Raspberry Pi and the aesthetics of evolution

I was on BBC Radio 3’s Night Waves last night, talking about the new budget computer, Raspberry Pi. It’s being billed not only as inspiring a future generation of computer programmers but also as a way for us all to become ‘programmers not programmed’. I doubt that (about 30 minutes into the programme.)

Incidentally, there was also an interview with philosopher David Rothenberg. He was arguing that aesthetics is an additional principle of evolution, alongside fitness and sex, required to understand why whales sing or why bower birds must have blue nests, to the extent that they will kill to secure a blue feather. Hardly adaptive.

This struck me as rather like Simon Conway Morris’ argument that mental niches might be explored by evolutionary processes, as much as physical ones.

Rothenberg also told of being round at Thomas Nagel’s flat just recently. Nagel, Rothenberg said, knows that he is wrong in his famous essay What Is It Like To Be A Bat ?. That’s a bit like saying you know Aristotle knew that he was wrong about final causation.

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