This thread began as an off-topic offshoot of Bradford's post, Guided Pathways. Please discuss here instead.
Earlier comments to set the scene:
JJS: I'll keep repeating this until you kiddies get it right: there is NO mechanism for design. Engineers make use of mechanisms in their designs. The design action of an engineer cannot be reduced to a mechanism. IMO, FLE concerns itself with investigating the (potential) manipulation of natural mechanisms to achieve a desired result (design objective).
Raevmo: This kiddie respectfully disagrees. There are computers that design stuff — even "unexpected" designs since the computers use random number generators. Are you saying that there is no mechanism for design in that case?
JJS: Let me address the two cases you presented separately:
1. Computers "designing" stuff: This "design" is based on a program that was developed by software engineers who programmed the parameters of the search of options so that a human engineer can eliminate various options in a workable timeframe. The computer ends up being a tool to examine different design directions. It's really no different than me creating a spreadsheet to go through the myriad of different steel section options in the time span of a few minutes instead of hours.
At the end of the day, it is a human engineer that must check the details of the design to ensure it functions in the real world properly. Thus you have human engineer(s) at both the start and the finish of the design process. The computer merely facilitates the search for options. It does not design.
2. Accidental design: this sounds a lot like "designoids" as expressed by Dawkins and Gene. This is not design, but tinkering or evolutionary noise. In order for tinkering to occur, it needs something to tinker with. In most cases, that something is purposely designed.
Raevmo (in response to #1): I would say it does. The human (or computer) who checks the design merely evaluates it, it doesn't do the designing. In case of front-loading: the environment checks the design.
Raevmo (in response to #2): Again, I disagree. Evolutionary algorithms can design stuff, and they rely on (pseudo) random numbers to generate new designs. Perhaps in your brain there is also a (pseudo) random design generator, and another part of your brain selects the one that meets certain requirements.
Bradford (in response to Raevmo ): Or perhaps in his mind there exists a capacity for analysis which makes assessments independently of brain biochemical determinism and that is further evidence of design.