July 4, 2004 | David F. Coppedge

“Domesticated Computer Viruses” Demonstrate Adaptive Radiation

Lenski and Adami are at it again (see 05/08/2003 headline), attempting to demonstrate Darwinian evolution in the computer with “digital organisms” which they describe as ”domesticated computer viruses”  Their digital organisms are small computer programs with logic functions that can reproduce and respond to mutations.  They reward the ones that evolve with more resources (CPU time and memory).  Last time, the rewards were constant.  “In this study,” by contrast, “we used a configuration in which the reward obtained by a particular organism for performing any logic function declines with consumption of the reward by other organisms.”  Presumably that stimulates what Darwinists term “adaptive radiation,” or rapid speciation when organisms invade a heterogeneous new environment.
    The motivation for this new study was to troubleshoot a Darwinian anomaly: “The explanation for differences in species richness among habitats has been called ’perhaps the greatest unsolved ecological riddle.’”  Assuming that productivity (defined as resource inflow to the system) has the greatest effect on species richness, they ran their simulations to reward productivity and found:

In experiments with evolving digital organisms and populations of fixed size, maximum species richness emerges at intermediate productivity, even in a spatially homogeneous environment, owing to frequency-dependent selection to exploit an influx of mixed resources.  A diverse pool of limiting resources is sufficient to cause adaptive radiation, which is manifest by the origin and maintenance of phenotypically and phylogenetically distinct groups of organisms.

What is a “species” in cyberspace, by the way?  “As our operational definition of species, we use clusters of organisms that all have small phylogenetic distances from one another.  The phylogenetic distance between two organisms is defined as the total number of intermediate organisms (having different genotypes from their parents) along the lines of descent leading to their most recent common ancestor.”


1Chow, Wilkie, Ofria, Richard E. Lenski and Christoph Adami, “Adaptive Radiation from Resource Competition in Digital Organisms,” Science, Vol 305, Issue 5680, 84-86, 2 July 2004, [DOI: 10.1126/science.1096307].

Same fallacies (see 05/08/2003 and 05/24/2004 headlines), same irrelevancies, same verdict: dumb (repeat 5x to the tune of Dragnet).  This is not Darwinian evolution, it is (marginally) intelligent design.  Talk about dysteleology; a Panda’s thumb is more sensible than these arbitrary “adaptations”.  They need to read the Dec 4 issue of Nature (see 12/03/2003 headline) before assuming adaptive radiation is real, otherwise their project was nothing more than a rigged demonstration of a fantasy.
    As with most unsolved riddles, the answer is often obvious, but where you least expect it.  Any guesses?

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Categories: Dumb Ideas

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