When working with Genetic Algorithms, I know of essentially two types. One is an example, where a mutation algorithm generates a unit, which is itself an algorithm. A Windows-based program which used to work in this way, a long time ago, was named ‘Discipulus‘.
Another type of Genetic Algorithm which can exist, which can also be described as an ‘Evolutionary Programming’ example, is one which generates a unit, which is really just an arbitrary array of data, for which an externally-defined program must determine a fitness-level, so that the mutation algorithm can try to find units, which achieve greatest possible fitness. An example of such a system, which is still maintained today, is named ‘µGP3‘.
I would guess that something like ‘µGP3′ is more useful in Engineering, where a deterministic approach can be taken to determine how well a hypothetical machine would work, which was tweaked by the Evolved Data-Set, but according to a set of rules, which is not known to have an inverse.
‘Discipulus’ might be of greater use in AI, where the Genetic Algorithm is assumed to take a range of input parameters, and is required either to take an action based on those, or to arrive at an interpretation of those parameters, for which the AI was trained using numerous examples of input-value-sets, and for which a most-accurate result is known for each (training) set of simultaneous input-values. In the case of ‘Discipulus’, there exist two types of training exercises: Approximation, or Classification. And a real-world example where such a form would be useful, is in the computerized recognition of faces. Or of shapes, from other sorts of images.
Actually, I think that the way facial recognition works in practice today is, that a 2D Fourier Transform is computed of a rectangle, the dimensions of which in pixels have been tweaked, but in such a way that the conformity of the Fourier Transform to known Fourier Transforms pretty well guarantees that a given face is to be recognized.
But other examples may exist, in which the relationship between Input variables and Output Values is essentially of an initially-unknown nature. And then, even if we might not want to embed an actual GA into our AI, the use of GAs may provide some insight, as to how Input Values are in fact related to Output Values – through Human Interpretation of the GAs which result.