Accepted paper:

Macroevolutionary Patterning in Technological Evolution: Bicycle Design from 1800 to 2000

Author:

Mark Lake (UCL)

Paper short abstract:

A recurring pattern in biological evolution is that increases in diversity proceed by early diversification at higher taxonomic levels followed by later diversification at lower taxonomic levels. In this paper we use clade diversity statistics to examine whether the same pattern can be observed in exploration of design space during evolution of the bicycle.

Paper long abstract:

A recurring pattern in biological evolution is that increases in diversity proceed by early diversification at higher taxonomic levels followed by later diversification at lower taxonomic levels. Kauffman (1995, p.205-6) has argued that this pattern results from the increased cost of exploring distant lo-cations in design space as evolution proceeds and that it is the expected outcome of any process of adaptive evolution irrespective of substrate. He cites the development of the bicycle as a non-biological example of breadth-first search followed by depth-first search. In this paper we build on Lyman and O'Brien's (2000, pp.47-53) use of clade diversity statistics to examine the exploration of technological design space. Specifically, we construct an explicit hierarchical taxonomy of bicycle designs in order to investigate changing design diversity across different taxonomic levels.

panel P16
Genes and culture, past and present