Thursday, April 07, 2005


Good design resembles nature?

Imaginis fancy guess speculates that
Now that we have enough computer power, we can imitate nature's method as well as its results. Genetic algorithms may let us create things too complex to design in the ordinary sense.
I don't disagree, but I also believe that we need GAs that scale well, competent GAs (see here, here, and here).

The posts discussion of design from nature leads us back to a post on Ingo Rechenberg here.

Another issue is that imitating nature shouldn't be blind. Using the same solution as the nature is neglecting the fact that the environments of two systems (artificial and natural) are different, e.g. making a bird-like wind for an airoplane is not wise as there are different dynamics they are obeying and ... (fortunately, we are not doing so).
Yet another point: Suppose that we agree that we must change the design of the nature to become suitable for our artifact. Should we change our nature-inspired algorithms in order to make them suitable for our purposes? e.g. It might be the case that Lamarckian evolution be a more suitable approach than Baldwinian regardless of the fact that nature does not use a Lamarckian approach to transfer life-time knowledge.
Amir, you're definitely right. Nature is a great source of inspiration but we should not blindly stick with what we see in nature, because it may be far from the best way of solving our problems, at least in some areas (actually, I think, in most of them).

I think that's what Dave Goldberg wanted to point out by saying that he also believes that we need competent GAs (as opposed to GAs that only blindly mimic what we see in nature).

Recent progress in genetic algorithms shows that it's best to stay somewhere "in the middle". A good example would be linkage learning in GAs.
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