Re: intell. des. and Berra's folly

Loren Haarsma (
Mon, 1 Jun 1998 22:29:03 -0400 (EDT)

EGM wrote:

> In that case Glenn is at least misapplying the example. And in that
> case, would you (or any other) be so kind as to tell us what part or
> parts of the world economy are I.C. and which also evolved without I.
> interventions?

Here's one example of an irreducibly complex sub-system of the modern
economy (and a very important one to the functioning of the whole):
Trucks are assembled out of many different, separately manufactured,
parts. The manufacture and delivery of those parts, in turn, depends
upon the existence of working trucks.

One strategy for self-organization of IC systems is as follows: start
with a large number of initially autonomous "agents" which can interact.
Increasingly complex interactions are encouraged because they allow the
agents to achieve their goals more efficiently. (This could conceivably
be implemented in hardware or in software.) Under the right conditions,
an irreducibly complex system of interactions could evolve.

Glenn's clever insight is not that the modern economy is a perfect
example of this strategy, but rather, that the development of the modern
economy is an extremely good analogy of this strategy. (At least,
that's how I've always understood it.) It is familiar, it is
instructive, and it is suggestive. (In fact, it is such a good analogy
that it's probably more instructive than most *actual* implementations
would be.)

Consider the development of truck manufacturing. No one planned the
modern IC system of parts manufacture, delivery, and assembly. It
"evolved" from a simple beginning via independent agents acting on
available resources over time to maximize the attaining of certain
goals. This is instructive, and suggestive, for how similar complex
organizations could be accomplished by mechanistic "agents." (Of
course, such agents would have to be cleverly designed to make such
self-assembly possible.)

Loren Haarsma