Category Archives: Biology

The tale of the Parasitic Wasp

“I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.”

Charles Darwin

I’m mainly an evolutionist. I have always felt astonished about how Darwin was able to synthesise nature’s complexity into a pattern of laws which were able to predict natures behaviour. Explaining, not only why all species where shaped by evolution, but more importantly why they had to evolve.

In order to fight the aggressive environment, billions of years of evolution, statistically made chemical components to associate into little cells and latter made those little cells interact and associate into more complex agents, which were more adapted in terms of fighting this environment and surviving. Those cells developed and specialised in order to execute tasks more easily and faster. At a large scale seems that perceiving and understanding the environment is vital for survival. Even more, looks like evolution had chosen to embrace abilities that could help to understand better the environment and cope with it. Seems that modelling the world, a perception of the world, is a common task of  the brain. Working as a filter of information so that it maximises energy, time…in order to efficiently survive.

I believe that the main propose of an autonomous agent is to “survive” against the environment. This has always been a great problem for autonomous robotics researchers. The environment is always changing, we are not able to predict all of the possible paths or possible problems, so we can not anticipate them. Even if this would be possible it would be to complex to try to analyse all of the information gathered.

Now, if evolution’s goal is survival of species and perception, world modelling and specialising of functionalities the tools which it uses to try to fight and cope the environment. I believe we should try to understand how this tools are implemented in order to develop better autonomous agents which can cope with this changeable environment.

Parasitic wasps grow inside of caterpillars in order to feed themselves, for some reason they have evolved this way in order to survive as an specie. This is only one little example of how “intelligent” evolution can be, although its result may seem strange and a little disgusting for a lot of us, for the parasitic wasp is really a great way of fighting the environment.

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