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first_imgCalling all interior designers: has Darwinism rendered you superfluous?  J. Scott Turner thinks so.  He wrote a book called The Tinkerer’s Accomplice: How Design Emerges from Life Itself (Harvard, 2007).  It was reviewed by Claus Wedekind in last week’s Nature with the title, “The interior designer.”  This does not imply that interiors need an exterior designer, but that interiors can design themselves.    Wedekind liked the book.  The basic idea is that design emerges without help from the tendency for self-organization and self-preservation.  Homeostasis is the property living things have to regulate themselves amidst a dynamic environment.  Feedback from the environment influences structures such that they self-adapt and co-evolve with the surroundings: these he calls Bernard machines after Claude Bernard, a contemporary of Darwin, “who emphasized the role of homeostasis in physiology.”    Turner postulates that homeostasis is a common feature of life, giving rise to self-organizing and self-regulating machines from the level of cells and tissues to structures larger than an organism – or even a community of organisms.  Collagen fibers, embryonic tissues, antlers and termite mounds are some of the examples described in the book.  Termite mounds “not only capture wind to power ventilation but also regulate its capture.”  This makes a termite mound a self-organized, self-regulating structure, “an organ of homeostasis,” the idea goes.    Homeostasis and natural selection work hand in hand, according to Turner.  He challenges Dobzhansky’s famous dictum that “nothing in biology makes sense apart from evolution,” replacing it with, “no attribute of life, including its evolution, really makes sense unless we view it through a physiological lens.”  Designers need not apply, in other words: physiology is the interior designer.  The agents of homeostasis “lead, largely by themselves, to the marvellous harmony of structure and function we observe in nature.”    How can elaborate structures emerge naturally, though, without intention?  Is intention real, or an illusion?  This is the question Wedekind asks:This leads to the tantalizing question of whether darwinian evolution can dismiss intentionality.  Obviously, creative brains can cope better with an unpredictable world and may have a selective advantage, so creativity and intentionality can evolve and in turn influence evolution.  But does it really need a brain like ours to bring intentionality into play?  Turner views this question through a physiological lens and develops a picture of a modular brain that could be understood as a kind of ‘climax’ ecosystem with competing and coevolving cells, and with homeostasis as the organizing principle of cognition.  He argues that we intentionally design the world when our neural ecosystems generate ideas that then guide our bodies to reshape it.  The point is that the brain may be just one example of what Turner calls ‘persistors’ – persistent environments that are created by systems of Bernard machines and that have a process-based form of heritable memory.  ‘Darwin machines’ – replicators that have to prove themselves under natural selection – shape evolution in the absence of intentionality.  But the author argues that life and evolution happen when Darwin machines act in concert with Bernard machines, which are the agents of homeostasis and can be seen, in their own particular way, as goal-seeking and purposeful.  These are the ‘tinkerer’s accomplices’ of the title.Wedekind seemed tickled with Turner’s witty prose.  He thinks that, despite its intellectual challenges, the book would give a motivational kick to physiology students.  “This important book is for those who search for an understanding of the various forms that life can take and of how life works.”  Such understanding serves another function.  Wedekind confessed a frustration that lured him to Turner’s thesis for relief:Sharing a broadly accepted idea or philosophical concept comes with a danger: after a period of indulgence in mutual affirmation, it is easy to forget how to effectively defend the concept against a smart and captious critic…. evolutionary biologists can struggle to find their best arguments when challenged by a well-prepared enthusiast of ‘intelligent design’.1Claus Wedekind, “The interior designer,” Nature 446, 375 (22 March 2007) | doi:10.1038/446375a.The Darwin Party heads keep sending out their novice debaters as if they think this puts the intelligent design Visigoths on edge.  The Visigoths in the camp outside are wondering, meantime, how such shallow logic could make it into Nature, the DP’s warfare manual.  Any undergrad logic student could show how self-refuting this thesis is.  The argument makes no sense even if one assumes evolution at the outset.  Each example from the living world Turner provides has intelligent design already built into the genetic code, not self-generated out of thin air.  And count the number of times mindless entities are personified in the quote above and the entire “interior designer” concept unravels.  It’s like we have to keep slapping the hands of the bumbling Darwin Party emissaries and reminding them, “You can’t say that.  That word is not in your vocabulary.  You can’t plagiarize our ID manual; we won’t let you get away with it.”  They never learn.  Maybe it’s a strategy; perhaps they believe a million novices can compensate for one philosopher.    So with a smile and a snicker under our breath, we send back a greeting card into the Darwin Castle, wishing the best to the newlyweds, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the Tinkerer’s Accomplice.  Father Charlie and Tinker Bell, surrounded by indulgent guests enjoying mutual affirmation, must be proud parents.  They probably hope Little Miss Tinker Bell Jr. will be able to zap the brooms the Apprentice unleashed and bring back order.  But we know what’s going to happen.  The brooms will douse the wand and carry on, submerging the Castle in a flood of entropy.  This makes our work so easy.  All we will have to do is mop up when the walls fall down.(Visited 30 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more


first_img14 November 2011South African President Jacob Zuma is in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a state visit that will see the signing of multiple trade and economic agreements.Zuma, who is on a two-nation tour of the Gulf region, is visiting the UAE on Monday and Oman from Tuesday to Wednesday with the aim of identifying greater investment opportunities.“We are pleased that institutions such as the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority are committed to investing in South Africa,” Zuma said on his arrival on Sunday. “Our ministers have been directed to work out roadmaps for enhancing trade relations between the two nations during this visit.”Not only is the Gulf the source of more than half of South Africa’s crude oil requirements, but it has become a major market for South African products, a significant source of investment, and home to a sizeable South African expatriate community.Both Oman and the UAE are important markets for the South African defence industry.The potential for greater interaction between the two countries is enhanced through the 56 weekly flights between South Africa and the UAE.24th largest investor in South AfricaTrade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, who is accompanying Zuma on his trip, told the SA-UAE Business Forum in Dubai on Sunday that South Africa had invested R3.33-billion in the United Arab Emirates since 2003, making the country the 19th largest investor in the UAE.The UAE, for its part, was currently the 24th largest investor in South Africa, Davies said.Davies also announced that the South African government, through the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, had proposed a protocol agreement for the direct export of horses from South Africa to UAE.“Due to instances of African Horse Sickness in South Africa, horses have been exported via Europe to UAE. This is a non-tariff trade barrier and also very costly for SA exporters.“Horses have to go via Europe for quarantine, before they are allowed into the UAE, and we hope to turn around the situation once our proposed protocol has been accepted by the UAE authorities.”10 draft agreements being negotiatedThe Middle East is an important economic region as it occupies a unique geo-political position in the tri-continental hub of Europe, Asia and Africa.It is the source of 67 percent of the world’s petroleum reserves and commands two of the most strategically important waterways in the world, namely the Gulf and the Red Sea, giving access to the Asian hinterland via the Gulf of Aqaba.South Africa and the UAE have signed five bilateral agreements, which provide the framework for co-operation.There are 10 draft agreements currently being negotiated in the areas of defence, taxation, industrial development, promotion of investments, legal matters, social development and transport, as well as a joint commission on bilateral issues.In Oman, it is expected that a “Supplementary Protocol amending the Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income” will be signed.BuaNewslast_img read more


first_imgWhy Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Related Posts chris cameron Tags:#e-commerce#web In a press release this morning, MasterCard has announced that desktop and mobile developers will have access to an API from the credit card giant later this year. The company hopes that by opening its technology to developers, new and innovative e-commerce applications that leverage the MasterCard network will be created, potentially competing with the likes of Visa, PayPal and Square.MasterCard Chief Innovation Officer Josh Peirez says the company is “excited about tapping into the ingenuity of software developers around the globe to help create the next generation of game-changing payment applications.” A newly launched portal – MasterCard Labs – will give developers access to APIs, SDKs, guides and forums for discussing and experimenting with the company’s technology. The announcement comes at a time when the mobile-payments market has begun to heat up with competition between startups and large credit card providers. San Francisco-based startup Square has many people excited about its mobile application and dongle that allows credit cards to be scanned by various mobile devices; online payment staple PayPal recently teamed up with Bump Technologies to provide a mobile transaction service as well.Visa also recently announced its own foray into the mobile payments market. Earlier this month, the MasterCard competitor teamed with DeviceFidelity to launch special cases for iPhones which would allow users to take advantage of Visa’s wireless and contact-less payment method, Visa payWave, straight from their phones.But mobile payments is just one of the platforms MasterCard hopes developers will innovate on using its technology. The company says it has identified 20 other areas in which their APIs could be used, including payroll systems, social networking applications, eWallets, and online games. With the growing popularity of sites like Blippy, which allows users to automatically share their credit card purchases with their friends, MasterCard may be providing a valuable API to developers at a ripe moment for these kinds of platforms and services.Many have been skeptical about these new services due to apparent security risks that come from mobile payment systems, but MasterCard is taking precautions to make sure their platform is not abused. According to its press release this morning, “all developers will be approved and registered by MasterCard to ensure that MasterCard payment and data services continue to be used appropriately and productively.”center_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more


first_imgAn immensely confident Virender Sehwag on Tuesday declared that India would be the favourite to win the World Cup early next year, saying the home factor would be a big advantage to the team. If that happens, India will become the first ever home side to clinch the World Cup.Viru feels the Indian cricket team will have more home advantage than others.Since the inception of the World Cup in 1975, in 35 years, no host nation has won the title. But the everpositive Sehwag reasoned that despite what some people might feel about hosting the Indian Premier League (IPL) having “reduced” India’s “home advantage”, the team will still enjoy more benefit than the other teams.”It’s a benefit that we are playing in India since childhood. We know how the wickets behave and what the advantages are at all centres. We will surely get the benefit, but there are some other teams that are regularly visiting India and getting used to the conditions. The task will be difficult, but the Indian team will be the favourite,” the India vice-captain announced.Sehwag did not agree with some people, like South Africa coach Corrie van Zyl, who feels that the hosting of the IPL has diminished India’s home advantage as foreign players now know the conditions well.”We are playing here more often than the foreign players-since our childhood. We play in the under-19 category, firstclass (level) and then for India. We play a lot more series in India, so we are more used to the conditions here,” he said, after unveiling 12 commemorative models of Timex watches, the official product licensee of the World Cup.advertisement”If you see, India have recently played more matches in the subcontinent than the other countries. So, we will have more benefit. Yes, it’s true that foreign players in the IPL have adjusted well to the conditions, but it is difficult to adjust as a team.” The 31-year-old dashing opener stressed that the team would not spare any effort to break the World Cup home jinx.”We will surely try, but we can’t say we will definitely win. What we can do is to make our best effort. Win or loss depends on which team plays well on a particular day. But we will surely make more than 100 percent effort and win the World Cup,” he assured.Sehwag is pleased with his current form in all forms of the game, having helped India draw the three-match Test series in Sri Lanka. He was adjudged the man of the series.In the ODI tri-series, too, he was named the man of the series.”I would love to extend this form to the World Cup. You never know, sometimes you score runs, sometimes you don’t-and sometimes people praise you and sometimes criticise you. But the way I am batting at the moment I am confident,” said the right-hander who was the highest scorer for India in the 2003 World Cup final against Australia.Sehwag will get another chance to test the Australians in the two-Test series beginning in Mohali on October 1.”India’s preparation for the World Cup is starting from the Australia series. I am looking forward to that,” he said.He, however, clarified that he doesn’t play for records, though Sehwag’s coach Amar Nath Sharma feels that if his bestknown ward bats for full 50 overs in an ODI he can break Sachin Tendulkar’s world record of the highest innings, 200 not out.”There are so many players who can break the record if they play full 50 overs. But we are not playing for records; we play to perform and to try and win games. I try to score and win games for the country,” he said.last_img read more

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