[Humanist] 26.570 coevolution

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Dec 11 07:50:15 CET 2012

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 570.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2012 15:55:15 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: coevolution

I am enormously grateful to those who have responded to my query about 
extension of the biological idea of coevolution to non-biological 
systems. I already knew Bardini's book, Licklider's essay and one or two 
other things but had not encountered most of the other items mentioned. 
A brilliant demonstration of how helpful colleagues on Humanist can be. 
Thank you, all.

I had encountered the idea of epigenesis in Jean-Pierre Changeux's "The 
Epigenetic Variability of Memory", in Nalbantian et al, eds, The Memory 
Process (2011), but now my machine's searching capabilities show me that 
I've already gathered in many related items that I had forgotten about. 
Ah, the variability of memory :-)...

And I hasten to add, to reassure Haines Brown, that I also am "not at 
all comfortable with approaching things by means of a cognitive and 
physical closure that supports explanation simply in terms of causal 
interactions", as he said. I am *deeply* puzzled by how humans and 
machines (or just about any two strands of development) are connected -- 
how it is that such strands, often from very different origins, become 
interrelated. Computing provides a very good example of that original 
separateness, as Michael Mahoney pointed out repeatedly. But it is 
equally wrong, I think, to deny relatedness. And horribly difficult to 
talk about such matters simply -- as Einstein said, I think, as simply 
as possible but not more so.

Willard McCarty, FRAI / Professor of Humanities Computing & Director of
the Doctoral Programme, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
London; Professor, School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics,
University of Western Sydney; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
(www.isr-journal.org); Editor, Humanist
(www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/); www.mccarty.org.uk/

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