Epilogue - HHGT Evolutionary Computation


"Natural selection is a mechanism for generating an exceedingly high degree of improbability."

--- Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher (1890-1962)

This is a GREAT quotation, it sounds like something directly out of a turn of the century Douglas Adams: Natural selection: the original "Infinite Improbability Drive"

--- Craig Reynolds (1993), on reading the previous quote

`The Babel fish,' said The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy quietly, `is small, yellow and leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy received not from his own carrier but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with. It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centers of the brain which has supplied them. The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish. `Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence than anything so mindbogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of thenon-existence of God. `The argument goes something like this: ``I refuse to prove that I exist,'' says God, ``for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.'' ``But,'' says Man, ``The Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.'' ``Oh dear,'' says God, ``I hadn't thought of that,'' and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic. ``Oh, that was easy,'' says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.

--- Douglas Adams (1979)

"Well, people; I really wish this thingie to turn into a paper babel-fish for all those young ape-descended organic life forms on this crazy planet, who don't have any clue about what's going on in this exciting "new" research field, called EVOLUTIONARY COMPUTATION. However, this is just a start, I need your help to increase the usefulness of this guide, especially its readability for natively English speaking folks; whatever it is: I'd like to hear from you...!"

--- The Editor, Jörg Heitkötter (1993)

"Parents of young organic life forms should be warned, that paper babel-fishes can be harmful, if stuck too deep into the ear."

--- Encyclopedia Galactica

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Hitch Hiker's Guide to Evolutionary Computation, Issue 9.1, released 12 April 2001
Copyright © 1993-2001 by J. Heitkötter and D. Beasley, all rights reserved.