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Functions in Biological and Artificial WorldsComparative Philosophical Perspectives$
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Ulrich Krohs and Peter Kroes

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262113212

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262113212.001.0001

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The Open Border: Two Cases of Concept Transfer from Organisms to Artifacts

The Open Border: Two Cases of Concept Transfer from Organisms to Artifacts

(p.227) 13 The Open Border: Two Cases of Concept Transfer from Organisms to Artifacts
Functions in Biological and Artificial Worlds

Wybo Houkes

The MIT Press

This chapter evaluates two different approaches of transferring evolutionary concepts to the explanation of technical artifacts. It argues that the “conflict image” of selected and intended functions is an oversimplification and that the boundary between the biological and technological domains is an open border rather than an iron curtain. It states that evolutionary notions are introduced to solve specific problems in establishing artifact lineages and in design heuristics. This chapter shows that although both the fields of evolutionary archaeology (EA) and evolutionary design (ED) involve the transfer of concepts and models from the domain of organisms to that of artifacts, neither appears to involve transfer between frameworks.

Keywords:   technical artifacts, artifact lineages, design heuristics, evolutionary archaeology, evolutionary design, organisms

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