Conservation is noble and necessary, and something that the vast majority of us don’t need any persuasion to support. But what if studying and preserving the species around us had even more to teach us? In this article from WIRED, Saket Navlakha campaigns for the processes of evolution as a reason for saving animals from extinction.
The rules and codes of computer science have applications far from unpredictability of the natural world. However, we can learn a lot from evolution’s battle to help animals survive. Like evolution, algorithms seek to solve problems, grow, and protect themselves. Developing strategies to excel is the ultimate goal of evolution, and algorithms must learn these “tricks” in the same way. What’s more, these lessons are mutually beneficial.
Termed “algorithms in nature”, these evolutionary codes have a lot to teach science and engineering about overcoming developmental hurdles. We can see an example of this with fruit flies’ small-scale sensory recognition; organisms perform searches to categorise and identify similarities, just like a computer would.
So we are right to mourn the losses for ecological diversity, life and our own humanity. However, as if we needed another reason, we can add to that list the innate algorithms waiting to be discovered.