Sunday, 13 October 2013

Darwinian physics

Positional inheritance and velocity inheritance offer high fidelity transmission of information when physical objects split - allowing for adaptations to arise in physical systems. Copying with variation and selection in physics is a relatively simple and obvious application of Darwinism.

Darwinian physics is currently mostly an unknown topic in the mainstream. There's some Quantum Darwinism out there - but it is hard for most people to assess the worth of this material. Darwinian models apply well to fairly simple Newtonian systems. These models are more comprehensible and should be easier for most people to understand and accept.

Darwinian physics lacks some of the complications that cause social scientists to get into muddles about memes. For instance, simple physical systems have pretty undirected variation - allowing the standard neo-Darwinian assumption that mutations are random with respect to fitness to be applied - without much loss of modeling realism. The simple physical systems used as examples in Darwinian physics are easier to understand than the complex structures involved in human cultural evolution.

Darwinian physics has been worked on. Bickhard and Campbell's 2003 paper covers the topic - listing crystal growth, convection cells and catalysis as targets of explanation. D. B. Kelley's book on Universal Darwinism also covers it. However, for whatever reason, the subject area has not yet become mainstream knowledge.

Physicists are reasonable people. It seems reasonable to expect that they will regard the project of Darwinizing physics with less hostility than social scientists regard the project of Darwinizing culture.

Another reason to put energy into Darwinian physics is that physics has historically been a "high-status" science. If physicists come to accept that Universal Darwinism applies to basic inorganic physical systems, that will be a big and important feather in the cap of Darwinism.

One of the things I think that physicists will expect to see is the relationship between Universal Darwinism and the maximum entropy principle. Another is the relationship between Darwinism and the anthropic principle.

Social science is still the area of greatest social and political importance for evolutionary theory. It's the area where there's the greatest need for correct, Darwinian science. It's the area where backwards, pre-Darwinian science is doing the most damage. It's an area where religious attempts to distort science get a lot of funding. However, Darwinian physics can contribute to this project indirectly - by helping to apply increased pressure to the social scientists on multiple fronts.

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