[Humanist] 24.593 imagery of computing biologically analogized

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Dec 16 08:24:33 CET 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 593.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Wed, 15 Dec 2010 10:30:57 -0000
        From: "Stephen Woodruff" <Stephen.Woodruff at glasgow.ac.uk>
        Subject: RE:  imagery of computing?
        In-Reply-To: <20101215062153.B8937BDB0B at woodward.joyent.us>

The abstract of "Orchid Sexual Deceit Provokes Ejaculation", Gaskett et al in the American Naturalist June 2008 says it all: 

"Sexually deceptive orchids lure pollinators by mimicking female insects. Male insects fooled into gripping or copulating with orchids unwittingly transfer the pollinia. The effect of deception on pollinators has been considered negligible, but we show that pollinators may suffer considerable costs. Insects pollinating Australian tongue orchids (Cryptostylis species) frequently ejaculate and waste copious sperm. The costs of sperm wastage could select for pollinator avoidance of orchids, thereby driving and maintaining sexual deception via antagonistic coevolution or an arms race between pollinator learning and escalating orchid mimicry. However, we also show that orchid species provoking such extreme pollinator behavior have the highest pollination success. How can deception persist, given the costs to pollinators? Sexually‐deceptive‐orchid pollinators are almost exclusively solitary and haplodiploid species. Therefore, female insects deprived of matings by orchid deception could still produce male offspring, which may even enhance orchid pollination."

Substitute PC for orchid, the digital humanist for "Sexually‐deceptive‐orchid pollinators"  (who are "are almost exclusively solitary..") and note the female insects (traditional researchers?) continue to get on with the job.
And notice too the arms race between pollinator learning and escalating orchid mimicry. Did YOU buy an iPad?

Stephen Woodruff
Humanities Advanced Technology & Information Institute 
11 University Gardens
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QQ

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