Explaining natural wonders: bacterial intelligence (Animals)

by David Turell @, Thursday, May 18, 2017, 18:58 (11 days ago) @ David Turell

Another approach to bacterial intelligence from the physicist/philosopher previously presented:


"As a result of the arrow of time, systems that can grasp the impact of their future actions must necessarily have a temporal thickness. They must have internal models of themselves and the world that allow them to make predictions about things that have not and might not actually happen. Such models can be thicker and thinner, deeper or shallower, depending on how far forward they predict, as well as how far back they postdict, that is, whether they can capture how things might have ended up if they had acted differently. Systems with deeper temporal structures will be better at inferring the counterfactual consequences of their actions.


"The distinction between thick and thin models of time, then, suggests that viruses are not conscious; even if they respond inferentially to changes in their external milieu, they do not embody a deep understanding of their past or a long-run view of their future, which would enable them to minimise that hasn’t-yet-happened surprise.


" In non-conscious processes, this selection is realised in the here and now; for example, with selection among competing systems (such as phenotypes in evolution) or the evocation of reflexes (such as chemotaxis in simple organisms, in which they move towards or away from a higher concentration of a chemical). Conversely, the sort of selection we have associated with consciousness operates in parallel but within the same system – a system that can simulate multiple futures, under different circumstances, and select the action with the least surprising outcome. The conscious self is simply a way of capturing these counterfactual futures, in a way that facilitates active inference."

Comment: To make significant changes to an organism, it is unavoidable that the changes involve a knowledge of the future result. Can bacteria imagine the future? Preposterous. Any other proposal is a return to chance alterations.

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