Natures wonders: ants who are slave owners (Introduction)

by dhw, Sunday, March 10, 2019, 10:34 (16 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: […] I suggest that if some ants are required by a particular situation to change their behaviour, it is likely that the change of behaviour will change the DNA rather than the DNA forcing them to change their behaviour.

DAVID: You know I accept epigenetic abilities.

dhw: So do you accept my now bolded suggestion?

DAVID: Yes.

Thank you.

DAVID: Reread this website presented on Friday, March 02, 2018, 18:44
https://www.quantamagazine.org/the-simple-algorithm-that-ants-use-to-build-bridges-2018...

DAVID: I agree that we do not fully understand them but all the article showed were individuals we programmed to have their own individual responses once the activity started. I realize there had to be an ant who decided to start the bridge when at the lead of the column. His decision could very well be automatic or either/or: straight on or go around.

dhw: I doubt if it was one ant. They work cooperatively and collectively, just as our own cell communities do. You drew my attention to the article, but it clearly leaves open the possibility that there is more to ant behaviour than mere algorithms and automaticity.

DAVID: Without describing any.

You thought the article would prove that ants are robots automatically obeying instructions. It clearly doesn’t since it explicitly leaves other possibilities open.

DAVID: […] Your reliance on built in intelligence is used as a substitute for God and remains totally theoretical, while as research advances, more an more reactions are seen as automatic. My expectation is my view will prevail.

dhw: My hypothesis does not in any way “substitute” intelligence for God, but allows for God to have a different purpose and method from those which you attribute to him in your own totally theoretical hypotheses. I’m sure more and more automatic reactions will be discovered, as scientists probe the mechanics of sensing and movement and material action in all forms of life, including ourselves. But the material means of gathering information and performing material actions will not explain how organisms ranging from bacteria to humans process the information and make their decisions to perform the material actions. As a self-professed dualist, you champion the cause of autonomous intelligence, but for some strange reason, you think this only applies to large organisms.

DAVID: Once again you want to imply some degree of our special intelligence to organisms with no brains. Design for the future forms in evolution require a designing brain, which fits perfectly our experience. I have a very clear explanation for intelligent results that cells create, intelligent instructions they follow.

My thanks for abandoning the above attempt to pretend that my hypothesis seeks to be a substitute for God, and my regret that you’ve ignored the difference between decision-making and the automatic processes that precede and follow it. (You continue to focus only on automatic processes under “Biological complexity”. Fair enough, but not an answer to the points I have raised above.) Ants, of course, have brains, but yes, in common with an increasing number of modern scientists (see “Genome complexity”), I do propose that organisms with no brains have a degree of intelligence. You are quite right, however, that if every form, econiche, lifestyle and natural wonder was designed at the beginning of life, and stored in programmes to be passed on by bacteria who somehow only pick out their own bacterial programme, but somehow automatically pass the weaverbird and nest-building programme on to pre-weaverbird cells (multiply the example by a few billion), it would require...oh, now here’s a problem...not a designing brain, unless you think your God has a brain, but a designing mind. However, if every single multicellular life form etc. arose in response to and not in crystal-ball anticipation of changing conditions, it is possible that the cell communities (using a perhaps God-given form of intelligence) might have done the designing themselves.


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