It’s difficult to write about evolution.

The first problem: What should be common knowledge is still taken as controversial by the (now) minority of those who reject the evidence of evolution. I watched the Evolution, Ecology and Behavior course in 2016, coincidentally the first year that a survey showed that the majority of the American public agreed with the statement: “Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals.”

The second problem: Those who accept the evidence of evolution likely have a fuzzy or incorrect mental picture of how it works. I say this with confidence because it describes my own thinking prior to reading Richard Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker, which not only explains evolution but eliminates other possibilities with statistics and logic. The online Yale course also helped my thinking, but Dawkins is the best. Restatement of the second problem: Dawkins said it better.

The third problem: Fuzzy ideas of evolution have escaped their scientific frame, leading to popular misunderstandings of the concept. Evolution is the result of random mutations that confer an advantage in survival and reproduction. When you hear “evolution” to describe public policy, business strategy, or fashion, you’re probably hearing about ecosystems and behavior, not evolution. The “evolution” of technology, dance, or music is not evolution, but rather the aggregate, population-level result of volitional acts of attention-seeking behavior. Again, Dawkins said it better when he pointed out that Internet memes are the result of human creativity rather than random change.

The fourth problem: Artificial intelligence complicates the third problem. When intelligent designers of AI engines iterate with random variants to see what works best in practice, that’s much closer to the definition of evolution. Except for the intelligent design part, which makes it yet another result of human creativity, albeit one that closely imitates the mechanism of evolution.

The fifth problem: Superintelligent AI complicates the first problem. What if our entire universe is a simulation of a Superintelligent AI? Dawkins argues that parsimony rules out the need for God, given that complexity at the level of our species can be explained through scientific means. But parsimony is passé given a sentient-turned-godlike superintelligence that learns how to spin up new instances of the universe from the perspective of a human consciousness. And if we are to witness the emergence of superintelligence, who’s to say that the emergence hasn’t happened before an infinite number of times?

No matter how logical we profess to be, cosmic ideas of infinity reemerge.

My thinking is getting fuzzy again. It’s time to reread Dawkins.