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V. Life's Corporeal Evolution Encodes and Organizes Itself: An EarthWin Genesis Synthesis

A. A Major Emergent Evolutionary Transitions Scale

Warrell, Jonathan and Mark Gerstein. Cyclical and Multilevel Causation in Evolutionary Processes. Biology & Philosophy. 35/Art.50, 2020. Yale University computational biophysicists and geneticists (search MG) post a 36 page careful consideration of how novel machine learning techniques and models seem able to gain deeper insights about into life’s structured developmental advance, better ways to understand and mitigate diseases and a sense of identities.

We develop here a general theoretical framework for analyzing evolutionary processes drawing on recent approaches to causal modeling developed in the machine-learning literature, which have extended Pearls do-calculus to incorporate cyclic causal interactions and multilevel causation. We show how our causal framework helps to clarify conceptual issues in the contexts of complex trait analysis and cancer genetics, including assigning variation in an observed trait to genetic, epigenetic and environmental sources in the presence of epigenetic and environmental feedback processes, and variation in fitness to mutation processes in cancer using a multilevel causal model respectively. Finally, we consider the potential relevance of our framework to biology and evolution, including supervenience, multilevel selection and individuality. (Abstract excerpt)

Watson, Richard, et al. Design for an Individual: Connectionist Approaches to the Evolutionary Transitions in Individuality. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.. March, 2022. This entry to a Major Evolutionary Transitions issue (Nonacs) by RW, University of Southampton, Michael Levin, Tufts University and Christopher Buckley, University of Sussex contributes a quantified affirmation that each subsequent level of life’s emergence does constitute a new personal entity. As the authors (search) have noted, this long oriented course can now define trace a stirring neural cognizance from its basal, minimum origin. As a result, as life and mind evolves and learns, an early connectionism model can gain credible utility. A graphic displays how isolate entities become interactive to an extent that they deepen and form a new, higher relative personal group. The collegial paper achieves a broad, 2020s verification of this nested scale, with all it implies for a personsphere sapience.

From our late year, we might view evolution not how it makes individuals better adapted, but how it creates organisms themselves. All such entities are made of parts that used to be units by themselves. In these “evolutionary transitions in individuality” the component elements (cells) work together to form new organismic entity upon which selection can act. Here we seek to explain by way of adaptive principles in learning systems such as connectionist neural networks. By this model, functional relationships between components integrate information integration and act collectively action, can result via distributed and unsupervised methods. We explore interactive structures necessary for (a) evolutionary individuality (b) organismic individuality and (c) non-linear connectionist networks. (Excerpt)

West, Stuart, et al. Major Evolutionary Transitions in Individuality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 112/10112, 2015. A paper for the 2014 NAS Sackler Colloquium entitled Symbioses Becoming Permanent: The Origins and Evolutionary Trajectories of Organelles about confirmations of life’s communal emergence as due to pervasive symbiotic unions. In accord with Eors Szathmary’s presentation at this meeting (search), this nested, manifest scale could be seen as regnant, liberated persons in relative communities.

The evolution of life on earth has been driven by a small number of major evolutionary transitions. These transitions have been characterized by individuals that could previously replicate independently, cooperating to form a new, more complex life form. For example, archaea and eubacteria formed eukaryotic cells, and cells formed multicellular organisms. However, not all cooperative groups are en route to major transitions. How can we explain why major evolutionary transitions have or haven’t taken place on different branches of the tree of life? We break down major transitions into two steps: the formation of a cooperative group and the transformation of that group into an integrated entity. We show how these steps require cooperation, division of labor, communication, mutual dependence, and negligible within-group conflict. We find that certain ecological conditions and the ways in which groups form have played recurrent roles in driving multiple transitions. In contrast, we find that other factors have played relatively minor roles at many key points, such as within-group kin discrimination and mechanisms to actively repress competition. More generally, by identifying the small number of factors that have driven major transitions, we provide a simpler and more unified description of how life on earth has evolved. (Abstract)

Wilson, David Sloan, et al. Multilevel Selection Theory and Major Evolutionary Transitions. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 17/1, 2008. As this synthesis gains acceptance, human persons can be seen poised for a further integration into various organism-like group assemblies which can take on a modicum of their own cognition and mind, surely an occasion of import for psychologists.

When between-group selection dominates within-group selection, a major evolutionary transition occurs. The social group becomes a higher-level organism and the members of the group acquire an organ-like status. This idea was first proposed to explain the evolution of eukaryotic (nucleated) cells, not by small mutational steps from prokaryotic (bacterial) cells but as highly integrated symbiotic associations of bacteria. The idea was then generalized to include other major transitions, including the first cells, multicellular organisms, social insect colonies, and even the origin of life as groups of cooperating molecular interactions. (7)

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