Cellular intelligence (Evolution)

by David Turell @, Wednesday, November 10, 2021, 14:28 (17 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: I am reopening this thread because despite David’s insistence that the subject belongs to the past, he is reproducing more and more evidence from new research. I have to thank him for this, as he could easily have passed over such articles without informing us. I’ll begin, though, with relevant sections of Shapiro’s brilliant summary, which David himself quoted in his book “The Atheist Delusion”, as we need to see all subsequent articles in the light of Shapiro’s proposals:

Living cells and organisms are cognitive (sentient) entities that act and interact purposefully to ensure survival, growth and proliferation, They possess sensory, communication, information-processing and decision-making capabilities.
• Cells are built to evolve; they have the ability to alter their hereditary characteristics rapidly through well-described natural genetic engineering and epigenetic processes as well as my cell-mergers.
• Evolutionary novelty arises from the production of new cell and multicellular structures as a result of cellular self-modification functions and cell fusions.

Sensing autonomic activity
QUOTE: Rolls’ study shows “there is a driver,” he said. “There is someone who decides whether to hit the brake or the gas pedal.”

I have adapted my reply to this: Rolls opts for a driver who makes decisions. If, as you say, "the brain keeps track, modulates...", the brain is presumably the “driver” that controls and takes decisions. And the brain consists of various communities of cells working together. Decision-making is not an automatic action.

But it can be. See new entry on automatic algorithms in simple brained-animals.


DAVID: It is if each stimulus has an automatic response. That is the way living biochemistry works.

dhw: According to the above, the response to each stimulus requires a decision and a decision-maker. That is the opposite of an “automatic response”.

Stimuli are in limited number, which means all responses can well be automatic as limited in number also.


Control of differentiation

QUOTES: Stem cells are true multi-talents. They can develop into any cell type of an organism -- in humans there are over 200 -- and thus perform all vital tasks. Once the stem cells have decided on a task they can no longer be deterred from their goal. The final product, tissues and organs, almost always look the same and consist of defined proportions of different specialised cell types. But how do the cells actually know what they want to become and how many of them are actually allowed to do so?

"Using stem cells in a test tube, the researchers were able to show that decision-making does not take place purely randomly at the level of individual cells, as previously assumed, but is communicated within the cell community.” (David’s bold)

Communication in cell development is like working in a team. If the members choose tasks without consulting each other, some things are done twice and others not at all. A team that communicates well, on the other hand, can solve problems that arise and complete even complex projects reliably and efficiently," Christian Schröter says. "So it's not just the state of the individual cell that decides on its faith [dhw: Misprint for fate?], but the functioning communication with the other cells.'"

dhw: You could hardly have a clearer indication that cells/cell communities cooperate intelligently. These observations are confined to existing systems, but in our discussions on evolution, we are concerned with how speciation occurs – i.e. how cell communities change their form. The ability of stem cells to take on any form seems to me to provide a possible key to the whole problem. When conditions change, these cells can change – always communicating and cooperating with other cells before making and implementing their decisions. See the quote you bolded. Thank you for yet again offering us powerful evidence of cellular intelligence.

Or simply intelligent design by God.


dhw: NB I am not saying that these articles explicitly support Shapiro to the extent that cells are capable of designing their own evolution – neither of them is written with that context in mind. The point is the confirmation of the first of Shapiro’s statements quoted above. My contention is that the rest of Shapiro’s conclusions are totally feasible once we accept the first point and reject the assumption that every response, decision and innovation is the result of “mindless” cells automatically obeying instructions issued by a God (though it is also feasible that a God may have designed the mechanism in the first place).

Lots of mindless activity occurs with living organisms. See new entry.


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