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In standard evolutionary theory the idea that a species’ DNA is pulled toward solutions to its needs is discounted. What is considered better reasoning is that the members of a species that best fit the summation of the currently occurring environments survive better and therefore leave more descendants, and those descendants who themselves survive leave even better adapted progeny. That is true enough with natural selection, and with sexual selection too, but with the advent of even rudimentary speech, human females, conversing together, began choosing their mates based on aspirations for the future. I have been calling this theory Evish Selection, and it has the aspect that the positive feedback of many generations of women doing this type of word-based artificial selection has created all of the qualities that humans possess beyond the other mammals.

The TV show Jeopardy! had a computer named Watson dedicated to solving the very difficult style of questions that require a huge amount of human information and the ability to relate that information to subtle questions filled with ambiguity. Watson had access to vast amounts of materials, such as Wikipedia, and a high quality dictionary with synonyms that it was able to access rapidly enough to make comparisons of the clues to the potential answers and then choose its most probable answer, and in three seconds Watson answered the clue “A long winded argument delivered by a frothy pie topping” with ‘What is a “Meringue harangue”?’ This isn’t a search that Google would cope with, before it became famous, but instead it’s a combination of lists of definitions of “A long-winded argument,” compared to a list of “pie-toppings,” that fit into the category “Edible Rhyme Time”. That is three different categories that are searched and compared for potential overlaps, and then converted into an English language question. As with most human language statements this one may never have occurred in the English language. When asked this question my spouse came up with “custard bluster” within a couple of seconds.

The point this post was approaching was that the answer was pulling forth the question out of a near infinite obscurity of possibilities. The phrase “Meringue harangue” probably didn’t exist until the Jeopardy writers created it and then intentionally generated some clues that lead to it.

Is it possible to create ways for unknown unknowns to self-generate attractive clues?