Ants, slime mold & bacteria (Introduction)

by dhw, Thursday, April 21, 2016, 13:54 (1245 days ago) @ David Turell

I am telescoping three threads, as they all deal with the same subject.

DAVID (re ant rafts): I'm sure there was a first time and instinct developed with a degree of adaptability for the size of a crowd of brood passengers, since saving the brood is a necessity. I suspect the development of instinct is a God-given property.
dhw: I am also sure there was a first time, and I suspect that the first time was an act of intelligence, just like subsequent adaptations and reorganizations. The wonderful post on slime mold (many thanks again) suggests a very early stage of such intelligence.
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/slime-molds-are-smarter-than-you-think...
DAVID: I don't know if any intelligence is involved with slime mold. They solve the maze by checking every passage and then automatically pick the shortest route which can be done by feed back loop chemistry.

If you insert the word “automatically”, of course you preclude intelligence. I would have thought that checking information required awareness and finding a solution required intelligent decision-making.

QUOTE: "Even more amazing, when they sexually reproduce they break into individual amoeba-like cells and organize themselves into beautiful stalks and knobby spore-containing tops; the spores live but stalk cells altruistically sacrifice themselves."
dhw: Not human type intelligence, but rudimentary awareness to the point of taking decisions.
DAVID: Again, it can all be automatic as in bacteria.

It can all be automatic, as in your interpretation of the behaviour of bacteria, or it can all be intelligence, as in the findings of the eminent scientists you disagree with, though you admit that their conclusions are “equally possible”. That is an admission that you might be wrong, which is good enough for me.

Dhw (re bacteria): QUOTE: " […]This communication alters gene expression and allows bacteria to mount coordinated responses to their environments, in a manner that is comparable to behavior and signaling in higher organisms. […]

If you wish to argue that their behaviour (e.g. decision-making) is automatic because the chemical processes involved in acquiring and communicating information are automatic, then you may as well say the same of all “higher organisms”, including humans.

DAVID: …Quorum sensing may simply be an interpretation of the concentration of molecules produced by the bacteria's receptors. As for human automaticity, when did you run your every day bodily functions such urine production, poop production, remembering to breath, pumping your blood, sweating, etc.? You don't control the process of seeing, hearing, smelling, but you can independently think about what you are observing and create concepts about them.

You are repeating my own argument! You only focus on the chemical processes involved in acquiring and communicating information, and you ignore the “behaviour”. Here you have deliberately brought in the additional levels of consciousness that distinguish humans from less “intelligent” organisms, though you know perfectly well that the “intelligence” proposed by McClintock, Margulis, Shapiro, Bühler et al relates to decision-making and does not extend to concept-making.


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