Four Expectations From Front-Loading

The hypothesis of front-loading evolution posits that life was designed with evolution in mind. As such, the design objectives would not only take evolution into account, but would use and exploit evolution as a mechanism in reaching those design objectives. This attempt to design the future through the present leads us to expect at least four things from evolution.


1. Evolution would demonstrate deep homology. This is because deep homology allows us to connect design in the past with the present. The ancient designs have long been present as evolution occurred around them.

2. Evolution would exhibit PREPA (the present explains the past). PREPA is a hint of foresight, where unusual or odd features about ancient ancestors make more sense when seen in the context of the present. A potentially fruitful concept for fleshing out PREPA may be Needless Complexity.

3. Evolution would be significantly driven by intrinsic, biotic features. Since the design itself would be biotic, then the more that evolution is likened to a biological process, the more that design can be connected to such evolution. In other words, if evolution was purely a function of random happenstance propagated only because such events happened to elicit greater fitness against the backdrop of haphazard environmental conditions, we would predict that the ability to design the future through the present would be quickly be swamped by noise. But if there is a strong, intrinsic component to evolution, the designs are buffered against such noise.

4. Front-loading would be linked to terraforming. If we propose that the ancient Earth was seeded with a consortium of single-celled organisms designed in such a way that the evolution of metazoan complexity was rendered more likely, something else is implied.

Organisms complex and sophisticated enough to be composed of different tissue types and to depend on the control mechanisms of a nervous and endocrine system could only exist in a supportive context. For example, if you wanted to front-load something like a mouse, then in order for the mouse-like creature to survive, it would need resources such as food, air, water, a place to live, and a place to reproduce. It would need to be part of an ecosystem. After all, if you dropped the most healthiest of mice on the planet of Mars, they would quickly die. This is because the planet Mars cannot support the life-demands of the mouse.

So if we are to front-loaded the existence of mice-like creatures into the genomes of single-celled organisms, we also need to ensure the Earth will be prepared, at some point, to receive the mice. And it is the preparation of a receptive Earth that we can call terraforming.

Let me therefore propose that the originally designed cells contained at least two objectives: 1) To reach a state of metazoan-like complexity and 2) to provide a suitable context for the maintenance and propagation of this metazoan-like complexity. Evolution as a mechanism of terraforming and evolution as front-loading are thus coupled. The ability to terraform can be front-loaded and the success of front-loading complex organisms would thus depend on the success of terraforming.

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2 responses to “Four Expectations From Front-Loading

  1. Thanks for re-posting this, Mike. I’m glad you didn’t lose everything from the old site 🙂

    “The hypothesis of front-loading evolution posits that life was designed with evolution in mind. As such, the design objectives would not only take evolution into account, but would use and exploit evolution as a partner in reaching those design objectives.”

    I like the above summary of FLE, but if I may, I’d like to offer one amendment:

    “The hypothesis of front-loading evolution posits that life was designed with evolution in mind. As such, the design objectives would not only take evolution into account, but would use and exploit evolution as a mechanism in reaching those design objectives.”

    In engineering, mechanisms do not “partner” with me to reach a design objective. They just are what they are. If the analogy between biology and engineering is correct, then I would imagine that the evolutionary mechanisms “are what they are” and the front-loading engineer was aware of them and their capabilities. Would this be accurate from a biological point-of-view?

  2. Good point. I made the change.

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