Evolution (was: code review)

Ian Kelly ian.g.kelly at gmail.com
Tue Jul 3 01:13:01 CEST 2012


On Mon, Jul 2, 2012 at 1:35 PM, Rick Johnson
<rantingrickjohnson at gmail.com> wrote:
> I am reminded of a story: A few years back a very nice old woman
> offered to give me her typewriter. She said: "i might need to type a
> letter one day and it would good to have around". It was a nice
> typewriter for 1956, but she had no idea her little "machine" was
> reduced to no less than a paper weight thanks to something called the
> PC. Her machine had been extinct for decades. Effectually, SHE had
> been extinct for decades.

It's called "retirement", not "extinction", and there's nothing at all
wrong with typing out letters; it's just slower.  If we ever have a
nuclear war or even just get hit by a large enough coronal mass
ejection, you might find yourself wishing you had that typewriter
instead of your suddenly useless laptop -- just as the dinosaurs (had
they been sentient) might have found themselves wishing they had not
evolved to be so darn *large* 65 million years ago.

> When i hear people like Chris evangelizing about slavish syntax, i am
> reminded of the nice old lady. Her intentions where virtuous, however
> her logic was flawed. She is still clinging to old technology. Like
> the Luddites she refuses to see the importance technological
> advancements. And by harboring this nostalgia she is actually
> undermining the future evolution of an entire species.

That's not nostalgia; that's lack of necessity.  There is nothing so
"important" about technological advancement that it must be thrust
upon nice old ladies who have set habits and no good reason to change
them.  And I can't see for the life of me how people failing to jump
on the email bandwagon have anything at all to do with evolution.

> Lifespans are limited for a very important evolutionary reason!

If that is true, then when your singularity finally arrives and we all
become immortal, will that not interfere with evolution?

All kidding aside, evolution is a natural process, not a purpose.  The
ultimate point of evolution will occur when the universe is no longer
entropically able to support life in any form, transcended or
otherwise, and we will all finally be extinct.  Then what?  The
universe just carries on without us, and goes through a whole series
of cosmological epochs that will be observed by nobody at all, for far
longer than the entirety of our brief, chaotic existence.  It's often
suggested that the Big Bang is the cause of our existence, but the Big
Bang is much bigger than us.  The Big Bang is like a rock thrown into
a still pond.  First there is a big splash, then there are some
ripples, and after a short time the pond becomes boringly still again.
 We aren't really part of the pond; we're just riding the ripples, and
when they vanish, so do we.

You made the claim once in another thread that individuals are not
important in the grand scheme of things (I disagree; from our limited
societal vantage point, individuals *are* the grand scheme of things).
 I am trying here to demonstrate the point that the universe doesn't
care one whit about evolution either.  Hopefully I succeeded, because
I don't want to get sucked into another huge, completely off-topic
thread, and so I won't be posting on this again.



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