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The Leading Edge


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The Leading Edge

The leading edge

While the BCSE is currently focused on fighting creationism, it is more broadly interested in the promotion of science education. Moreover, in time we would like to foster an open academic community where developments in various fields may be shared with the public, our members and between academics from various disciplines, perhaps even promoting cross-disciplinary approaches.

Given the unified nature of the empirical enterprise, promoting such communication makes sense: it has often been the case that what is learned in one field has helped advance others. The study of plate tectonics helped to explain the distribution of various closely related species which similarly provides further support for our conclusions in geology. The study of ecological systems (such as algae) are helping to explain how life itself shapes the environment in which it evolves. The study of self-organisation in non-biological systems informs our understanding of the process of evolution itself.

Discoveries in the origins of the solar system and how it changed over time are leading to an understanding of the conditions under which life arose, how the organics of comets may have provided the raw material (e.g., amino acids) and meteors appear to have fostered the appropriate atmosphere for the origin of life. Alternatively, volcanoes may help to explain the origins of proteins, and hydrothermal events - which even today support rich ecological systems - may have provided an original nursery for cellular life. Virology continues to inform our understanding of mutation, and we are now discovering how integral a role viruses have played in the evolution of life - being a major engine in the evolution of multicellular life, from before the dawn of the eukaryotes to evolution of primates and humanity itself.

Likewise, the study of cells and their modularity provided a paradigm for new approaches to programming languages - including COM and object-oriented Programming. Similarly, the study of the process of evolution has inspired genetic programming, which is showing a great deal of promise in arriving at advanced solutions in engineering, but which is also informing our understanding of the process of evolution in the realm of biology, including how variable environments promote the development of modularity and how recombination under selection leads to the discovery of optimal solutions more quickly than mutation under selection. Moreover, the field of artificial neural networks waw inspired by the discovery of naturally occurring networks in the brain is already shedding light on how the brain processes information and gives rise to our ability to experience of the world, and in time may even help to illuminate how the brain evolved.

With this in mind, I would like to introduce one of our members, John Taylor, a leading expert in neural networks, the author of several books on the subject, and one of the editors of the leading academic journal devoted to the field. His work is currently being applied in understanding the mechanisms of perception, in the field of robotics, and may lead to an understanding of the evolution of consciousness and perhaps even the nature of the human mind.

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