Parallel Experimentation: A Basic Scheme for Dynamic Efficiency
29 Pages Posted: 25 May 2004
Date Written: March 2004
My topic is the process of parallel experimentation which I take to be a process of multiple experiments running concurrently with some form of common goal, with some semi-isolation between the experiments, with benchmarking comparisons made between the experiments, and with the migration of discoveries between experiments wherever possible to ratchet up the performance of the group. The thesis is that parallel experimentation is a fundamental dynamic efficiency scheme to enhance and accelerate variation, innovation, and learning in contexts of genuine uncertainty or known ignorance. Within evolutionary biology, this type of parallel experimentation scheme was developed in Sewall Wright's shifting balance theory of evolution. It addressed the rather neglected topic of how a population on a low fitness peak might eventually be able to go downhill against selective pressures, traverse a valley of low fitness, and then ascend a higher fitness peak. The theme of parallel experimentation is used to recast and pull together dynamic and pluralistic theories in economics, political theory, philosophy of science, and social learning.
Keywords: Evolution, dynamic efficiency, parallel experimentation
JEL Classification: B52, L10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation