Intelligent Design

Whence Intelligence?

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Scientists have discovered that the tiny, single cells show the hallmarks of intelligence.

At Phys.Org they report on a study conducted by a Belgian and French team.

Here’s a snippet from Phys.Org:

A slime made up of independent, single cells, they found, can “learn” to avoid irritants despite having no central nervous system.

“Tantalizing results suggest that the hallmarks for learning can occur at the level of single cells,” the team wrote in a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Further:

The team wanted to see whether an organism without a nervous system could similarly “learn” from experience and change its behaviour accordingly.
They chose a very humble life form indeed—Physarum polycephalum, also known as “many-headed slime”. . . .

These findings in an organism that preceded humans on Earth by some 500 million years, suggests that “learning” may predate the emergence of nervous systems, said the researchers.
“Our results point to the diversity of organisms lacking neurons,” they wrote, “which likely display a hitherto unrecognized capacity for learning.”
The discovery may boost understanding of the behaviour of other simple organisms like viruses and bacteria.

Well, if “intelligence” is not a result of “multicelluarity,” then it is not a “inter-cellular” phenomena, but an “intra-cellular” phenomena. That is, “intelligence” is a property of the cell.

And, of course, the obvious question is: WHERE is this “intelligence” to be found in the cell? I know! I know! I know!

15 Replies to “Whence Intelligence?

  1. 1
    Neil Rickert says:

    I am not surprised at this. However, it may be a cause of concern for the proponents of AI.

  2. 2
    Axel says:

    Sure. It’s God ‘tinkering’. Which he’s not supposed to do. (Some would say it disqualifies him, ‘ipso facto’, from being a good football [soccer] manager).

    But He is not too grand to invigilate the activities of all the single celled-creatures of his making and everything else, but, instead, He is effortlessly omniscient; effortlessly.

  3. 3
    Robert Byers says:

    Do these things have a memory? I think they are beings using a memory. yet without memory how can learning be done?
    If the memory machine is not included in the conclusions then its a miss.

  4. 4
    polistra says:

    Unnecessary experiment. If slime molds or bacteria were NOT capable of learning, they wouldn’t be here. Existence requires learning.

  5. 5
    PaV says:

    RB:

    It doesn’t mammalian kind memory; it only needs computer language kind of memory: i.e., a storage site of some sort.

    Epigenetics will do just nicely.

  6. 6
    nightlight says:

    WHERE is this “intelligence” to be found in the cell? I know! I know! I know!

    Intelligence (or computation performing anticipatory, goal oriented algorithms) is result of activity of cellular biochemical networks. These networks with adaptable links are distributed, self-programming computers of the same mathematical kind (neural networks) as the networks of neurons, forming human brains.

    They are merely specialized in solving different kinds of problems than human brains. But they are also far smarter in their particular field of specialty (molecular bio-engineering) than any human experts in our corresponding fields. E.g. they know how to synthesize new live cells, or live organisms, from scratch (from simple food molecules), a task which is centuries (at least) ahead of anything human science and technology could even dream of achieving.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    reminds me of this:

    Learning from Bacteria about Social Networking (Information Processing) – video
    Excerpt: I will show illuminating movies of swarming intelligence of live bacteria in which they solve optimization problems for collective decision making that are beyond what we, human beings, can solve with our most powerful computers.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJpi8SnFXHs

    Amoeba-inspired computing system outperforms conventional optimization methods – June 1, 2015
    Excerpt: Researchers have designed and implemented an algorithm that solves computing problems using a strategy inspired by the way that an amoeba branches out to obtain resources. The new algorithm, called AmoebaSAT, can solve the satisfiability (SAT) problem—a difficult optimization problem with many practical applications—using orders of magnitude fewer steps than the number of steps required by one of the fastest conventional algorithms. The researchers predict that the amoeba-inspired computing system may offer several benefits, such as high efficiency, miniaturization, and low energy consumption, that could lead to a new computing paradigm for nanoscale high-speed problem solving.
    Led by Masashi Aono, Associate Principal Investigator at the Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology, and at PRESTO, Japan Science and Technology Agency, the researchers have published a paper on the amoeba-inspired system in a recent issue of Nanotechnology.
    “We demonstrated a way to harness the huge computational power of natural phenomena in terms of complexity and energy,” Aono told
    http://phys.org/news/2015-06-a.....thods.html

    Researchers study code that allows bacteria to either bet on the present or travel in time – April 22, 2013
    Excerpt: Experimental studies have revealed dozens of regulatory genes, signaling proteins and other genetic tools that cells use to gather information and communicate with one another.,,,
    Each bacterium in the colony communicates via chemical “tweets” and performs a sophisticated decision-making process using a specialized complex gene network comprised of many genes connected via complex circuitry.,,,
    “The ingenuity is that at each oscillation the cell also sends ‘chemical tweets’ to inform the other cells about its stress and attempt to escape,”,,, “The tweets sent by others help regulate the circuits of their neighbors and guarantee that no more than a specific fraction of cells within the colony will enter into competence.”
    http://phys.org/news/2013-04-code-bacteria.html

  8. 8
    PaV says:

    nightlight:

    Intelligence (or computation performing anticipatory, goal oriented algorithms) is result of activity of cellular biochemical networks.

    Where did the “cellular biochemical networks come from”?

  9. 9

    Peter Rowlands and Vanessa Hill demonstrated that the DNA system, the biological ordering, has the same mathematical structure as the physical universe.

    There are 4 bases CATG in the biological ordering, and there are 4 parameters mass, time, space and charge in the physical universe. And then they showed some 4 or 5 more corresponding maths in the main structure of the physical universe, and the main biological structure.

    That means the DNA system is like a universe in it’s own right, like human imagination, or a 3D computer game are worlds in their own right.

    This explains how DNA can form 3 dimensional objects. It explains how organisms develop to adulthood, using a representation of the organism in the DNA world to guide the development of the physical organism.

    So that is how intelligent design works, by choosing forms in the DNA world.

    One day we will able to convert the signal from DNA to a computer video signal, and look directly inside the 3D DNA world.

    This is a great theory, in my opinion.

  10. 10
    mw says:

    CEH: Life as the Communication of Information, referring to William Dembski’s thought-provoking work, Being as Communion”

    “The information-first view of nature fits the Biblical worldview. God spoke the universe into existence. He called for the newly created earth to bring forth creatures. He communed with Adam and Eve in the garden. He spoke His laws to Moses. He writes morality into our consciences. He inspired His word. Jesus in his incarnation spoke what the Father gave him to say. After his resurrection, he spoke a great commission to the disciples. The gospel comes by hearing; salvation by confessing with the mouth Jesus as Lord. The church is the communion of saints, both locally and universally. In heaven we will have eternal communion with the Lord God almighty, our Creator.”
    http://crev.info/2016/04/life-.....formation/

    Further, Catholics and Orthodoxs believe, and indeed some Protestants, at Holy Communion we literally digest His Communion, the very essence of His Being, and that essence is also active at that time when two or more are gathered in His Name.

    Some form of divine intelligence, that is divinity, as children of the Most High, Adam and Eve must have had. It is believed that Holy Communion is re-coating us with our original divine nature to eventually return to the Divine Will.

    However, today, we mainly believe we are offspring of the most lowly quadruped because Darwin cast out the divine in history.

    Even Dawkins appeals to circumstantial evidence to support evolutionism. Well, the the same appeal works better in relation to intelligently recorded history, and the broader experience of people having mystical experience, including intelligently generated information from unknown processes, as at Sinai.

  11. 11
    mw says:

    What would be the most important communication that the highest most powerful intelligence would want to communicate; assuming “It” is good? Surely; to communicate itself and in a truethful manner to be simply understood, for our good?

  12. 12
    nightlight says:

    @8 PaV “Where did the “cellular biochemical networks come from”?”

    OK, so you acknowledge that the initial question was groundless. With that concession, the same construction principle carries all the way down as far as we can see.

    If you start with scientific-technological society at the top level of the hierarchy and ask where does its intelligence and know how come from, the answer is from its building blocks (individual humans) and their network (scientific, industrial, economic, etc social networks). All such systems are distributed self-programming computers performing anticipatory algorithms (just like individual human or animal brains, or neural networks in abstract realm, do).

    The next level in the hierarchy of intelligent system is individual human (or animal). I that case the intelligence is result of computation by networks of neurons making up their brains.

    Then, one level further down, the cellular intelligence is result of computation by cellular biochemical networks whose nodes are individual molecules and links are their interactions.

    The next level down, it appears all we have is plain “dumb” matter. But it need not be as dumb as we presently imagine.

    Back in the 19th century, the cells themselves were viewed by science as “dumb” blobs of random proteins, yet by mid 20th century it became clear that that there is sophisticated distributed computer with digital code running their whole operation.

    Analogous revolution in physics, where “dumb” matter and its “laws” will be found out to be result of sophisticated anticipatory computation by yet another layer of smart networks is still ahead. Some speculative theories (known as digital physics, cellular automata physics) about Planck scale pregeometry already use that kind of networked substratum to construct our fundamental physical phenomena (at least some). E.g. see an intro article on Wolfram’s variant of such Planck scale networks based pregeometry (the simpler underlying structure from which space-time geometry and matter-energy with natural laws as we know them arise).

    To summarize, science is moving one layer at time toward unraveling the workings of intelligence (including lawfulness, patterns) in nature. But there is not much mystery in where the cellular intelligence (which in its domain of expertise, molecular bio-engineering, is vastly superior to human intelligence) comes from.

    It is kind of comical to observe Meyer and the supporters of Seattle ID, wonder where could the intelligence producing biological evolution come from, winking toward tribal deities of mideastern shepherds from thousands of years ago, while ignoring the clearly evident intelligent computing machinery in the cells. The source of intelligence behind evolutionary innovations is not a mystery — it’s right there plain to see (James Shapiro calls these mechanisms “natural genetic engineering”). Of course, the intelligence behind the origin of life is still an open question, but that will have to wait revolution in fundamental physics to resolve, again without need for any mideastern tribal deities.

  13. 13
    PaV says:

    nightlight:

    OK, so you acknowledge that the initial question was groundless. With that concession, the same construction principle carries all the way down as far as we can see.

    I posed a question. I was making no concession. Rather, I was forcing you to make a concession. You have chosen not to make it. Instead, you’ve written what follows.

    If you start with scientific-technological society at the top level of the hierarchy and ask where does its intelligence and know how come from, the answer is from its building blocks (individual humans) and their network (scientific, industrial, economic, etc social networks). All such systems are distributed self-programming computers performing anticipatory algorithms (just like individual human or animal brains, or neural networks in abstract realm, do).

    This is, whether you are aware of it or not, a “materialist” position. I’m a Catholic. I do not take a “materialist” position when it comes to human beings who are “made in the image and likeness of God.”

    You are way off base because of your “materialism.”

    Let me point out two experiences that I’ve had in life:
    (1) Being so drunk that I don’t remember being at a party, though I was told later that I was the “life of the party.” How did I function so well in the absence of “self-awareness”? This is a question you should ask yourself. Of course, you can simply dismiss it and go merrily along your way;
    (2) Twice I’ve “seen” something, and “heard” it, and “experienced” it when in actual fact, I was “looking” elsewhere, and what I “saw” was in the future: i.e., it had not yet happened. How do you explain these experiences, experiences just as real as weighing myself in the morning (which I wish was “less” real)? Again, it is easy to simply dismiss these, and go your merry way.

    But, if you want to “explain” these experiences to me in terms of material realities, well, I can’t afford the time to do that.

    BTW, the “concession” I wanted from you was to admit that somewhere in the DNA is the source of the “intelligence” of the cell; i.e., the DNA is “programmed.”

  14. 14
    nightlight says:

    BTW, the “concession” I wanted from you was to admit that somewhere in the DNA is the source of the “intelligence” of the cell; i.e., the DNA is “programmed.”

    Cellular biochemical networks are the computer and the programmer at that level.

    What you’re getting at, it seems, is like someone looking at a brain and asking where is the little guy who runs it and does all the thinking. There is no little homunculus inside (with another smaller one inside it, etc) that thinks for it, since it is also its own computer and programmer.

    That kind of self-programming networked systems not only exist (as brains illustrate), but are pervasive in nature and everything seems to built on that type of structure all the way down. As to why that would be so, that’s a metaphysical or theological topic.

    But there is no need at any stage to look for deus ex machina to account for any particular intelligent behavior or intelligently designed structures that we can observe since all the needed intelligence is built in. It works from inside out, from smaller scales to larger, as a hierarchy of intelligent systems, each designing and engineering next layer of farther reaching and more integrated intelligent systems and technologies, from matter-energy (the so-called “dumb” physical systems), to molecular machines of cells, through multicellular organisms, to humans, then to human technological societies. It all builds up on the same general pattern, with each layer creating the next one in its own image as it were (i.e. as a self-programming distributed computer of neural network kind).

  15. 15
    PaV says:

    nightlight:

    What you express, you express as an opinion; not fact.

    My experiences are “facts”: they actually happened. My experiences make quite clear that who we are, we are in subjective way, connected, but not necessarily, to a physical medium.

    Your viewpoint posits that the medium is the beginning and end of everything; my position points out that when it comes to “self-awareness,” it is the subjective human being who is determinative: i.e., we have free-will. You’re taking, as I suspect you know, a deterministic point of view regarding human free will.

    I strongly disagree.

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