Stephen Wolfram Q&A

Submit a question

Some collected questions and answers by Stephen Wolfram

Questions may be edited for brevity; see links for full questions.

May 9, 2003

From: Interview by John Russell, Bio-ITWorld

You’ve said the conventional idea of natural selection is wrong. What do you mean?

People have tended to think there can’t be a predictive theory of biology because they say, “Well it’s all governed by natural selection and adaptation. You know, the way we are today is due to some accident that happened to some trilobite 200 million years ago”.

But I don’t think that. I think actually there’s good evidence that in many kinds of traits, what one is seeing is all of the possible random choices that could be made. So for example, in the case of mollusc shell patterns, what one is seeing is all possible cellular automata rules being played out in each of these species. So that means that one can start to have a predictive theory of biology because one says, given what we know is out there in the computational world, that maps into what we’ll then see in biology.

Contact | © Stephen Wolfram, LLC