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Hi there everyone,


I'm Koen Van Loon from Belgium and there is something that has been laying on my mind for quite some time now, but I'm not smart enough/don't have the proper education to solve it myself, so I thought you guys might be able to help. 


I was thinking about evolution and came up with an experiment which I would like to know the answer to.

Lets say we have a highly sophisticated robot, either biological or mechanical (like those things from Boston dynamics). If we would randomly change this robot, the chance that it would become worse is naturally higher than the chance that the robot would be improved by this chance.

This is the experiment:

We have a robot which need to follow a 'survival' parkour. It needs to jump over things, climb ladders, dodge object etc. When it survives this parkour, at the end there is a machine which it need to step into. The machine scans all its properties, destroys the robot, and create 5 new ones. The new robots (or children) each differ a little bit from the 'parent' robot. The change is random.

These new robots will now also  follow this parkour, and if they survive the same will happen to them.

The original robot starts with a 'skill level' of 10 point.  A robot is able to survive the parkour if its skill level is above 0 points (1 is the minimum). Otherwise it wont survive and won't be able to make 'children'.

The children differ randomly from there parent. There is a 99% chance that the random chance decreases the skill level with 1 point and a 1% chance that it will increase with 1 point.


Question: What is the chance that these robots still exist over 100 000 generations?

Thanks in advance.



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"Worse" and "better" are subjective and depends on the circumstances.

The other factor to keep in mind is that evolution acts on populations, not individuals or single family lines.

So for example, If you have a population of animals, there is going to be a variation in genetic characteristics within that population.  These variations will tend to cluster around an "average" or "norm".

If we examine a trait like length or thickness of fur, you will find that it varies around a median. Individuals can have longer than normal or shorter than normal fur. As long as this variation isn't too great everything is hunky dory.  Now occasionally an offspring will be born that has fur that is a bit too short or too long for the present climate.  They won't do as well and will be less likely to survive to produce offspring.

This will end up being a pretty stable scenario as long as environmental conditions remain constant.

But, if the climate begins to change, the "ideal" fur length also changes.  If the temp goes up on average, offspring which, up until then, would have been born with too short of fur, will  fare much better, and those that had been born with long fur but still within an acceptable range will find themselves faring much worse.   The change in conditions will lead to slightly

The climate change will drive the population towards shorter fur.

"Survival of the fittest" means  a higher chance of survival( and thus produce offspring) for those that have characteristics that are the best "fit" for the present circumstances.  If  circumstances change,  then the characteristics that "fit" best also change.


With your robot example, for it to be more in line with evolution you have to start with a large number of robots at the beginning.  Thus while the odds of any individual robot at the start having surviving descendants after 100,000 generations might be low,  if you start with a large enough population of robots to begin with, enough of those lines will still be around after 100,000 generations to maintain a robust population.

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