The Entropy of Adaptation

Aaron Klapheck


Order Measures Adaptability

        The beginning and ending states of evolutionary processes are not that significant when it comes to order. There is not a cosmic genetic differences between us and an amoeba. I think of order in a certain way based on my experience as an engineer. I consider a functional definition of order based on how difficult an object or entity is to create. Like a 747 is of a much higher order than a trash can because it is much more difficult to recreate than a trash can. So when I program an application consisting of an ordered list of items it is simple and straightforward. When I program an application that is of a complex list of items such as nested lists, titles, subheadings, and so on; this complex list is of a higher functional order. However, the complex and simple list are not that difficult to program and are not that different programmatically. But, If I wanted to create a list that had the ability to adapt to user changes, this is extremely difficult and the program for that looks completely different. Allowing the user to change a list into another type of list dynamically requires a level of skill (and functionally order) that far surpases the list itself. In short, the number of ways a creature has to adapt and mutate is what defines its order. Creating an organism that can adapt and mutate to a final state is exponentially more difficult than simply creating the organism at its final state.

Entropy on Order

The entropy of adaptation comes from the idea that organisms mutate and adapt in one direction. This is not something which has been scientifically proven but which many scientists allude to. For example, many scientists say there was a “cat-dog” that existed a long time ago that from which a can and dog evolved. Once “extreme adaptation” has occurred a reversal is not possible. For example a dog could not mutate back into a “cat-dog” and then into a cat. This is not proven (because evolutionary processes are slow) but I have never heard a scientist espouse a dog came first, then a cat-dog, then the dog and cat. This goes back to my belief of order; the cat-dog is of a higher order because it has a larger potential to adapt and mutate, namely into a cat or dog or potentially something else. Going back to my experience as an engineer: the more adaptable you want a program to be, the more lines of code you have to write, and the more ordered and organized you have to lay your code out (if you want to understand it later). I view an adaptation very simplistically as taking a jar and bashing a piece off of it. You can glue it back on but once the changes has been made it cannot be returned to its original state without an intelligent being recreating it. This is what I call the entropy of adaptation. All highly ordered systems which I have studied break down with time, I do not believe biological entities are immune to this phenomenon. If this belief is true, then intelligent design is the only way biological systems could have come into being, because biological systems can only get less orderly over time.

Ultimately though, only time will tell, if after thousands of years organism gain a greater ability to adapt and mutate I will be more than willing to say I was wrong.