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Is Evolution More Intelligent Than We Thought?

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A representation of human evolution.

Evolution may be more intelligent than we thought, according to a professor at the University of Southampton.


University of Southampton researchers have shown that evolution can learn from previous experience, a breakthrough they say could provide a better explanation of how evolution by natural selection produces such apparently intelligent designs.

The researchers brought together the theory of evolution with learning theories to demonstrate it is possible for evolution to exhibit some of the same intelligent behaviors as learning systems, including neural networks. Formal analogies can be used to transfer specific models and results between the two theories to solve several important evolutionary puzzles, according to the researchers.

"Showing that evolving systems can learn from past experience means that evolution has the potential to anticipate what is needed to adapt to future environments in the same way that learning systems do," says University of Southampton professor Richard Watson.

His team thinks these biological evolutionary breakthroughs can be applied to evolutionary computer programs to develop better systems, such as neural networks. "Learning theory enables us to formalize how evolution changes its own processes over evolutionary time," Watson says.

From University of Southampton (United Kingdom)
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