“The unexamined life is not worth living,” this thought-provoking book definitely helped me to examine lives from a new angel I never thought of before. Richard Dawkins believes that evolution should be studied at the level of genes, instead of species. You can get some interesting perspectives when look at lives on the DNA-level.
My top three takeaways/questions lingering in my mind:
1. Genes are immortals. Have you considered the possibility that we are mere survival machines programed by our DNA which have been living for thousands of years?
– “The genes are the immortals, or rather, they are defined as genetic entities that come close to deserving the title. We, the individual survival machines in the world, can expect to live a few more decades. But the genes in the world have an expectation of life that must be measured not in decades but in thousands and millions of years.”
2. Genes are master replicators. They maximize their survival through evolutionarily stable strategies (ESS): “Since the rest of the population consists of individuals, each one trying to maximize his own success, the only strategy that persists will be one which, once evolved, cannot be bettered by any deviant individual. Following a major environmental change there may be a brief period of evolutionary instability, perhaps even oscillation in the population. But once an ESS is achieved it will stay: selection will penalize deviation from it.”
3. Genes are good statisticians & strategists. Using game theory and the famous “Prisoner’s Dilemma,” the author (quoting another study) illustrated the many situations, lives are non-zero sum games, and the best strategy to “win” is to be nice, forgiving, and not envious.
– “Tit for Tat, as we have seen, is ‘nice’, meaning never the first to defect, and ‘forgiving’, meaning that it has a short memory for past misdeeds… To be non-envious means to be quite happy if the other player wins just as much money as you do, so long as you both thereby win more from the banker.”
Time to act – how this book can help you grow!
Be crazy about building your capacity to learn! Accelerate your learning by simulating the future: reading, talking to mentors, and acquire massive secondary experience (learn from others’ mistakes & successes).
According to Dawkins, the best survival machines are doing it. Why shouldn’t We.Z.Best?
“One way for genes to solve the problem of making predictions in rather unpredictable environments is to build in a capacity for learning… Survival machines that can simulate the future are one jump ahead of survival machines who can only learn on the basis of overt trial and error. The trouble with overt trial is that it takes time and energy. The trouble with overt error is that it is often fatal. Simulation is both safer and faster. The evolution of the capacity to simulate seems to have culminated in subjective consciousness.”
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