People reading this are probably familiar with the demonstration of evolution in clocks
. The other night I was listening to some keyboard music (the piece from the end credits of Rah Xephon
), and became fascinated with the way keyboards have evolved. I have also finished reading Permutation City
by Greg Egan. I say that because it's "Autoverse" may have been responsible for these thoughts as well.
Apologies to any musical historians for any mistakes in the following, I'm making it up as I go along. The keyboard began as a lyre. The lyre evolved into the harp, until it had too many strings for one person to reach and pluck, so someone laid it on it's side and mechanized the plucking, creating a harpsichord. This then evolved into the piano. Various attempts at generating other types of music from the controlling mechanism of a keyboard followed, organs of various sorts. Then, just like clocks, keyboards suddenly translated into the electronic world. They still had keyboards, but internally they employed electronics to generate sound. Next they moved from electronic to digital.
I'm wondering, can other pieces of human technology be modelled like the clock? And more importantly, can we design such an evolutionary simulator in such a way that once it reaches the current phase, it can continue evolving, with the simulation giving as an idea of how we should
evolve our tools? In other words, can such an evolutionary simulator actually be used to generate innovation?
As mentioned I finished Permutation City
. It felt a bit light after reading Diaspora
, a bit like three or four separate stories that happened to occur in related space-time, and I think I may have missed part of it. Or maybe it was edited badly. But it does have one benefit over Diaspora
, it does actually have a plot (or three), and it has characters that make more sense. I think part of the problem I had with Diaspora
was that the protagonists were, as described, too far from human for their acting human to make sense, it was a somewhat forced attempt to allow the reader to care for non-human entities by making them seem human. In Permutation City
all the characters are humans or models of humans, with one or two beginning to become something more, so it works better for me.
Looking forward to beach houses and role-playing this weekend!
And finally, this post from Midori
made me smile, and even, truth be told, get a bit misty-eyed, so I pass it on.