Evolution (systems theory)

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Evolution (from the Latin evolvere = unwind, develop; PPP evolutum ) is a process in systems theory in which copies are made by reproduction or replication of a system , which differ from each other and from their original system through variation and in which only a part of them Copies are permitted for another copying process on the basis of selection .

Evolution in general

Prerequisites for evolution

Evolution is tied to three necessary conditions:

  1. The presence of replicators ,
  2. a fluctuating copy accuracy, called variation , as well
  3. a different probability of each variant getting into the sample as an element from which the following population is composed: selection .

These presuppositions are sufficiently trivial that one can logically deduce that they are given in many places and opportunities in the universe. However, opinions differ widely as to whether life must develop from it . In evolutionary biology , on the other hand, there is broad agreement that biological evolution does not necessarily lead to the development of conscious intelligence , because this is only a special case that is linked to other, presumably very rarely given conditions. The only case that is known for certain that this occurred there is on our earth. But here, too, the conditions for the evolution of intelligence were only met after at least 530 million years, although the progressive evolution of multicellular organisms had already provided a number of necessary conditions for the development of intelligence .

The variation in replicator frequencies in a population

Evolution is now generally referred to as the statistical process in which the composition of a replicator population P2 is determined from a sample of a previously existing, other replicator population P1. If a sample of different replicators is drawn from P1 and the composition of P2 is determined from it, then evolution is present. If this process is repeated, later populations - such as P5 or P100 - each have fluctuating compositions. Evolution can also be referred to as cumulative sampling error .

An evolutionary population is a set of replicators . The latter are any kind of objects from which copies are made.

Evolution as a statistical process is a fact that can be logically and empirically proven at any time and cannot be disputed in science . Evolution never takes place on objects, but always on the frequencies of objects. In principle, it can run on all quantities that do not even have to obey the known physical laws.

Course of evolution on earth

Scheme of the stages of development of the cosmos, living beings and humanity

Evolution in the sense defined here takes place on earth in the realm of living beings. The term “evolution” is sometimes defined differently outside of biology, for processes that proceed according to laws other than “replication -> variation -> selection”. This applies, for example, to the formation and development of galaxies, stars and planets including the earth; in the social sciences, among other things, the socio-cultural development of humans and in systems theory, the development of computer programs. The commonality of all processes is based on a historical development and often a development towards greater complexity. From a biological point of view, this synonymous use of the term can easily lead to misunderstandings and is therefore unfortunate.

Subareas of evolution

Evolution of inanimate matter

This topic deals with the origin and development of the universe, its particles and elements. The following articles deal with the topic:

Evolution of living things

The evolution of living beings is their development over large periods of time within the history of the earth.


Evolution of the psyche

Under certain conditions, evolution leads to organisms that are conscious . This development process is the subject of evolutionary psychology .

Evolution of mind

In the philosophy of living systems, one regards scientific development as a continuation of biological evolution and speaks of an evolution of the mind:

Living beings are carriers of genetically stored information. In evolution, more and more precise information accumulates in living beings. Humans are the only living being able to store their intellectual information stored in the brain outside of the body, for example in books or on floppy disks. This information, including the scientific ideas (viewed as “spiritual genes”), could be “inherited” by all humans and posterity. The means of evolution, namely multiplication with variants and their selection, continued as the formation of scientific hypotheses and their testing in experiments.

Evolution of memes

On the basis of numerous empirical evidence, it is now unanimously believed that evolution on our planet does not always have to have taken place on the same replicators. The world of living beings as we know it today was based largely on a chemical replicator, DNA , but it is not the only replicator. Crystal structures that can also make copies of themselves have proven to be further replicators. Information-carrying units that are not bound to a chemical but to a (bio) informatic basis are also understood as replicators and were called memes by Richard Dawkins in 1976 .

Evolutionary Economics

In the form of evolutionary economics , thoughts of biological evolution have also found their way into economics. The background to this is that through free markets, a selection takes place among competing products or production processes, in which more desirable products and more efficient processes prevail against less desirable and less efficient ones. Constant product innovations lead to constant further development, which - as in biological evolution - is the subject of investigation. While in biology the variations or mutations are only modeled as random, they are also the subject of investigation in evolutionary economics.


Chain letters

Copying : A chain letter that is sent in the conventional way as a letter by post must first be duplicated. In the past this was done with carbon paper , later with the help of a photocopier . Both methods do not yet produce variants, but identical copies, but sooner or later the result is that letters are created that are illegible in some places.
Vary : Such letters are copied again. The reconstruction of the illegible parts often leads to the insertion of words that were not contained in the original letter. Some people who forward chain letters also deliberately change the content, for example in the amount of profit if the chain letter is forwarded or in the type of sanctions if it is not forwarded.
Select : A selection is made by the recipient. He decides whether to copy the letter, the number of pieces to be copied or not to send it, thereby breaking the chain for the corresponding version of the chain letter.

The inaccuracy of copying does not apply to chain letters that are distributed as e-mail. For this type of chain letter, there is still no research into whether recipients consciously change the text in order to enable their version to be more widely distributed.

Self-replicating artificial organic molecules

Complex of a replicator molecule (below) and the two building blocks (above) that are linked to form a complete molecule. The intermolecular bonds are hydrogen bonds (light blue) and van der Waals interactions (gray). - A = adenine , R = ribose , N = naphthalene , I = imide building block. (A derivative of a 2,3-di-O-isopropylidene-β-D-ribofuranoside was used as the ribose building block; the imide building block was based on the (1α, 3α, 5α) -1,3,5-trimethyl-1 , 3,5-cyclohexane tricarboxylic acid.)
Copying : Self-complementary molecules are required to enable the synthesis of identical or similar molecules in an autocatalytic manner. Thereby forming a template molecule ( " replicator ") and blocks a complex that is stable enough to allow the linking of blocks to a new Replikatormolekül which dissolves the template molecule and again itself can serve as a template for the formation of another molecule. The example molecule given in the figure is capable of replication, but not capable of evolution, as it only catalyzes exact copies of itself.
Varying : If a replicator molecule catalyzes not only exact copies of itself, but also variants that themselves serve as templates, different types of replicator molecules can arise in a corresponding experimental approach.
Select : Under suitable conditions, replicator molecules are formed which differ in their replication speeds and are differently “successful” in competition for building block molecules. For example, if a reaction vessel contains the building blocks DIX (a diamino triazine - xanthene ), AR (adenine-ribose), T ( thymine ) and BI ( biphenylamide ), after some time replicator molecules will be found in a concentration corresponding to their replication speed: DIXBI (not capable of replication), DIXT, ARBI and ART (highest replication speed).

See also


  1. ^ Charles H. Bennett et al .: The evolution of chain letters . In: Spectrum of Science . January 2004, p. 78 ff.
  2. Julius Rebek jr .: Artificial molecules that multiply . In: Spectrum of Science . September 1994, p. 67 ff.


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Web links

Wiktionary: Evolution  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations