Several factors not explored here that can be significant factors in understanding both evolution and economics.
1 Experience and models.
It now seems clear beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that what we as conscious individuals experience as reality is not reality directly, but a model of reality created by the neural networks of our subconscious brains. The instances of the distinctions available to populate that model change with experience. It seems possible that there is no limit to the recursive power of abstraction to extend the dimensions of such models.
It also seems beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that reality is so complex, that all such models must be based upon levels of heuristics (simplifying assumptions that have proved practically useful in the past, but may not necessarily be valid in the current context).
2 Complexity traps evolution has had to avoid.
In evolving complex computational entities like ourselves, evolution has had to find heuristics that prevent entities being caught by the “Halting Problem”.
The Halting problem happens when an entity attempts to computationally solve a problem that either takes a very long time, or is not solvable. And there exist many classes of problem that appear to be solvable, but are not solvable by any real system in any reasonable time.
One approach is to adopt heuristics.
Another approach is to put in hardware time-outs.
Each comes with costs.
3 Complex systems more generally
In coming up with heuristics that allow complex organisms like ourselves to make useful decisions in reasonable timeframes, evolution seems to have used many heuristics that work in common situations. At one level this gives us the notion of “common sense”.
At another level completely it gives us the notion of causality – that seems to work most of the time at the level of normal human perception.
At yet another level, it has given us brains that look for causal explanations in correlations even if they really don’t exist.
Certainly there are many simple systems in reality that are very close approximations to causal systems.
There are also many complicated and complex systems where the influence of stochastic processes make prediction less and less certain, all the way to chaotic system that defy any attempts at prediction.
4 Economic systems are all based in scarcity
When most things were genuinely scarce, it made sense to view production and trade as important factors in generating things of value.
The problem is that the value measures of such a system are trade values, and are all based in scarcity.
Anything universally abundant has no trade value (makes no sense).
That doesn’t mean that universal abundance has no value to people.
Air is universally abundant for most of us. It is vitally important. It has no trade value.
Air also demonstrates clearly and practically that human needs do have limits, and even at a zero price point, there is a limit of how much will be used (contrary to assumptions of infinite demand).
We now have the ability to automate the production of a large and exponentially growing set of goods and services, and deliver them universally.
There can be no market value in that.
This is a fundamental issue for our time.
We have the ability to eliminate poverty, and to empower every individual on the planet to self actualise however they responsibly choose (where responsibility requires a reasonable respect for the life and liberty of others, which includes the ecosystems that support us all).
Economics, as a way of thinking, is founded in scarcity, and cannot give a positive value to universal abundance of anything.
When one considers self interest of individuals who live a very long time (thousands of years) the dynamics of the multiple stable states alters significantly, if those individuals can have reasonably low discount rates on exponentially increasing future returns.
5 50 years of studying evolution has taught me that if you can think of a set of strategies that might work, then for all the simple members of the space of possible strategy sets, you will probably find examples in biology.
Evolution is like that.
It is something of a random walk through strategy spaces in multiple dimensions.
So we see both gradual and punctuated evolution, and everything in between, often recursively applied.
We have an opportunity here.
A possibility of survival and freedom and security.
And it involves leaving old certainties behind, and accepting fundamental uncertainty.