This blog, aimed at both general readers and scholars, is about evolutionary and developmental, or “evo devo” models and perspectives on change. Such models can be applied to the universe as a system, and to any of its replicating internal complex systems, including stars, molecules, organisms, ideas and behaviors, algorithms, and technologies. It is authored by members of the Evo Devo Universe research and discussion community, and occasional guest authors.
We have four main research and education themes, which you can find at the following pages:
If you are a general reader, we hope the articles here will help you better understand all of these complex systems, and better manage biological, social, and technological systems. If you are a scholar, we hope you find ideas, models, and data here that can help you be more effective in your own work.
To all our readers, thank you for your likes, shares, and feedback, whether by public comments on blog posts or private email to the authors. The authors greatly appreciate it, and the more discussion, the better the understanding we all get.
Evo Devo Universe
Evo Devo Universe (EDU) is a free research and discussion community, formed by interdisciplinary scholars, exploring how our understanding of the universe might be augmented by insights from information and computation studies, evolutionary developmental (evo-devo) biology, and hypotheses and models of quasi-evolutionary and quasi-developmental process applied at universal and subsystem scales. If you are a published scholar, you are welcome to apply to join EDU!
Our community includes theoretical and applied physicists, chemists, molecular and general biologists, cognitive and social scientists, economists, computer scientists, technologists, philosophers, information theorists, complexity scholars and systems theorists who are interested in better characterizing the relationship and difference between evolutionary and developmental processes in the universe and its subsystems. Most scholars are affiliated with formal research institutions, but we also permit a minority of independent published scholars to join as well.
Find out more on the affiliations and personal research interests of our members at EDU People.
For interdisciplinary discussion of EDU themes and questions, please join our listserve for publishing scholars, EDU-Talk.
EDU’s Mission (from the EDU Project page):
The underlying paradigm for cosmology is theoretical physics. It has helped us understand much about universal space, time, energy, and matter, but does not presently connect strongly to the emergence of information, computation, life and mind. Fortunately, recent developments in cosmology, theoretical biology, evolutionary developmental biology, and the complexity sciences are providing complementary yet isolated ways to understand our universe within a broader ‘meta-Darwinian’ framework in which contingent and selectionist or “evolutionary” and convergent, hierarchical, and replicative or “developmental” processes appear to generate complexity at multiple scales. The rigor, relevancy, and limits of an “evolutionary developmental” approach to understanding universal complexity remains an open and understudied domain of scientific and philosophical inquiry.
These results and hypotheses deserve to be explored, criticized, and analyzed by an international interdisciplinary research community ‘Evo Devo Universe (EDU)’. Where merited, they may lead to expanded conceptual framework that improves our understanding of both contingent and convergent complexity emergence in the universe.
If validated, such a framework promises to advance our understanding of both perennially chaotic, contingent, creative, experimental, and unpredictable processes (evolutionary processes) and of constraining, convergent, hierarchical, cyclical, heritable, and predictable processes (developmental processes) in the universe as a system, and of evolutionary and developmental process at all scales, including the human scale. If falsified in any part, this endeavor will improve our critical thinking about the generation and regulation of complex systems, and the role and limits of organic analogies in understanding our universe.
A Brief Note On Scope: Such topics as non-naturalistic teleology, intelligent design, supernaturalism, theology, and science and spirituality convergence are outside the scope of our community. Hypotheses of directionality (systemic trajectory), orthogenesis (systemic improvement) and teleology (systemic purpose, implicit to system structure or function) may be discussed, but only with the aim to find quantifiable, testable, and falsifiable models or hypotheses. Challenging topics in informational and computational complexity (intelligence, mind, consciousness, morality, culture) should strive to show relation to known or proposed structure and process in natural systems (physical, chemical, biological, cultural, technological), and to explore empirical/measurable/testable implications of the precepts.
EDU Directors do the main work of maintaining and moderating our research and discussion community, as part-time volunteers, making annual commitments. Current Directors, in alpha order by surname, are:
Georgi Georgiev, physicist working on understanding the mechanisms for the measured exponential growth in complexity through time. Affiliations: Assistant Professor, Assumption College, Worcester, MA USA.
Cadell Last, evolutionary anthropologist studying cosmic evolution, big history, and potential theoretical implications for the future of humanity. Affiliations: Doctoral Student, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium (2016).
Carlos Mariscal, philosopher of science/astrobiologist studying universal biology, the study of generalizations expected to hold true for life everywhere. Affiliations: Postdoctoral researcher in the department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology of Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada.
Claudio L. Flores Martinez, astrobiologist studying cosmic convergent evolution (CCE) and systems engineering in space mission design. Affiliations: Msc. Molecular Biosciences, University of Heidelberg; Student Researcher Centre for Organismal Studies, Heidelberg, Germany.
John M. Smart, systems theorist and futurist studying accelerating change and evolutionary development. Affiliations: Adjunct Professor, University of Houston, Houston, TX USA; President, Acceleration Studies Foundation; CEO, Foresight Company, Los Gatos, CA USA.
Kelly C. Smith, philosopher, ethicist, and evolutionary biologist, studying the evolution of ethics, culture, and rationality. Affiliations: Associate Professor, Philosophy and Biological Sciences, Fellow, Rutland Inst. for Ethics, Clemson U, Clemson, SC USA.
Clément Vidal, philosopher of science and cosmology, focusing on natural, comprehensive and systematic philosophy. Affiliations: Post-Doc, Vrije Universiteit Brussels; Researcher, Centre Leo Apostel, ECCO Group, and Global Brain Institute, Brussels, Belgium.
Would you like to become an EDU Director? Can you offer 5-10 hours a month for EDU community building and research projects that you can suggest to your colleagues? Are you able to work with a minimum of supervision? If so, please contact Clément Vidal and let him know of your interest. We are always happy to have more Directors serving our community.