Happy Darwin Day!

Charles Darwin would no doubt be honored to know that he shares a birthday with me πŸ˜‰ Tomorrow he’d be 200 and I’ll be 51, so that makes me more than a quarter as old as Darwin, which is a very strange thought indeed. It sometimes shocks me in a similar way that Artificial Intelligence is only a little bit older than I am, and I’ve been doing it myself for thirty years, which means I’ve been working in the field for a substantial fraction of the time that it has existed. I figure this makes me now as guilty as anyone for how badly it has turned out so far!

Anyway, happy Darwin Day. How nice that the man managed to have a bicentennial in the same year that Obama became president and we regained some hope that rationality might return to the USA (and its followers, such as the UK, where half my fellow countrymen have now been duped into believing that the evolution of species requires the intervention of a creator).

(By the way, if you’re thinking of commenting on this post with a creationist or ID opinion, don’t even get me started. I’m sick of it. Go get an education. Go look at some actual fossils and trace some stratigraphy. Do some Artificial Life experiments. Take the trouble to find out for yourself from first-hand experience, like I did, instead of listening to sophistry. You’re being lied to).

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About stevegrand
I'm an independent AI and artificial life researcher, interested in oodles and oodles of things but especially the brain. And chocolate. I like chocolate too.

13 Responses to Happy Darwin Day!

  1. Daniel Mewes says:

    Happy birthday Steve!
    (And happy birthday Charles, although I’m not sure whether he reads this blog at all)

    Unfortunately I have to say that Darwin was completely wrong, as everyone can easily see. The Flying Spaghetti Monster has created the world in just four days. Of course it manipulates our experiments to make us *think* that there is this thing called “evolution”.

  2. James Brooks says:

    Happy Birthday,

    Stumbled upon this blog recently. Have to say I loved your books. The fact that evolution is not believed is some places firms my belief that schools change. They should teach critical analysis of newspaper articles, the scientific method and objective thought as a priority. I think the purpose of schooling should primarily be to prepare people to think, not to teach them.

  3. Zach Blankenship says:

    Happy Birthday, Steve.

    I think I can agree with the above, the FSM does manipulate us with his noodley appendages.

  4. stevegrand says:

    Thanks guys!

    You’re wrong about this spaghetti monster, you know. I realize it’s politically incorrect to criticize someone’s beliefs, but it’s all a myth! There IS no spaghetti monster. I have it on Santa Claus’s own authority.

    Hi James! Ah, Bath seems such a long (and cold) way away. I used to have a fellowship there, but now I live in Louisiana.

    “I think the purpose of schooling should primarily be to prepare people to think, not to teach them.”

    I completely agree. Telling them the answers stops them from learning how to ask the questions. The education system here in Louisiana sucks (nothing personal against the perfectly nice teachers, but it does, imho). There’s far too much rote learning and far too little understanding; too much extrinsic motivation (usually in the form of high-calorie candy!) and too little emphasis on discovering the intrinsic joy of finding things out. Is it any coincidence that so many people in Louisiana grow up believing in creationism? (It doesn’t help that the state recently passed a law covertly opening the way to the use of creationist literature in science lessons, but that’s probably an effect rather than the cause).

  5. I can guarantee that with your independent, reasonable thoughts you have chosen only one path… and that leads straight to that big oven down below. But don’t fret, I can set you straight. And after doing so, do some penance, rack yourself with guilt and leave a little donation in the basket on the way out. Thank you.

    Getting older and more cynical,
    Richard πŸ™‚

  6. Nick Lee says:

    Three cheers for Darwin and sanity.

    I agree with Bart Simpson’s classic quote on the subject:
    “There’s no such thing as a soul, it’s something parents made up to scare little kids, like the boogey man or Michael Jackson”

    PS: If you ever get fed up with the fundamentalist religious nuts you could always come back to Blighty.

    Nick Lee

    • stevegrand says:

      Ah, Simpson. One of the great philosophers of our time! Thanks for that quote.

      > PS: If you ever get fed up with the fundamentalist religious nuts you could always come back to Blighty.

      πŸ™‚ From what I can tell, the US might finally be cresting the wave and on the way back down while the UK is still on the way up. Maybe you should come here, Nick! On the other hand, there’s a way to go yet. When I first moved here a couple of sweet women came knocking at the door to welcome me to their church and when I said I didn’t believe in a god they were utterly mystified. They’d never even conceived of such a notion. And they’d never met a scientist either. If I’d told them I came from Mars and ate small children they’d have been less flummoxed.

  7. Rob Lingley says:

    The Desmond & Moore biography of Darwin highlights the creative effect of islands.

    I have been working away for years on a copycat style framework for agent based programming. I trained as a biochemist, and then worked in software. The methodology seemed wrong. Holland, Hofstadter and Mitchell were discussing emergent architectures. Dawkins described the mechanisms. I could write the code. Still it was a lonely island.

    Then I read John Johnston’s ‘The allure of Machinic Life’ and right at the end your work was reviewed.

    Sounds amazing. I have only got as far as having a cell with schematic genes and signaling to deploy energized phenotypic structures, such as receptors and transporters. Slowly moving towards a neuron.

    It’s nothing in comparison with your work, but it struck me that the your island of experience was analogous enough to please Darwin.

    Rob

    • stevegrand says:

      Thanks Rob! Hello from my island to yours!

      “Slowly moving towards a neuron” – I know that feeling! πŸ™‚

      • Rob Lingley says:

        I finally put some of my ‘work’ up on a web site http://robsstrategystudio.org I hope it meets with your approval?

        The neuron is still a long way from completion πŸ™‚

      • stevegrand says:

        Thanks Rob. Up to my eyeballs in work at the moment but I have a note to read through your stuff soon (it’s quite extensive!). Meanwhile I’ll send the link to a friend who’s involved in developing strategy (and who has a boss who doesn’t think in these terms at all!)

      • Rob Lingley says:

        Watching people look at my web site, it seems a little easier to penetrate starting with the CAS systems pages. The idea is that the reader can then consult the cas theory pages when they see a new term. But i’ve never been a UI guy. Tell your friend to leave a comment.

        I recently added a glossary for those people who are not biochemists + programmers + economists + biologists. Someday it will even have some j.s. to float the items when you hover on them. But by then everyone will use a tablet and the j.s. will be pointless πŸ™‚

        Rob

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