Hernández-Orozco S, Kiani NA, Zenil H
R Soc Open Sci 5 (8) 180399 [2018-08-00; online 2018-08-29]
Natural selection explains how life has evolved over millions of years from more primitive forms. The speed at which this happens, however, has sometimes defied formal explanations when based on random (uniformly distributed) mutations. Here, we investigate the application of a simplicity bias based on a natural but algorithmic distribution of mutations (no recombination) in various examples, particularly binary matrices, in order to compare evolutionary convergence rates. Results both on synthetic and on small biological examples indicate an accelerated rate when mutations are not statistically uniform but algorithmically uniform. We show that algorithmic distributions can evolve modularity and genetic memory by preservation of structures when they first occur sometimes leading to an accelerated production of diversity but also to population extinctions, possibly explaining naturally occurring phenomena such as diversity explosions (e.g. the Cambrian) and massive extinctions (e.g. the End Triassic) whose causes are currently a cause for debate. The natural approach introduced here appears to be a better approximation to biological evolution than models based exclusively upon random uniform mutations, and it also approaches a formal version of open-ended evolution based on previous formal results. These results validate some suggestions in the direction that computation may be an equally important driver of evolution. We also show that inducing the method on problems of optimization, such as genetic algorithms, has the potential to accelerate convergence of artificial evolutionary algorithms.