In my role as SIGACT chair, I got to attend the ACM Awards Banquet held at the beginning of FCRC in San Jose. I shared a table with Mitzenmacher who posted on the banquet earlier. Theory did well among the award winners but none so notably as the Turing Award, the "Nobel Prize of Computer Science", awarded to Leslie Valiant. Valiant, in his acceptance speech, gave a wonderful shout out to the STOC conference for helping him shape his research, or at least the STOC conferences back in the 70's when the theory community were still figuring out the right questions and models. A nice contrast to the ACM Press Release that focused on the connections to AI.
Last night, Valiant gave the Turing Award lecture at FCRC. His main thesis is that evolution is just an example of computational learning and we need to understand the computational process that led to the development of us in a relatively short period of time. I heard a similar talk he gave at Berkeley caused some consternation among the biologists who don't want to give anyone fodder that evolution might not be possible because it is too complex.
My take: Evolution has a significant random element and we need to condition that randomness on the fact that we exist. The biologists and computer scientists on Mars aren't asking these same questions about why they never came to be.