Natures wonders: Crocodile tools (Introduction)

by dhw, Sunday, December 15, 2013, 08:32 (2104 days ago) @ David Turell

Dhw: (To Tony): You and David are happy to describe computerized learning as Artificial Intelligence, but when the procedures are carried out by a living organism with a live memory, ability to perceive, process and communicate data, make decisions, pass data across generations, suddenly these attributes no longer signify intelligence!

I am disappointed that neither of you has responded to this.

DAVID: As long as you accept that 'intelligent cells' really are litle computers with clever genomes filled with God-supplied information that can answer an stimulus with an intelligent responses based on the information they have, then you have a solid theory. Inventing a liver or kidney NEVER is a minor tweak. I wish you really understood how terribly complicated they are.

I do not accept that intelligent cells are little computers. I am not prepared to rubbish the research of so many scientists who claim that cells are sentient, intelligent beings. I do not dispute that the invention of complex organs like the liver is a major problem (above all for the chance hypothesis), but this is why it is essential to distinguish between types of intelligence. Even you have accepted that dogs and corvids have intelligence, though it is far below that of humans. Where does it spring from? One proposal is that it emerges from the interactions between billions of CELLS. If this is so, there is no reason in theory why all kinds of intelligence should not emerge from interaction between all kinds of cells. The ant is particularly important for me as an example of how emergence works, and as an analogy of how it might work with cells. The first underground cities and the invention of farming and military strategies etc. illustrate how complex ideas may emerge from interaction between comparatively simple individuals. The interaction between billions of human brain cells produces machines of astonishing complexity. The greater the complexity of interaction between these vast numbers of cells, the greater the intelligence.

There are, then, three theistic hypotheses here: God preprogrammed the liver, intervened in order to invent the liver, or devised an infinitely flexible system of interacting intelligences ultimately capable of inventing the liver, the Boeing 747, "King Lear". According to the theory of "emergence", they all stem from interaction between cells. Because of your anthropocentric view of the universe, you are forced to argue that although corvid, canine and human intelligence emerges from the interaction between cells, it must also be linked to something else, but you don't know what. If there is a "don't know what", how do you know it's not present in different forms and degrees in ants and in cells? If there is no "don't know what", then you are stuck with intelligence as a property that emerges from biochemical interactions, ranging from bacteria to humans. Since you can never draw a clear dividing line between what seems intelligent and what is intelligent, your insistence on cellular, bacterial and formic automatism is nothing but assumption.


As usual, I am several hours behind in these exchanges. A warm welcome back to Matt, who under "Buddhism and Karma" has captured the essence of the argument:

MATT: I'm saying that the intelligent behaviour of ants isn't an illusion of intelligence, but that it is actually intelligence. And that if you accept the argument that this intelligence is ultimately the result of gene expression contained within the DNA of the individuals of a colony, then you necessarily accept an identical argument for the human brain. That's because neurons are no less automatons than the individuals of an ant colony.

Thank you.

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