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1064-5462
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Artificial Life

Winter 1997, Vol. 3, No. 1, Pages 51-61.
(doi: 10.1162/artl.1997.3.1.51)
© 1997 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Artificial Evolution
Article PDF (1.42 MB)
Abstract

Most of us know about specific biotechnologies but may be less aware of the underlying process. This essay analyzes that process and speculates on its meaning. It introduces the term artificial evolution, here defined as the controlled micromanipulation of genetic information from one generation to the next, where the first variational step is engineered and the second selection step is insured by humankind. This is qualitatively different from natural evolution. The characteristics of this artificial mode of evolution are immediacy, as opposed to Darwin's law of gradualism, transclass descent, unlike Darwin's common descent, identity, as opposed to variety, and an artificial rate of mutational change, as opposed to a natural one. It constitutes evolution out of evolution, and redoubles our ethical responsibility for the future.