Monday, 29 December 2003

Hive Minds, Blogs, and Brains

I´ve been meaning for some time to post some of my thoughts and deductions on the nature of Intelligence, and especially the "emergent behaviour" of groups of intelligent, semi-intelligent, or unintelligent nodes.
Which is jargon for how beehives and nations can be considered in some sense to be thinking creatures in their own right, independant of their constituent bees and citizens.

But now Steven Den Beste has trumped me, and has produced one of the finest pieces of writing on the subject I´ve ever read, in or out of a PhD thesis. Please go read the whole article, it´s another one of Steven´s tour de forces, inordinately long and yet full of meat. Low-fat. Juicy. Brain food at its finest.

There are a few things I would have added, had I written the article:
  • A little on Naked Mole Rats, the only mammal as far as I know that behaves in agregate more like a colony life-form (like a beehive, a coral reef, or a portugese man o´war) than a group of independant animals.
  • How the complexity of behaviour (and hence intellect) of a colony/hive-mind can be less than any of its component parts: Ask yourself, which is more complex, the behaviour of a lynch-mob, or the behaviour of one person in it? Which has the higher IQ?
  • Like Steven, my intuition says that Chaos theory means that Digital hardware (e.g. computers as we know them) cannot behave the same way that Analog hardware ( e.g. biological brains ) do. Yet as I´ve blogged before, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests the contrary, and at the lowest level, everything (except according to recent theory, time) is quantised (hence in some sense digital) anyway.
  • Something on the various prosthetic Brain parts, Cyborgs and Hybrots that have appeared in previous posts of mine - and the demonstrations of short-circuiting the Brain.
  • Some speculation on exactly why
    Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.
    How "emergent behaviour" describes remarkably well a Theory of how Democracies work as well as they do, the paradox of why Meritocracies have a poor track record in comparison, and exactly how a Representative Democracy may be an optimised synthesis of the two.
But that´s about it. There is the makings of a cracking good book in this post of his, I hope he has time to write one.

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