Ants’ complex behavior patterns are part of following a colony algorithm rather than making individual decisions. They make immediate individual decisions but the hive mind of the colony makes the big ones. We humans struggle to understand the hive mind because our world is one of uniquely individual minds that can, with effort, be got to work together — for a while.
What we are learning is that invertebrate status is not, by itself, evidence of an inability to think or feel — as we used to suppose. In a world full of information and intelligence, it’s not nearly as tidy as our biology teachers thought.
Navigation expert Eric Cassell points out that algorithms have made the ant one of the most successful insects ever, both in numbers and complexity. Computer programmers use some of the same basic structures.
Question: Magnetic poles can shift. We can suddenly have north become south and south become north. The continents can drift. So can these animal behaviors accommodate changes in earth’s magnetic field or its geography in order to allow animals to continue to migrate? No one really knows the answers to this stuff as yet.
Eric Cassell notes that insects with brains of only a million neurons exhibit principles found only in the most advanced man-made navigation systems. How?
Eric Cassell: Scientists typically specialize, and a biologist who does this may see problems for evolutionary theory in his or her own subdiscipline but then figure those problems are the exception and that evolutionary theory has things well in hand elsewhere in the life sciences.
There exists no evolutionary model that satisfactorily explains its origin. That by itself does not prove that gradual evolution didn’t produce such programming, but the lack of such a model should at least give the open-minded pause for reflection.
After an interview between Luskin and Cassell, the cyber-floor will be opened for the audience to ask Cassell questions about his ideas.
Eric Cassell: The Goulds call this curious dance “the second most information-rich exchange in the animal world,”5 second only to human language. That is quite a statement considering the communication is by insects with only 950,000 neurons, compared to humans with about eighty-five billion.
Richard W. Stevens: You’re aiming to find your childhood friend’s home in a new city. A map helps; GPS is better. Accessing all that previously-acquired mapmakers’ knowledge, employing all of that satellite, radio and computing technology, you’ll probably (although not certainly) reach your goal. Could some “dumb bird” do any better? Way better, actually.
“[H]ow did these embedded programs arise in the history of life? There’s the problem for evolutionists. “Specified complexity, irreducible complexity, and the Cambrian explosion are inexplicable from a Darwinian viewpoint,” comments Baylor University computer engineer and intelligent design theorist Robert J. Marks. “In this book, Cassell masterfully adds animal algorithms to the list.”