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What Is Needed To Make An Intelligent Species?

  1. Feb 23, 2005 #1
    Suppose on one planet all the ingredients neccessary for life is available, as we know it will evolve but what are the chances of it evolving into an intelligent species (like us), do you just give it time and let time do its thing or do you need some other special ingredient?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 23, 2005 #2


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    Oh please, don't be shy - ask the really big questions!

    I think once you get past
    1] Is there a God?
    2] Why are we here?
    then your question
    3] How did we get to be what we are?
    is pretty much number 3 on the list of profoundly sought answers by Mankind.

    Personally, I believe that intelligence is an exceedingly long shot of survival traits.
  4. Feb 24, 2005 #3


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    I don't think that's the direction Gold is going, Dave. I also disagree with your conclusion that intelligience is an 'exceedingly long shot'. Intelligience would seem to be the natural consequence of any evolutionary sequence. It has huge survival value. Feel free to decry its inadequacies, but is still efficient.
  5. Feb 24, 2005 #4
    u believe we are intelligent.
    i guess our intelligence tends to 0 when comparing to our very little knowledge with respect to space and time.
    i guess by then, we won't be able to know its ingredients
    thus we don't know what it needs more.
    In fact can you define intelligence?
    i guess for a human being, i prefer to say "logic" instead of "intelligence"
    and i also believe that our Universe is "intelligent" but i can't explain why.
  6. Feb 24, 2005 #5
    The answer is the "Genetic Algorithm" of nature! It is beginning to be used by humans to solve problems that require considerable intelligence. With reproduction & crossing over, mutations, fitness & natural selection, we came to be what we are. Without the intelligence we would be less likely to find solutions to life problems, and hence survive.
    In another planet with the conditions of earth, intelligent life would surely emerge, although in a somewhat different form, depending on the fitness requirements and the history of events in that planet.

    [QUOTE = A_I_]
    i guess for a human being, i prefer to say "logic" instead of "intelligence"

    If humans are not intelligent then who is???
  7. Feb 24, 2005 #6


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    Gold Barz - Based on the theory of evolution, intelligence is not a necessary outcome, but as Chronos pointed out, intelligence has value for helping an organism survive (therefore, evolutionary mechanisms may favor the development of intelligence). Given that (1) intelligence is not a required outcome, (2) it is not clear how human intelligence developed, and (3) we have nothing else to compare our history to (no known alien species), I would say that there's no way to calculate the odds with any good certainty.

    A I - I'd say that intelligence and knowledge are different things. For example, intelligence would be the ability to learn and knowledge would be what you learned. We may not know a big fraction of what is in the universe, but we have the ability to learn about it. Stone Age humans were just as intelligent as people today...they just had less scientific/institutional knowledge to work with.
  8. Feb 24, 2005 #7


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    I think you need luck. Now, that's the same thing as waiting a long time of course. You know, play the lottery long enough and you'll have a good chance of winning in the course of many thousands of years. My view is that life is massively contingent: you could have all the ingredients and not luck, and I suspect no intelligent life will emerge. I think that's why it took so long to do it here. Need to persists long enough to increase the odds of the chance working in it's favor. We're lucky here I think. No more than two intelligent life forms in the Milky Way at any one time. Drake is way off but I wouldn't want to argue the point with him.
  9. Feb 24, 2005 #8
    So out of all the "alien life" out there, if they do exist, how many do you think would be intelligent? (a ballpark figure)

    i agree with Chronos, survival makes creatures smarter

    edit: this is completely baseless but I think there would be more than two intelligent species in the Milky Way at any one time
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2005
  10. Feb 24, 2005 #9
    Well, we do have somewhat of a reference frame here on Earth. Only one branch of the evolutionary tree has give rise to a creature with a significant capacity for reason ( which is how I will call it ). One in how many? I believe this would be somewhat similar to the proportion of life harbouring worlds where "reason" has emerged. Some factors specific to Earths evolutionary history may come and tweak this number a little but not significantly. Intelligence is just one strategy and it took a while before it paid-up for us.

    Our real strength as a specie is our adaptability, which does stem from our intelligence : there are no ecosystem on Earth we cannot inhabit
    (well... maybe oceanic abyss but you get the point, we are even making our first steps at living in space.)
    But intelligence only gave us a definite edge in adaptability fairly recently when we domesticated fire. Before that, intelligence had a fairly neutral value has far as evolutionary traits go. We were in fact not a particularly successful branch of evolution in comparison to many others and palaeontologists believe that we dwindled on the edge of extinction a few times. So intelligence, in its early phase, has a lot of potential as a survival strategy but it took the greatest part of our history to really be any good. Before that, its chimp-with-a-stick V.S. sabertooth...

    I see two milestones in our evolutionary history. One in our past, fire, pretty much assures us that humans will endure has long has the Earth does. Of course we will certainly have ups and down but even catastrophic ecological degradation, at this point, will not manage to wipe out our specie. Billions may die, but not all. It would be nice however if we smartened up before that happens :grumpy: . The only thing with the potential to eradicate humans at this point his a cosmological event: an asteroid collision or a neighbouring gamma ray emission *. This brings me to my second, future, milestone: space colonisation. If human manage to be able to survive independently of the Earths resources, well I believe we as a specie will live " forever ". Intelligence definitely has the greatest potential of all strategies but evolution does not select for far distant future potential, it selects for survival now...

    * Oh and maybe the wrath of ASIMO :biggrin:
  11. Feb 24, 2005 #10
    How about my question though?
  12. Feb 25, 2005 #11
    "If humans are not intelligent then who is???"

    i'm not saying that human aren't intelligent, but their intelligence is minimum;
    evidence - until now we only use like 10% of our intelligence, maybe we will find a way to use the 100%; can anyone imagine how it would be?

    -i agree with phobos about his third point of view
    - "I'd say that intelligence and knowledge are different things"
    I don't think it is right because ur example shows how much they are related,
    they are complementary having what u learned which is "knowledge" it is in deed the work of ur intelligence; without intelligence there's no advanced knowledge.
    I say advanced because there are two types of knowledge:
    1- obervational knowledge (the fact of seeing and observing quite simple phenomena and ability to determine the cause)
    2-experimental knowledge (which needs a certain degree of intelligence, it's about analysing, and resolving complex phenomena).

    I say the first form is quite in our hands;
    the second one we are still a bit far

    - "Stone Age humans were just as intelligent as people today...they just had less scientific/institutional knowledge to work with."

    although they had less scientific/institutional knowledge to work with
    i don't think they were as intelligent as people today
    argument - "genetic algorithm" (ramollari)

    and i also say that relativity also takes turn in intelligence.
    They saw theirselves intelligent
    We see them less intelligent
    we are intelligent
    Next generations are more intelligent
    they will see us less intelligent

    I say it all started with simple logic statments - when verified - became knowledge;
    this knowledge reflected intelligence.
    This little knowledge they knew helped for the amplification of their intelligence;
    therefore amplification of our knowledge;
    and it continues.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2005
  13. Feb 25, 2005 #12
    Being inteligent is a great advantage for surviving. But actually, what is the determine factor to be inteligent? :rolleyes:
  14. Feb 25, 2005 #13
    i guess being able to quick analysis is the most thing which shows how intelligent u r!
  15. Feb 25, 2005 #14


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    This is how I see it: Life is massively contingent and there are plenty of stars in the Milky Way. These two cancel leaving unity. I added one because I'm optimistic.
  16. Feb 25, 2005 #15


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    Intelligent species and intelligent species like us, are two different things.

    A great many species on Earth would probably be counted as intelligent is discovered on another planet instead of Earth. Certainly, just about any vertebrate or social insect would qualify. What if we discovered the equivalent of worms or jelly fish, however?
  17. Feb 25, 2005 #16


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    Not sure if you're referring to me but anyway I'd like to qualify my statement: I mean intelligent like us: technologically advanced: No more than two at any one time in the Milky Way in my humble opinion. And while I'm at it, that Petter Jennings report last night about UFOs: Someone stated something about harnessing a million suns to create a wormhole. A million? Come on, I don't think there is a single entity in the whole universe that can do that. That's just me though.
  18. Feb 25, 2005 #17
    So if life is present, evoultion takes its course, would intelligence be unlikely or likely?
  19. Feb 26, 2005 #18


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    Well out of the millions of species on earth, only one that we know of has really crossed the line to intelligence. Therefor it would look like P(intelligence;life) ~ 10-6.
  20. Feb 26, 2005 #19


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    In an evironment that is complex and ever-changing, the creatures that can adapt most readily and "roll with the punches" will be most likely to survive. Some types of adaptation, such as morphological differentiation (animals evolving into larger or smaller sizes, developing better resistance to heat and cold, being able to break up and chew harder nuts, etc, etc) take a VERY long time to happen. Other adaptations, like herd animals shifting their home ranges and migration patterns as the climate changes, happen on shorter time-scales.

    Intelligence and the ability to communicate knowledge permit extremely rapid types of adaptation, such as behavioral changes. Thus, humans can enhance their chances of having adequate food by growing crops, they can survive in colder climates by building fires and fashioning insulating clothing, they can eat a wider range of foods by making physical and chemical changes in them (grinding, cooking, etc), and most of all, they can pass this information along to their children. Given this, we see that intelligence has a very high survival value to some organisms because it helps maximize their adaptability to the most demanding and most rapidly-changing environments.

    I believe that if complex organisms exist someplace beyond Earth, we should expect that natural selection will drive a progression toward intelligence. The most robust creatures (think of whales and elephants and bears, for instance) will probably not benefit as greatly from intelligence as punier creatures like ourselves, but they will benefit to some extent, and we should expect them to become more intelligent as well, just not as quickly as humans did. Animals with limited speed, strength, etc, (like humans) will benefit tremendously from the adaptability conferred by intelligence and communication, so we should not be surprised to find intelligence out there.
  21. Feb 26, 2005 #20
    Yeah I read that somewhere before that creatures with less physical abilities (speed, size, strength, etc) would evolve more....some of the animals that have defense mechanisms will never evolve in to intelligent beings because they dont need intelligence to survive...our defense mechanism is our intelligence
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