10500. The Darwinian Algorithm and a Possible Candidate for a ‘Unifying Theme’ of Big History

Author: Baker, David
Almanac: History & Mathematics:Big History Aspects


This article postulates another aspect of the long sought-after ‘unifying theme’ of Big History, in addition to the rise of complexity and energy flows. It looks briefly at the manifestation of the ‘Darwinian algorithm’, that is to say an algorithm of random variation and non-random selection, in many physical processes in the Universe: cosmology, geology, biology, culture, and even the occurrence of universes themselves. This algorithm also seems to gradually open more forms of variation and more selection paths over time, leading to a higher level of free energy rate density, or what we know as ‘complexity’. In fact the complexity of the object under discussion seems to correspond to the available number of selection paths. The article closes with a bit of philosophical reflection on what the Darwinian algorithm and the rise of complexity could possibly mean for humanity and the future of the cosmos.

Keywords: Universal Darwinism, random variation, non-random selection, complexity.