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Evolutionary Computation

Fall 1996, Vol. 4, No. 3, Pages 313-329
(doi: 10.1162/evco.1996.4.3.313)
© 1996 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Is There Another New Factor in Evolution?
Article PDF (1008.39 KB)

For 100 years it has been recognized that interactions between learning and evolution, such as the Baldwin effect, can be subtle and often counterintuitive. Recently a new effect has been discussed: It is suggested that evolutionary progress toward one specific goal may be assisted by lifetime learning on a different task that may or may not be “uncorrelated.” The phenomenon is reproduced here in a simple scenario, where the tasks are indeed uncorrelated—‘Another New Factor’ does indeed exist. The effect is then explained as being due to recovery from weight perturbations caused by mutation in a neural network. It is a special case of a recently discovered relearning effect: the spontaneous recovery of perturbed associations by learning uncorrelated tasks.