Ants, slime mold & bacteria (Introduction)

by dhw, Friday, April 22, 2016, 15:12 (1241 days ago) @ David Turell

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.
dhw: 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.
DAVID: In nature the slime mold must find food. So it/they move round to find it. It/they are obviously programmed to find the closest food as it requires the least energy to reach. The maze shows this probability. No intellect required.

I would say that it is natural (even without God specifically having to preprogramme slime mold) for any organism to try to find the simplest solution to a problem (Ockham would agree), i.e. the shortest route to food. The intelligence is needed to find the solution. Here are some quotes from the video you recommended:
These studies are “redefining what is it to be intelligent.” They “challenge what we think of as intelligence.” “It's not that nature lacks intelligence, but our own concepts do”. Not quite the same as “no intellect required”.

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: I've pointed out that most of your bodily functions except thinking are automatic.

I had already replied to this as follows:
dhw: 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.
DAVID: And that 'decision making' can simply be chemical responses to chemical stimuli.

But please do not focus on chemical processes of acquiring or communicating information as if they explained decision-making, and do not focus on human concept-making as if its absence in bacteria denoted absence of intelligence. Your view that bacteria are not intelligent is a purely personal opinion, to which of course you are perfectly entitled, but the scientific (chemical processes) and philosophical (no concept-making) evidence you have cited is irrelevant.


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