The Evolutionary Lens

The CIIC Auckland workshop in September 2018 focused on reinventing civilisation. To frame the discussion we watched a 15 minute recording of a talk from 2014 by Eileen Crist titled Confronting Anthopocentrism.

For humans it is not possible to reason about the Anthropocene entirely without human bias. The best we can do from our human perspective is to consciously use language that broadens our perspective to include all living agents within the biosphere.

The evolutionary lens is a modelling language for collaborative niche construction. It consists of five categories that correspond to core elements of modern evolutionary theory (selection, variation, replication, understanding, and sustaining), which form the basis of S23M’s formal approach to describing design and engineering activities. The evolutionary lens allows organisations and people to participate in the evolution of a living system and to integrate their knowledge into the living system that includes humans, non-humans, and human designed systems.

The correspondence between the elements of evolutionary theory and human design and engineering activities is illustrated in the following diagram:

Four of the five categories of the evolutionary lens map to the four basic work streams found in all organisations that practice product line engineering: