Cellular intelligence: Animal Algorithms reviewed (Evolution)

by dhw, Thursday, November 11, 2021, 12:03 (16 days ago) @ David Turell

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.”

dhw: 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.

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

See below for my reply to that post

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”.

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

In the course of evolution, there is virtually no limit to stimuli, and different organisms have learned to cope with every kind of environment.

Control of differentiation
I shan’t reproduce all the quotes here.

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.

DAVID: Or simply intelligent design by God.

God may have designed the ability to communicate, cooperate and make decisions.

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).

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

Of course it does. Conscious intelligence only comes into play with the invention of new processes and/or when things go wrong.

Animal algorithms
QUOTE: "We say honey bees and ants are not very intelligent, yet their navigation expertise is entirely non-trivial. Likewise are the many insects’ nest construction powers. Cassell observes it would take deep thought and sophisticated design techniques to build a robot to accomplish what the bees, ants and termites can do shortly after birth:”

Precisely. The crucial question, then, is how did these skills arise in the first place? Once created, they can be passed on, just as humans have passed on their skills and inventions. You say God preprogrammed them or popped in to give bees and ants a quick course in navigation/nest-building. I propose that the bees and ants worked it all out for themselves.

QUOTE: "If human engineers and software programmers were called on to replicate [such] ability in robots controlled by artificial intelligence, they would find themselves forced to extend well beyond basic programming techniques in order to deliver the goods. The same is true of the complex programmed behaviors that appear to underlie sophisticated nest construction among bees, termites, and other architecturally proficient insects.

QUOTE: "Do animals exhibiting CPBs have themselves “minds” in some sense? That question is unanswered.”

Again, “precisely”. You say an outright no, and I suggest yes.

DAVID: Cassell applies his knowledge of AI in this analysis. These instinctual behaviors cannot develop by stepwise evolution, but require design planning.

I would suggest that natural behaviours most likely did develop stepwise, and yes, they did require design. I doubt if the very first ants built the amazingly complex nests we see today. Subsequent generations would probably have added new features. Bee navigation may well have seen variations in the rate of success, and natural selection will have ensured that ultimately, the successful ones would have passed on their superior knowledge and skills.


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