Mutating Evolution Into Design
51; The word evolve gets used in funny ways. As Paul Nelson has noted, it often becomes a Designer substitute. Look how an article in New Scientist employed it:
Could a 3D printer help to create in minutes what nature took millions of years to evolve – the perfect insect wing?
Tiny robotic insects would make the perfect fly-on-the-wall snooping devices.
Duncan Graham-Rowe gets the SEQOTW award for failing to distinguish between evolution – a blind, unguided, purposeless process – and the intelligent design used by robotics engineers. Later in the article he did it again: “Lipson and Richter plan to use their 3D printing approach to cycle through and analyse the performance of a broad range of different wing designs and plug the information into a computer model, which incorporates a genetic algorithm that can then use the data to evolve the perfect set of wings.”
The rest of the article talked about human designers attempting, with limited success, to reverse-engineer the elegant flapping flight of butterflies. That’s biomimetics – an application of intelligent design.
For more on genetic algorithms and “computer evolution,” see the 07/11/2010 entry.