Eric Cassell

Eric Cassell has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology (B.S. Biology, George Mason University), a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering (B.E.E., Villanova University), and a Master’s degree (M.A. Science and Religion, Biola University), which included the study of philosophy of science, the history of the relationship between science and religion, and various views of design in cosmology and biology. He has been an engineering consultant for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), with over forty years of experience in various aspects of systems engineering related to aircraft navigation, air traffic control surveillance, and safety systems. He is a technical expert in various aspects of the Global Positioning System. His experience also includes the development of several computer models of engineering systems. This included modeling aspects of human behavior (aircraft pilots and air traffic controllers). He has also authored over 30 published technical papers, as well as numerous other technical reports. He has had a long-term interest in various aspects of animal behavior. His work experience enables him to bring a unique perspective to analyzing aspects of animal behavior that appear to be the result of engineering design.

Archives

Animal Algorithms Webinar Pt. 2: Author Q&A

Today’s ID the Future is Part 2 of a recent live webinar with Eric Cassell fielding questions about his new book, Animal Algorithms: Evolution and the Mysterious Origin of Ingenious Instincts. He and host Casey Luskin explore the engineering wonders of web-spinning spiders and their extraordinary silk, and the challenge of transforming solitary insects into social insects (with their complex and interdependent caste systems) via a blind step-by-step evolutionary process, and the many thousands of genetic changes required. What does Cassell consider the best explanation? He invokes design theorist William Dembski’s work with No Free Lunch theorems to argue that blind processes are a no-go for explaining their origin. From there Luskin opens the webinar up to questions from the Read More ›

Animal Algorithms Webinar: Desert Ants and Honey Bees

Today’s ID the Future brings listeners the first half of a recent live webinar featuring author Eric Cassell fielding questions about his intelligent design book, Animal Algorithms: Evolution and the Mysterious Origin of Ingenious Instincts. Center for Science and Culture associate director Casey Luskin hosts. They begin the webinar discussing Cassell’s unique set of qualifications for writing the book, and then they move into a conversation about the amazing desert ant, a master navigator from birth, able to integrate multiple navigation sensors despite having an incredibly tiny brain. Cassell argues that these innate skills point to algorithms programmed into the ant’s brain and genome, and that such programming is far better explained by intelligent design than by any blind evolutionary Read More ›

The Miracle of Spiderwebs

Spiders are another of nature’s master engineers. About half of known spider species (order Araneae) construct webs made of silk.

Convergent Animal Algorithms Challenge Darwinism

Today’s ID the Future again spotlights the new book Animal Algorithms: Evolution and the Mysterious Origin of Ingenious Instincts. Host and Baylor University computer engineering professor Robert J. Marks talks with Animal Algorithms author Eric Cassell about the sophisticated algorithms that appear to be embedded in the brains of colony insects, granting them impressive instinctive abilities. Could these complex programmed behaviors have evolved through a blind Darwinian process? Cassell and Marks discuss the challenges to that idea, beginning with the fact that in our ordinary experience, when random changes are made to a computer algorithm, it inevitably degrades function rather than enhancing it. Digging deeper, they discuss the No Free Lunch theorems of William Macready and David Wolpert, and the problem Read More ›

Amazing Insect Colonies vs. Evolution

On today’s ID the Future, Animal Algorithms author Eric Cassell delves into another fascinating portion of his new book, the programmed social behaviors of colony insects and the challenge these instinctive behaviors pose for modern evolutionary theory. Cassell and host Robert J. Marks discuss the complex caste system of these colonies, the impressive signaling systems they use to communicate, and how technologists study these tiny-brained creatures to learn tricks for developing and improving drone swarm technology. How could a mindless evolutionary process have evolved these sophisticated colonies, where various castes appear essential to the functioning and survival of the colony, and possess their division-of-labor skills instinctively? Some colony members also behave altruistically, a fact that Charles Darwin himself conceded posed Read More ›

Genius in Lilliput

Complex programmed behaviors are evident throughout the animal kingdom, but in these pages the focus will primarily be on less advanced animals.

New Book Spotlights High Tech Animal Navigation

Today’s ID the Future spotlights the new book Animal Algorithms: Evolution and the Mysterious Origin of Ingenious Instincts. The author, Eric Cassell, joins host and Baylor computer engineering professor Robert J. Marks to discuss the groundbreaking book and, in particular, the chapters on some of the animal kingdom’s most stunning navigators—the arctic tern, homing pigeons, the monarch butterfly, and the desert ant, among others. Cassell has degrees in biology and engineering, and he draws on these and his decades of professional expertise in aircraft navigation systems to show that these creatures instinctively employ navigational technologies that humans have only recently mastered. According to Cassell, their skills are driven by sophisticated algorithms embedded in their brains. But what created these algorithms Read More ›