Engineered Adaptability

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Logic Mechanisms Direct Creatures’ Innate Adaptability

Randy J. Guliuzza, P.E., M.D.

“It’s only logical” was the statement frequently made by the Vulcan character Spock in the Star Trek series. His logic-based decisions during times of crisis stood in stark contrast to the emotion-driven reactions of the humans around him and made him a pop culture icon. Suddenly, being logical was “cool.”

Logic involves the study and practice of correct reasoning, which usually applies rules to guide people’s thinking as they move from basic beliefs or premises to conclusions. Thus, logic is regularly used to select the right course of action when a decision is needed. Figuring out a logical path in Spock-like fashion and putting it into action can be very rewarding. More challenging yet is finding a way to program something with the logic it needs to identify the best solutions to the difficulties it might encounter.

Logic-Based Selection Mechanisms

When faced with different challenges, machines need the logic-based capability to select appropriate responses from the potential solutions. Engineers and programmers accomplish this by building logic mechanisms that imitate the conscious logical intentions of the designer. The only known originating source of such information is a real mind.

For early programmers, the challenge was how to program a machine so it could manipulate incoming data in a way that mirrored how a human reasons. Programmers need to write a program in a type of language the machine can use. The program is governed by rules, just like all languages. It uses logic-derived conditional statements, including “if,” “then,” “and,” “or,” and “not,” to regulate data in a step-by-step manner that creatively combines these conditional statements and other commands. The program is intended to mimic the way the human mind confers meaning to data to obtain the information it needs to make a decision.

When people think of the simplest logic, they usually think of something like “If condition X, then perform one kind of response, and if condition Y, then do another.” This type of logic is fundamental for the operation of nearly all electronic computing devices. In many machines, it can be implemented by turning a basic switch on and off. For instance, if the switch is “on” then do “A” and if it is “off” do “B.” Could living creatures use this type of programming to self-adjust to changing conditions?

How Logic Mechanisms Fit into Biological Adaptation

Creatures appear to respond to changes in their environments by making suitable self-adjustments generated by their own built-in biological mechanisms. The Institute for Creation Research is developing a theory of design whose main assumption is that engineering principles can be used to explain biological functions. From this, we are building a design-based adaptation model called continuous environmental tracking (CET). When it comes to the biological function of adaptability, ICR’s model hypothesizes that if human engineers can use a tracking system to detect and maintain surveillance of a moving target, then creatures could employ a similar strategy to track and adapt to changing conditions. Human-engineered tracking systems incorporate three well-matched elements: input sensors, programmed logic mechanisms to regulate an internal selection of adaptable responses, and output “actuators” to execute responses…

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image credit: Tom Gainor