Distinguishing byproducts from non-adaptive effects of algorithmic adaptations

Justin H. Park

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    I evaluate the use of the byproduct concept in psychology, particularly the adaptation-byproduct distinction that is commonly invoked in discussions of psychological phenomena. This distinction can be problematic when investigating algorithmic mechanisms and their effects, because although all byproducts may be functionless concomitants of adaptations, not all incidental effects of algorithmic adaptations are byproducts (although they have sometimes been labeled as such). I call attention to Sperber's (1994) distinction between proper domains and actual domains of algorithmic mechanisms. Extending Sperber's distinction, I propose the terms adaptive effects and non-adaptive effects, which more accurately capture the phenomena of interest to psychologists and prevent fruitless adaptation-versus-byproduct debates.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)47 - 51
    Number of pages5
    JournalEvolutionary Psychology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1-Jan-2007

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