The Nature and Evolution of Intelligence

Pranath Fernando pxf at cs.bham.ac.uk
Mon Jun 14 12:35:00 EST 1993


In article <1vdq4dINN45g at senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>, remcat at athena.mit.edu (!rif) writes:
|> In article <1993Jun9.144119.30923 at pbs.org>, pstinson at pbs.org writes:
|> |> The velociraptors in Jurassic Park appear to be smarter than a ramapithecine
|> |> and perhaps as smart as an australopithecus afarensis.  Considering the fact
|> |> that those raptors arreared in real life over 130 million years ago, why
|> |> couldn't an intelligent (homo sapiens class) dinosaur have evolved from the
|> |> raptors?  130million  minus 65million leaves another 65million. They had as
|> |> much time as we did. :-)
|> 
|> 
|> OKay, here goes:
|> 
|> Assumption one: the raptors were doing fairly well -- there
|> stare-down-then-have-your-friends-attack method seems to work ok. They were also
|> well equipped to fight -- did you *see* there claws and teeth? 
|> 
|> Assumption two: in order to develope some new feature as a species, there needs
|> to be a) a mutation in that direction, and b) some advantage to having that
|> mutation.
|> 
|> Now think about the original human predecessors, say right when we split of the
|> primate "tree." No fangs, not very strong (individually), poorly protected from
|> cold, not very fast, not as smart as now. This sort of situation would be highly
|> selective for intelligince and cooperation. The raptors, OTOH, were well-equipped
|> for their environment -- if a slightly more intelligent raptor were born, it
|> would have hardly any advantage over the norm. One might as well ask why insects
|> haven't developed intelligence, even the "hive" intelligence of Aliens. They are
|> doing *just fine* they way they are. Simply put, unless a species has a reason to
|> change, it probably won't.
|> 
|> =rachel emily=


Just a question to all those interested in this.

The word `Intelligence' seems to have been thrown around quite a bit here (and in
fact quite a few places)

I'd be interested to know what people actually MEAN by `Intelligence', 

Is it something only humans have, or are other organisms Intelligent ?

What are your CRITERIA for deeming something `Intelligent' ?

Is it meaningful to compare different species on an `Intelligence scale' ?

Is it fair(or reasonable/interesting) to compare, say, how other animals perform on
tasks humans tend to be rather good at (e.g. abstract problem sloving etc) when
such skills ar'nt required in that animals environment to survive well, and hence
not likely to be produced by evolution ? (i.e. is it fair say to judge how well
a rat performs as a human being, as a test of it's intelligence ?)

Is there a scientific justification for claiming Intelligence only for humans ?




I'll explain my interest in this ........

For my Masters thesis, I'm developing a theory on the nature and evolution of
intelligence : What Intelligence is, and HOW and WHY it has evolved in various
organisms. Though everyone talks as if they know what they mean by `Intelligence',
the subject is'nt studied much in acedemia (evolution of Intelligence) becuase :

                    - It's hard !

                    - Most subjects see it as "not our area", the result being
                      that it slips between the pillars of acedemia, not quite
                      biology, not quite ethology, not quite psychology, etc.


I suspect most people *think* they know what they mean by intelligence, perhaps
though if they are asked a few questions (like "define what you mean?") and they
find themselves getting into awkward arguments, they assume that some acedemic
knows what it is - The fact is, they don't.

I'm interested in hypothesising in as much detail as possible - what selection
pressures in what particular environments, and in what particular time sequence,
caused the evolution of behaviour which we might deem to be `intelligent', as well
as obviously formulating critera for distinguishing between intelligent and non
intelligent behaviour.

I have studied this area from many disiplines, and may well be able to surpise you
with the consequences of your particular definitions, which you may not have
realised ! (and which perhaps you don't like !).

I am cross posting to quite a few groups, as I feel these questions span over a
wide vareity of subjects and positions.

I'm sorry if you feel this is'nt quite relevent to your area of discussion, it may
be for some of your peers.

Personal reply's will be greatly appriciated, as this will save me ploughing
through loads and loads of groups ! References to relevent work will also be
greatly appriciated.

Many thanks again,

Pranath Fernando



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