Edit: This is old material. It may be out of date.
Most posters here seem to agree1 that:
- Intelligence at least human intelligence is an optimization process.
- Evolution is an optimization process.
- Other optimization processes may exist.
Taking these as a given in this thread, let me ask are markets a optimization process that should be thought of as distinct from evolution and intelligence? My intuitive responses was no. But thinking about it I made me notice I was confused. This lead me to believe that there is probably something interesting for me to learn by thinking a bit more about this.
A argument against this is that companies basically engage in a survival of the fittest contest or that markets are just a organization of the optimizing power of human intelligence. But (please assume the smart version of the previous arguments since I wanted to save space and time by relying on your inference and your zombie argument creation skills) isn't it so that one optimization process might use another optimization process somewhere on the grit level while still not being disputed as a genuinely different optimization process?
Perhaps the condition is that the process must be able to work without the "use" of another process. A human may be predisposed to use his intelligence to help improve his own reproductive fitness but there is nothing preventing evolution in the absence of intelligence.
A idealized free market is that of selfish rational agents competing (with a few extra condition I'm skipping). I'm moderately confident this could work pretty ok in the absence of "general" (if such a thing exists) or perhaps human "intelligence", but I'm not familiar enough with simulations of markets to be certain.
Evolution never worked with agents as exist in the theoretic approximation of real world markets. It seems to me some of the strategies the agents would take up would start to break down the rules that make the market possible.
Do the results markets produce warrant them being included in a new family2 of optimization processes besides evolution and intelligence?
1. I lean towards but don't feel comfortable adding a fourth point of "consensus":
- the space of all optimization processes is probably quite a bit larger than just the two.
2. I think differences in the various kinds of Evolution (Darwinian, Lamarckian, ect.) and Intelligence that seem possible or that we see in the real world might be better thought of as two families of optimization processes rather than two homogeneous blocks.