Re: Whatever happened to...
"Using genetic algorithms to design better, faster and more efficient chips?"
The designs "worked", but why they worked wasn't clear, and often they "worked" only because of a quirk of the implementation.
There was one case where genetic algorithms designed a chip that had a block of gates in the middle that didn't seem to do anything - it wasn't connected to anything else in the part. However, when it was deleted the part stopped working. MUCH analysis and head-scratching later, they came to the conclusion the gates were introducing noise onto the power bus, and that noise was needed elsewhere in the chip. However, shift just one aspect of the fabrication - use thinner gate material, or do a geometry shrink - and the design no longer worked.
"Designs" like that aren't terribly useful - if a genetic algorithm gives you something where you don't know what aspects you can change without breaking it, it stops being engineering and becomes magic.