Senate Do We Need Intelligence?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Jabbadabbado, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Ain't that the truth. Anybody remember jumpers on CD-ROM drives? Post-script? First personal computer I used had no memory; if you wanted to play a game on it, you first needed to program it.

    These days, I don't know anything about the internal workings of computers anymore. And I'm not interested, because I can do without the knowledge. I used to maintain that personal computers were introduced to consumers too early - everything was just too complicated. Not any more. So now I can focus on why I use them; I can focus on mastering the tools that I need to use.

    I guess that's not what Crabtree means at all, but his story is too vague for me. "A series of mutations"? What mutations? And why would they be inherently detrimental? One could suggest that the story shows that people are not getting dumber, but more attention-seeking.

    If it ever turns out that he's right, though, the solution is easy: put bone marrow back on the menu.
  2. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    This is how evolution is supposed to work. Mutations in the genetic code over time are a random walk, right? My son has an inherited trait that leaves him with a deep depression in his chest. He's tall with long, thin arms and legs, so much so that it looks like he has Marfan syndrome, and his pediatrician had him tested for it. He doesn't have it; he's on an extreme end of normal.

    So, mutations occur randomly, and then the perpetuation and inheritance of those mutations is shaped by environmental pressures acting on the organisms that have them. Depending on what environmental pressures an organism faces, some mutations aid survival. Some mutations impede survival. Some mutations have no effect on survival. The idea is that intelligence becomes an inherited trait that no longer aids survival and the environmental pressures shaping the species no longer push us toward greater intelligence.

    One of Vonnegut's later novels imagined a future in which our post-apocalyptic descendents evolve into seal-like sea mammals. We lose most of our intelligence and language abilities. But we retain our sense of humor.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Jan 26, 2013
  3. Sauntaero Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 9, 2003
    star 4
    I agree with Ramza. The big assumption is that "intelligence"--however one defines it--is/was a trait that was naturally selected for survival. Do we know that? Can we know that? It also assumes a linear progression of "intelligence" traits over dozens of generations. Are modern humans more "intelligent" than our ancestors? Depending on how one looks at it, it might take a lot more intelligence to live facing real dangers in the environment, rather than in a climate-controlled office. It also not-quite-implies that evolution has a "purpose" behind it, rather than random genetic edges, which is venturing dangerously close to the trainwreck of arguing about women in combat....
    Last edited by Sauntaero, Jan 26, 2013
  4. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Mar 19, 1999
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    It's a great point. I do assume that key genetic traits were naturally selected for survival, and I think it's a pretty good assumption. Tool innovation and language have given us a competitive advantage over nearly every animal species on the planet. We are, as I pointed out in another thread, the ultimate weed species.

    There's a pretty good argument that intelligence is what has made us such a weedy species and helped us spread through the globe and exterminate other hominids that may have competed with us early on.
  5. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    From what I understand of the early history of man, intelligence was a consequence, not a cause. I can't imagine an ape setting out to become more intelligent. When the Quarternary glaciation hit, we were forced to leave our trees. That led to us becoming bipedal, which in turn gave us an advantage over our predators; we could see further. Also, we'd freed our hands for other tasks. But the Ice Age was relentless! Not only trees got scarce, but food as well. Thus, we didn't stop at eating meat - we ate the bone marrow as well. Very nutricious. Lots of proteins. With the added boon of increasing our cranium.
  6. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Mar 19, 1999
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    No one is suggesting that apes set out to become more intelligent. But, it seems likely to me that in an extremely difficult environment, intelligence became an adaptive trait. We didn't breed ourselves for it. The environment bred us for intelligence. That's not to say that, per Sauntaero's point, neanderthals might not have been more intelligent than homo sapiens. Who knows? Sorry about the double negative. There may have been other equally important factors, like our ability to do long-distance running and become very skilled at hunting prey to exhaustion through persistence hunting.

    At some point we likely hunted a number of species of big game to extinction, forcing us to innovate again to secure a food supply. At that point, per @Ender_Sai 's great post, the environmental pressures may have shifted to breed us for greater intelligence again, at least for a while. Then the neolithic revolution, the invention of agriculture. Etc.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Jan 26, 2013
  7. Darth Guy Chosen One

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    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10
    Er, is there any evidence that the extinction of big game animals (and only some of them; species like aurochs and bison remained abundant) lead to the development of agriculture? The hunter-gatherer lifestyle was just ****ing awful-- then again, I guess so was being a farmer.

    And there's no evidence that homo sapiens "exterminated" other hominids. We outnumbered neanderthals 10 to 1 when we arrived in Europe and there's evidence in European (and Asian) DNA that we simply interbred with them.

    And the eating of bone marrow predated the last ice age, AFAIK. Pretty sure we ate bone marrow because that's all that was left of a predator's kill (we didn't yet have the ability to hunt for ourselves).
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  8. yankee8255 Force Ghost

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    May 31, 2005
    star 6
    Sadly, I think the title of this thread is also now the official slogan of the GOP.
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  9. Darth Guy Chosen One

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    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10
    Oh, also.
    No, it didn't. It was a dumb, offensive film based on a stupid premise. It's based on the notion that "stupid" people reproduce more often so "smart" people would eventually be wiped out. While I think it's technically correct that people with lower IQ's (obviously a flawless test of intelligence) have more kids than people in the higher range, it's absolutely true that the poor outbreed the rich. Judge is basically saying "poor = dumb." It's a bad film anyway even if we ignore the fact that it was trying make a serious c. 1920 anthropology point.
    Last edited by Darth Guy, Jan 26, 2013
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  10. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 8
    Well, good news for Larry the Cable Guy at least.

    Just to elaborate further on my point re: equations - because some excellent points have been raised since - what I was getting at was more along the lines of us no longer needing to know how to work out a complex equation; merely that we need to ask the right answer. But sufficient development in AI will take most of the guesswork out of this. It's as simple as saying to a computer, "I want to know what my portfolio performance is, as a whole at by asset class". Generally performance figures are calculated using either money weighted, or time weighted, return methodology. You'll get to a point in which the computer can discount money weighted because there have been significant capital withdrawals or deposits which will skew the figures, and therefore focus only on time weighting.

    So in effect, once you've told the computer what to do, and what to discount and why, you're removing the need to ever learn it again. Like a remote control, the need to get up and change channel is diminished to significantly and we get lazy about it.
  11. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    I really don't get how common it is to act as though increased technology represents decreasing intelligence. That we find new and better ways to do things does not, in itself, represent a decline in intelligence, nor does everyone need to know how to do all those things, that takes focus away from learning how to better use tools. To take an example for science.... even 20 years ago, there was a great deal that science students (or at least astro students) had to do by hand, equations to work, calculations to basically do by hand, etc. A lot of that is no longer present in astronomy, not because students are dumber, but because now the focus is learning how to use computers to be able to carry out tasks on a much larger scale than was done in the past, and carry them out much faster. Particularly as we move into an era increasingly-dependent on information and interconnection, it should be remembered that intelligence isn't doing something by rote, or just the ability to do particular tasks, but it's more about innovation and invention, and that is something that certainly hasn't shown a chance of disappearing, imo.
  12. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    It may have encouraged the spread of homo sapiens into new habitats and then placed a premium on adaptability and the ability to improvise on matters of food, putting a premium on intelligence after a long period in which a lot of the benefits went solely to those who were the best persistence hunters.

    Both are popular theories, and is there any reason that they would be mutually exclusive. I'm not necessarily talking about intentional genocide either, if homo sapiens simply moved into neanderthal territory and were able to out hunt and out gather them and starve them, but also perhaps acquire their women where convenient. But I imagine resource pressures might have caused warring too. It's not like that puts any kind of strain on our understanding of human nature.

    So, what might the long-term effects of greater division of labor on human evolution be? If the smartest people would agree to breed only with the smartest people (say a law that ivy league undergrads must also find an ivy league breeding partner before they can earn a degree), and dumber people only breed with dumber people, maybe we could get speciation on those grounds. Have a sub-species dedicated to being smart.
  13. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Now you're back at your initial question: is it objectively better if we're smart than if we're dumb?
  14. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
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    I don't know. Intelligence helped us bid up the human population to 7 billion, clearly a pretty dumb thing to do. At least 2 billion of those people don't enjoy many of the benefits of modern civilization. Far fewer than 1 billion of those people attain the level of education necessary to really take advantage of the great store of human knowledge.
  15. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    It's not so much a need as something that is very helpful. Dinosaurs were quite frankly among the dumbest things that walked the Earth, yet they rule dit for many millions of years. They sure coudl have used greater intelligence so as to develope technology to deflect asteroids. Otherwise they were quite successful for a long period of time.
  16. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    That's a bit one-sided. We are smart enough to develop the atomic bomb, which can potentially wipe us before an asteroid gets too close. At the same time, while the dinosaurs were dying, our forebears survived... by burrowing. No intelligence, just instinct and dumb luck.
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  17. LandoThe CapeCalrissian Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 30, 2012
    star 3

    Yet math and science scores across the board have fallen off from years past.

    Kids don't need an IPAD to do math, that's just BS.. an IPAD is just a distraction and a fancy way to do math, what kids need are a white piece of paper and a pencil. Just like they used in years past. Learn how to check your answers and work out problems the long way and show the work. Just like years ago when teahers said "no calculators." they said it for a reason, because it made kids dumber. Calculators are for adults not 4th graders to do math.

    Children in school should learn the basics before doing things on IPADS and computers... They should also learn how to use computers at a younger age but be required to use the traditional pencil and paper to do their work.. Id say by 7th 8th grade they should be taught enough basics to start incorporating technology into their work.
  18. VadersLaMent Chosen One

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    Apr 3, 2002
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    This is sort of true. But our forebears were not large dinosaurs.
  19. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Sep 19, 2000
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    Indeed, and it's not because of intelligence that we were not.
    Maybe I don't understand your point.
  20. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

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    Mar 4, 2011
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    They were small enough to survive by burrowing, whereas large dinosaurs were not.

    But modern day reverse-Darwin award situations aside, is survival directly linked to intelligence or is some survival skill ingrained in all species?
  21. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    I said that intellience is very helpful but not required. Small things that eventually became us did not need to be smart anymore than dinos did. But a big thing blasted the Earth and large creatures with large needs went the way of the dodo. Small things survived. Brains help but are not always the needed item.
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  22. LandoThe CapeCalrissian Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 30, 2012
    star 3

    yeah but without getting smarter those species could've easily died off... How a species adapts to its surroundings is whats most important..

    but I do agree, certain creatures functions don't require human level intelligence, dinsosaurs, like you stated were very successful and lacked relatively low forms of intelligence.
  23. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    The specific item here is that if the situation had been reversed and you had gigantic mammals and only very small dinos then no matter the brains the dinos would have survived. After a giant rock hit it is the smaller caloric need that lived.

    These are not absolutes. It is just how it worked out. It is quite possible that a large creature with vast intelligence could have made do over dumber, smaller things.
  24. LandoThe CapeCalrissian Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 30, 2012
    star 3
    like I stated above, how a species adapts to their environment is the most important thing... If that requires a smaller brain for their species to flourish, well that's the natural selection that will take place.
  25. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Well, many smaller dinosaurs did survive too... they just slowly evolved into modern-day birds.
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