, “Can A Mindless Process Become An Engineer?” is a meaningless question. It is neither right nor wrong. It is a stupid question, demonstrating ignorance of what genetic algorithms are.

    Michael would do better to stick to lifting his material from his creationist sources, who are ignorant enough in biology, without adding his own ha’penny worth of sciolism as well.

    ===================

    [1] Wikipedia, “Biomimicry”. Accord, Merriam-Webster, “biomimetics”; WhatIs.com “biomimetics”; Dictionary.com, “biomimetics.”

    [2] Thus far, they utilize only selection. In the future, they may also incorporate factors inspired by neutral drift, epigenetics, or other evolutionary mechanisms.

    [3] Frequently the designs produced by genetic algorithms are puzzling, or even shocking, to the designers of the systems. For a striking example, see Mitchell, Complexity: A Guided Tour (Oxford U. Press2009), pp. 160-168. The authors of this evolutionary algorithm spent months trying to figure out how their creation worked, much less how it came up with that structure.

  3. Evolution postulates that a mindless process created today’s (human) engineers thus Michael’s question is warranted. It is scientific to ask, can a mindless process create information? So high [nature worshiping] priest Olorin, present to us repeatable instances where no information (big bang, t = 0) naturally created information (big bang, t = 0+).

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