In order to maximally exploit the creative potential of evolution, it is necessary for the human collaborator to give up most of their control over the process. The human only sets up the environment for evolution to operate in, provides it with raw materials, and then watches as evolution expresses its creativity. This means that the human does not provide any guidance to evolution, and thus can not necessarily expect evolution to produce a useful product. But it is under these conditions that evolution has the maximal freedom to express its own creativity.
We do not know yet, if we can ever expect evolution in the digital medium to express a level of creativity comparable to what we have seen in the organic medium. However, it is likely that evolution can only reach its full creative potential, in any medium, when it is free to operate entirely by natural selection, in the context of an ecological community of co-evolving replicators.
Before developing this idea further, I want to discuss some relevant aspects of the history of organic evolution on Earth. The fossil record indicates that evolution shows brief but dramatic bursts of creativity, against a background consisting primarily of variations on and elaboration of themes which originate during the creative bursts. Earth's most creative evolutionary transitions were reviewed recently . Some of the major innovations noted were: origin of chromosomes, origin of eukaryotes, origin of sex, origin of multi-cellular organisms, and origin of social groups.
Of these major transitions, perhaps the most dramatic, and best known, was the rapid origin and diversification of large multi-cellular organisms from microscopic single celled ancestors, in what has come to be known as the Cambrian explosion of diversity. It has understandably been called evolution's ``big bang'', when there was a dramatic inflation of complexity of organisms, and species diversified rapidly into an ecological void .
In trying to bring out the full potential of evolution in the digital medium, we should attempt to create the conditions under which analogous fundamental transitions can occur. Otherwise, we are likely to always be operating at the level of variations on existing themes, without any fundamentally new innovations.