This story about evolutionary hardware design was indeed, as the URL indicates, a damn interesting read. The thing that struck me the most was that the design the evolutionary algorithm came up with didn’t work on other chips of the same type, just on the chip on which it evolved. The minute differences between different chips of the same type are negligible if their use is limited to things we currently understand, but if the only constraint is the laws of physics then the solutions that evolve are so complex and out of the ordinary that, were we to understand them, our advanced tools would probably seem like sticks and rocks.
There’s seems to be a first key invention that starts a field of science/engineering, like the discovery of the wheel to mechanics, electricity to electronics, etc. But beyond that, could it all be a matter of making the “things” of your discipline out of lighter, stronger, or other interesting materials?
This idea is just off the cuff, I’d like to hear some comments either way.