My two favourites examples of evolution are
- The Heike Crab
- The Internet
The Heike Crab
For those of you who don't already know (I can see you yawning, but I know you really, really want to hear this again) is a crab from Japan with an unusual history.
Old Japanese legend has it that in 1185, after defeat at the battle of Dan-no-ura in the Genpei war, the Emperor Antoku and his Taira warriors, committed suicide by throwing themselves into the sea. From this time, the heike crabs in this area are believed to hold the spirits of the dead warriors and any crab caught that has a carapace which resembles the face of a samurai warrior are thrown back into the sea.
Thus over the last 800+ years, crabs that carry this resemblance are more likely to survive and breed, thus forcing them down an evolutionary path, in this case artificial, not natural selection. The end result, you can see for yourself, is remarkable.
Well actually that should really say something like "business models of companies primarily using the internet as their trading medium", but "the Internet" is a bit snappier when you're having this conversation in a pub.
So many different examples to use, but a good one to quote is the rise of the Internet Search Engine, such as Yahoo, Google, or remember Alta Vista?
There is a lot of talk in Internet circles about the dominance of Google at the moment and how it seems to be expanding into lots of new areas. I've been online since late 1994 and I've watched with interest the changing search landscape and just have one thing to say, well a couple of things really:
- It's tough being number one, everybody is out to get you
- It takes genius to invent, it takes engineering to replicate
- Somebody is always trying to build a better mousetrap
- If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants
So what does that all mean?
Basically what I am trying to say (and if you don't stop yawning, I'll start talking about Schrodinger's Cat again) is that the rapid pace of technological change as illustrated by the Internet in all it's glory, has also accelerated the process of evolution.
This example, the evolution of search engines, I think illustrates all of the above points and I hereby predict that somebody, someday, sooner rather than later, will invent a better search engine than Google and it will become the dominant player. I also predict that this new search engine would not have been possible without the pioneering work of it's predecessors, i.e. "Standing on the shoulders of Giants"
I also predict that it is quite possible it will be ex Google people that do it!
Two other more esoteric references to evolution, I remember reading a book, "Oath of Fealty" about the development of earth's first Arcology and the impact it has on the society surrounding it's location, Los Angeles I believe. I remember a phrase from the book that stuck in my mind, "It's just evolution in action", which in the book referred to the stupidity of some intruders into the arcology that ignored clear signs that they could be killed if they continued to break in. They carry on and guess what? They get killed. I often wondered if this book had an influential effect on the founder of the Darwin Awards.
Finally (honestly), my last reference to Evolution is from one of my favourite Clint Eastwood movies, Heartbreak Ridge. AS tough guy, Gunny Highway, Clint refers often to the US Marine Corps motto: Innovate, adapt, overcome! Now if that isn't an evolutionary call to action I don't know what is.
Phew, this has to be my longest blog post ever. Well it is a bit of a big topic...