July 20, 2002 | David F. Coppedge

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.

If you enjoyed the comic relief, you need some respite to get your mind back into the mood of awe and wonder at creation.  Watch this trailer about a new film being produced by Illustra Media.

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