Author Topic: The problem with design, can we know what it is?  (Read 280 times)

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Offline rickymooston

The problem with design, can we know what it is?
« on: October 05, 2011, 08:28:58 AM »
Theists infer design by way of analogy to the products of the human mind and of human hands.

Problem is, we are, pretty well,  the only designers that we know.

We see processes that work in a similar fashion to evolution. Things that progress and have random mutations of some sort.

In fact, the process of design, follows this. Memes discuss design ideas that have persisted and survived through human culture.

The distinction between something being "designed" and "evolved" is pretty artificial.

For example, John doesn't design a car in isolation. His design of a car comes from a wide variety of known examples of cars, of the principles of successful cars and thus, he as lead product engineer, chooses from these sort of factrors. His team works from that basis.

The creationist jokes fall flat. A 747 can be "assembled" over a long period of time. That is what happened here on earth. A long time passed. Humans evolved. Humans got to a degree of complexity where the produced more and more suffisticated designs of contraptions. Eventually an airplane was produced.


"i had learn to focus i what i could do rather what i couldn't do", Rick Hansen when asked about getting a disabling spinal cord injury at 15. He continues to raise money for spinal cord research and inspire peoople to "make a difference". He doesnt preach any religion.

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Re: The problem with design, can we know what it is?
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2011, 09:40:48 AM »
You wouldn't call biology a design in itself. It's premier function is to reproduce and change-adapt as it reproduces. It doesn't give a rats arse what it is, just so long as it survives. If we designed something, it would most likely be a static thing, which could not change, since we would perceive the design to be a finished product. Intelligence like ours perceives design as a logical thing which makes sense. Computer genetic algorithms that simulate evolving entities produce solutions that work very quickly, but are unfathomable. They just work. We could theoretically improve on our current "design" in many ways. Those ways might be good, genuine enhancements or total mistakes that halt evolution.

If we are designed, then you might ask why are we designed to evolve, as our main function.
I strive for clarity, but aim for confusion.

Offline rickymooston

Re: The problem with design, can we know what it is?
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2011, 07:15:55 PM »
If we designed something, it would most likely be a static thing, which could not change, since we would perceive the design to be a finished product.

Would you consider the operating system software that runs the iPhone "designed"? It doesn't meet your criteria. Does it?

If you look at a typical car, that car's design, involves a lot of copying of previous car designs. In many cases, fudge factors are involved and plenty of design stupidities. Would you claim the Pinto is designed? How about the language COBOL?

What was the last horrible piece of crap you had to deal with?

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Intelligence like ours perceives design as a logical thing which makes sense.

Is spaghetti code designed?  :police:

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Computer genetic algorithms that simulate evolving entities produce solutions that work very quickly, but are unfathomable. They just work.

Well, before being snide, I would think, that we probably could have some understanding why a given genetic algorithm converges at a certain rate. In either case, whether its tinkered with by "trial and error" or speficied wih the criterion fully understood, its still designed. Obviously, the selection function is related to the problem one wants solved. I'm not always sure how one best decides on the mutation function; I haven't coded one in a while.

You also just know, how easy it is to mention how complicated a typical computer system becomes don't you?  :o I'm being repetitive of course.

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We could theoretically improve on our current "design" in many ways. Those ways might be good, genuine enhancements or total mistakes that halt evolution.

Well, we designed crossbows but eventually the crossbow went effectively extinct because the gun was better. Admittedly, we can reuse aspects of the crossbow in the gun, even after the crossbow has gone extinct  <--- A weakness in my positon but evolution has viral DNA introduced to organisms as well?

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If we are designed, then you might ask why are we designed to evolve, as our main function.

Is our main function to evolve or to reproduce?

Clearly, sexual reproduction does allow some aspects that help increase genetic diverisity. In essence, that design allows better traits to have a chance to be propagated.
"i had learn to focus i what i could do rather what i couldn't do", Rick Hansen when asked about getting a disabling spinal cord injury at 15. He continues to raise money for spinal cord research and inspire peoople to "make a difference". He doesnt preach any religion.

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Re: The problem with design, can we know what it is?
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2011, 10:29:49 PM »

Is our main function to evolve or to reproduce?


We have a history of evolving which probably cannot stop. If you invent a bio-device that reproduces, but cannot change, it will most likely bump into a problem that it cannot fix. Therefore, evolution is more important in the design of something which is designed to reproduce than reproduction itself, for without change, reproduction will stop. It's important in our code, to have the flexibility to change in non-fatal ways, so having very mutable coding, where dimensions can change and membranes and bones will adjust to new a form is very important. Typical computer code is terribly fault intolerant, and cannot be changed without further intelligent meddling. It can never really change outside the scope of the original intent. Whereas, DNA mutations can introduce new proteins which can have novel functions and be tolerated within the community, which has to adapt to it, because adaptation is its main function.
 
By history, our DNA is definitely "designed" for fault tolerant change, but why would a god-designer design something that changes by itself, unless to let it evolve? If we are designed, then we are designed far more cleverly than someone who posits the theory of intelligent design.
I strive for clarity, but aim for confusion.

Offline Mr. Blackwell

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Re: The problem with design, can we know what it is?
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2011, 12:04:15 AM »
I sometimes think that things like autism and A.D.D. are symptoms of our ongoing evolution. We have very radically changed our environment in a very short period of time. I think we are evolving to adapt to the constant over stimulation.
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Offline rickymooston

Re: The problem with design, can we know what it is?
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2011, 06:38:13 AM »
We have a history of evolving which probably cannot stop.

That doesn't imply that evolving is its main purpose. Survival and propogation is the purpose.

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If you invent a bio-device that reproduces, but cannot change, it will most likely bump into a problem that it cannot fix. Therefore, evolution is more important in the design of something which is designed to reproduce than reproduction itself, for without change, reproduction will stop.

I agree, in the directive to survive and reproduce, having some adaption mechanism is an advantage.


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It's important in our code, to have the flexibility to change in non-fatal ways, so having very mutable coding, where dimensions can change and membranes and bones will adjust to new a form is very important.

Not sure what you mean? Are you saying our muscles and bones are great design or that bones have evolved to have multiple purposes.

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Typical computer code is terribly fault intolerant, and cannot be changed without further intelligent meddling.

Fault tolerance and being able to modify oneself are different things.

Fault tolerant is a relative thing and sometimes its done through hardware. Humans are quite fault tolerant in a number of ways. Telephone systems and other such mission critical systems employ for example reduncy, just like human beings.

it is impossible to write bug free code because of the complexity and tequirements also change over time. That is why, I keep going back to legacy systems. Most code written today involves modifying code that was being used yesterday for something different.

Learning systems exist which are programs that self modify in certain ways.

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It can never really change outside the scope of the original intent. Whereas, DNA mutations can introduce new proteins which can have novel functions and be tolerated within the community, which has to adapt to it, because adaptation is its main function.
 
By history, our DNA is definitely "designed" for fault tolerant change, but why would a god-designer design something that changes by itself, unless to let it evolve? If we are designed, then we are designed far more cleverly than someone who posits the theory of intelligent design.

I agree with this part of your post without qualification

Have you read survival of the sickest? Cool book.
"i had learn to focus i what i could do rather what i couldn't do", Rick Hansen when asked about getting a disabling spinal cord injury at 15. He continues to raise money for spinal cord research and inspire peoople to "make a difference". He doesnt preach any religion.

Offline rickymooston

Re: The problem with design, can we know what it is?
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2011, 06:54:15 AM »
I sometimes think that things like autism and A.D.D. are symptoms of our ongoing evolution. We have very radically changed our environment in a very short period of time. I think we are evolving to adapt to the constant over stimulation.

To the contrary, the theory of the day is that A.D.D. is a throw back to hunter gatherer times. Its no accident that aboriginal peoples have higher proportions of people with ADHD than other populations. In our society ADHD can be an advantage but it often a disadvantage, especially when our education system is designed for people without it. A person with ADD tends to be extremely disorganized and is easily bored.

I'm ignorant about Autism but I have ADD. I've only begun to understand myself over a period of about 2 years tho.

My current bias:
Advantages:
-- Can be extremely creative
-- Also has an ability to hyperfocus
-- Top down thinkers by design (IMO)  Note: bottom up thinkers have a role in society too.
-- If they get interested and are trained to operate in terms of short term goals, they can be sometimes very effective

Disadvantages:
-- Severe disorganization which can probably be dealt with by smart organization strategie
-- Poor memory
-- Frequently characterized by a lack of life balance
-- Poor sense of time; ask somebody with ADD about the last time they burned something cooking
--
-- Sometimes have trouble getting things done. Start many projects, finish few
-- Often involved in careless mistakes which causes them trouble.
-- Sometimes needs coaching in social observations that others don't.
-- Easily tripped up by things other people find easy. A person may suck at arithmetic and excel at higher mathematics. Our society often disguards those sucking at arithmatic before they get a chance to try higher math. Tedious can really kill them.
...
"i had learn to focus i what i could do rather what i couldn't do", Rick Hansen when asked about getting a disabling spinal cord injury at 15. He continues to raise money for spinal cord research and inspire peoople to "make a difference". He doesnt preach any religion.

Offline Noman Peopled

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Re: The problem with design, can we know what it is?
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2011, 07:16:32 AM »
There is no purpose in darwinian evolution. Both reproduction and adaptation are constitutive of it by definition. The question of which is more important begs the question what it is that's important. If we're talking about the survival of a species, both are indispensable in practice - a species that does not reproduce will be killed by an event that it can't adapt to in time and a species that doesn't adapt will fall prey to environmental changes (including changes in adaptive species that share its ecosphere). If we want to place importance on both adaptation and reproduction in this way, we "just" need to determine which is more likely to occur - taking into account the characteristics of the species in question.
In practice, both adaptation and reproduction have proven very efficient but we do see organisms reproducing without genetic adaptation and both physical and mental adaptation without reproduction - although I am not aware of any organism that is limited to either. Thus the importance of reproduction with variation.
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Offline gonegolfing

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Re: The problem with design, can we know what it is?
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2011, 07:41:29 AM »
AH:
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By history, our DNA is definitely "designed" for fault tolerant change

RM:
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That is why, I keep going back to legacy systems.


Speaking of accidents of history and historical legacy:


"I believe that there is no God. I'm beyond atheism"....Penn Jillette.

Offline Mr. Blackwell

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Re: The problem with design, can we know what it is?
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2011, 08:09:41 AM »
To the contrary, the theory of the day is that A.D.D. is a throw back to hunter gatherer times. Its no accident that aboriginal peoples have higher proportions of people with ADHD than other populations.

I had no idea that there were any published theories to either effect. Can you provide resources for me to peruse?

Quote
I'm ignorant about Autism but I have ADD. I've only begun to understand myself over a period of about 2 years tho.

My current bias:
Advantages:
-- Can be extremely creative
-- Also has an ability to hyperfocus
-- Top down thinkers by design (IMO)  Note: bottom up thinkers have a role in society too.
-- If they get interested and are trained to operate in terms of short term goals, they can be sometimes very effective

Disadvantages:
-- Severe disorganization which can probably be dealt with by smart organization strategie
-- Poor memory
-- Frequently characterized by a lack of life balance
-- Poor sense of time; ask somebody with ADD about the last time they burned something cooking
--
-- Sometimes have trouble getting things done. Start many projects, finish few
-- Often involved in careless mistakes which causes them trouble.
-- Sometimes needs coaching in social observations that others don't.
-- Easily tripped up by things other people find easy. A person may suck at arithmetic and excel at higher mathematics. Our society often disguards those sucking at arithmatic before they get a chance to try higher math. Tedious can really kill them.
...

It's like I'm looking into a mirror  :P...In high school[1] there was a group of students involved in the Academic Decathlon. They needed a C student to round out the team so they asked me to participate. A friend taught me synthetic division for one of the competitions. It made perfect sense and only took me about 5 to 10 minutes to completely understand it. Now, if you ask me to multiply fractions or shoot myself in the foot and I would say fair well to my foot.
 1. From which I failed to graduate
Quote
"People want to get whatever they want to get. Do I care? No, I don't care. People need certain things" - Senator Leland Yee (D) California