Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Survival machines: The Intelligence Problem Part 2


Humans are adapted to living in a variety of places on earth, which means our genes
are surely safe in the long run. Why then are we so intelligent? How does this arise from Evolution? 

Most organisms on earth have enough consciousness, neurons and complexity to live in their suited environments. This makes sense, and is slightly obvious, as these organisms have evolved over a very long period of time and contain genes which have not been sieved out by Darwin's biological game. 

There are many organisms which are very intelligent social creatures, take for example the whale and dolphin family, especially the killer whale and the bottle-nose dolphin. They are able to conjure up hunting plans in groups in situations they have never been in and they are able to play and socially interact at a level which does not explicitly show a biological gain.

However, on closer analysis dolphins and whales which are great (in groups mostly) at inventing hunting methods in new situations are able to increase their chance of eating a good meal. They are also increasing the variety of fish etc. they eat this means that they are able to survive long enough to mate and to bring up young-lings and prolong their genes. 

Take a look... >^

Their social 'time' which includes playing and interacting whilst migrating or hunting can be good for building teamwork and group cohesion which would make the group more confident and willing to perform well in group hunting sessions. Again, this brings more food. Also social 'time' allows for dolphins to find mates and reproduce... oops yes... back to that prolonging the species and survival of the genes jazz...

Elephants too a like this.. they are extremely social and intelligent animals who are very capable of surviving and living comfortably in their environment. 

However there is one species which is so intelligent it can not just persist in a certain physical space and adapt to it over time, it can adapt its own environment on huge scales to help itself. It would be like dolphins inventing a hydrogen plant underwater for them to heat up their underwater homes or to power underwater dolphin gyms to help them get in shape for hunting season.

That species is homo sapiens. Us. We are able to record our own language and store information from the present and pass it on (past our own lifetime) to the next generation. We are able to change our environment to suit us (agriculture, cities, transportation lines and energy plants) using science and technology. We are able to evolve an extremely complex society with many social levels and social standings. We are able to go the moon and land a rover on Mars. We are a clever bunch compared  to the other forms of life.

If we are merely surviving through time and are being used as pods by genes for them to prolong themselves. Then why do we need to write complex fictional stories or films... learn mathematics or create a large hadron collider? 

Firstly, we are smart due to our genes, somehow over millions of years the genes that make you and I 'smart' (some cannot be deemed 'smart' but I mean smart in a purely biological sense) have survived Darwin's evolutionary game, they are still playing. These genes either developed from original copies long ago and have somehow become victim to  mass mutation or just been selected by nature to be successful genes through many testing generations. 

So we are left with a few ways to solve this slight puzzle. We can go down the route and say that we are this intelligent because the genes that survived due to our environment have made us into a complex machine which can compute the way it does... it so happens that over time and development we could become smarter and make ourselves smarter. This view is the consequential view and basically means that we are smart because it is a consequence of our genes adapting us to be just smart for our environment. 

There is the view that our intelligence is due to mutations in our genome and that this mutation has survived somehow through time and is now in every human being. (Unlikely but still possible). 

Of course there is a mixed view which claims that our intelligence is a consequence of our systems evolving from our descendants and with our cousins (evolutionary family i.e.) just for our environment, but we so happened to become capable of further intellectual and social progress. With this some of our genes carried mutations which slipped in our genome and stayed there, these mutations could have given our intelligence a booster as it were. 

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