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John Smart, President, ASF, Mountain View, CA, United States

Evo Devo Universe? A Framework for Speculations on Cosmic Culture (Evo Devo Universe 2008)

The underlying paradigm for cosmology is theoretical physics. In this paper we explore ways this framework might be extended with insights from information and computation studies and evolutionary developmental (evo-devo) biology. We also briefly consider implications of such a framework for cosmic culture. In organic systems, adaptive evolutionary development guides the production of intelligent, ordered and complex structures. In such systems we can distinguish evolutionary processes which are stochastic, creative, and ‘divergent,’ and developmental processes which produce statistically predictable, robust, conservative, and ‘convergent’ structures and trajectories.

We will briefly model our universe as an information processing, evolutionary and developmental system, as an ‘info evo devo universe’ (abbreviated ‘evo devo universe’ hereafter). Our framework will try to reconcile the majority of unpredictable, evolutionary features of universal emergence with a special subset of potentially statistically predictable and developmental universal trends, including: 1) accelerating advances in universal complexity, a pattern seen over the last half—but not the first half—of the universe’s history, 2) increasing spatial and temporal locality of universal complexity development, 3) hierarchical emergence of increasingly matter and energy efficient and matter and energy dense ‘substrates’ (platforms) for adaptation and computation, 4) the apparent accelerating emergence, on Earth, of increasingly postbiological (technological) systems of physical transformation and computation. We use the phrase ‘evo devo’ without the hyphen here, to distinguish this speculative philosophy and systems theory from the legitimate science of ‘evo-devo’ biology, from which we seek insights.