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Dolphin brain, language, and intelligence

Ivo Kwee kwee at medphys.ucl.ac.uk
Tue Feb 2 06:42:00 EST 1999

Tim Tillman wrote:
> << .....cut out ... >>>
> > Also, are you saying that communication is a
> >prerequisite to your definition of intellegence?
> No.  Development of language may be indicative of intelligence.  It would be
> difficult to describe an individual human born without the necessary brain
> anatomy to utilize language in some fashion as intelligent.  Communication
> is a valuable ability.  But, I did not equate communication with language.
> Microorganisms can communicate by chemical signals.  The pressence of these
> signals will induce the population to act in a certain way.   Inducing
> biolumenescence pathways and aggregation of slime mold individuals into
> reproductive structures come to mind.  This form of communication is not
> considered a language.  Languages are vocal or symbolic in some form, and
> allow the transfer of complex ideas.  Languages are not chemical.  Many
> animals communicate vocally.  Do we assign the vicious growling of a dog to
> language?  I think not.  Its communication goal is purely instinctive.  The
> dance of the honey bee can communicate the location of nectar.  But, this is
> not language.  This is the communication of a concrete fact, not complex
> ideas.  Great apes and humans can communicate complex ideas.
> Tim

Maybe ultimately it _is_ the prime objective for "general communication"
to establish a link between brains. The most _direct_ way in chemical or
electrically such as in micro-organims. But chemical diffusion or
electrical conductivity is low in air, so animals "developed" sound and
language as a link between brains. 

This means that it is no good to say "having a language" is intelligent.
Micro-organisms don't need vocal language because they have better.
Language is prone to misinterpretation while chemical and electrical
signals (in some sense ...) are not.


Ivo Kwee,
Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering,
University College London.

Office: 0171 - 209 6415		Fax:    0171 - 209 6269
Home:   0171 - 794 5243		E-mail: kwee at medphys.ucl.ac.uk

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