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  #1  
Old 07-28-2014, 01:54 PM
Timetrvlr Timetrvlr is offline
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How does one determine the intelligence of trees?

I don't think they have nerve cells as we do nor a brain as we do. Is all their future behavior pre-programmed in their DNA?

I've been talking to my little dwarf cherry tree trying to inspire it to grow taller. No results yet but perhaps encouragement will work?
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  #2  
Old 07-28-2014, 01:57 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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In what sense could the concept of intelligence even be meaningful, as applied to a tree?
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  #3  
Old 07-28-2014, 02:11 PM
Smeghead Smeghead is offline
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Originally Posted by Timetrvlr View Post
Is all their future behavior pre-programmed in their DNA?
Can their DNA determine how much rain and/or sunshine they're going to get?
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  #4  
Old 07-28-2014, 02:13 PM
beowulff beowulff is offline
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I think a shot of Gibberellin would be a better idea...
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  #5  
Old 07-28-2014, 02:14 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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I think you need to define what you mean by "intelligence."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Timetrvlr View Post
Is all their future behavior pre-programmed in their DNA?
This one can be answered, however, taking "behavior" in a broad sense. Plants respond to stimuli such as light, gravity, water, nutrients, and damage to their tissues. These responses are the result of the production of plant hormones, growth factors, and other chemical signals.
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  #6  
Old 07-28-2014, 02:16 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
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Originally Posted by Smeghead View Post
Can their DNA determine how much rain and/or sunshine they're going to get?
A survey found that 85% of arborologists believe that oak trees are naturally more intelligent than maple trees, entirely due to their DNA.
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  #7  
Old 07-28-2014, 02:18 PM
davidm davidm is offline
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Maybe what the OP is trying to get at is better expressed in terms of the amount of information in the DNA rather than the level of intelligence, although I suppose it depends on how you define intelligence.

You could say that trees have "behavior" in the sense of how they respond to changes in their environment.

Edited to add: Ninjaed by Colibri

Last edited by davidm; 07-28-2014 at 02:20 PM..
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  #8  
Old 07-28-2014, 02:23 PM
iiandyiiii iiandyiiii is online now
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Trees are smart, but they're assholes. If you want it to grow, you have to make it think you want it to stay small. Even better, make it think you're desperate for it to stay small.

Try this: when you water it, whisper things like "You're so cute and small, please don't ever change, never grow up, my lovely little tree". But then, when you're talking to your spouse/dog/invisible friend on the other side of the room, say something like this softly (but not too softly): "Thank god that tree is small... if the revolution comes, I can still take it hand-to-hand. But if it ever gets big, I'm worried about what will happen to this household!".

That way the tree will think you're afraid, and trees respond to nothing more than fear... and it will grow.

Just don't turn your back.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 07-28-2014 at 02:24 PM..
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  #9  
Old 07-28-2014, 02:27 PM
njtt njtt is offline
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Originally Posted by Ludovic View Post
A survey found that 85% of arborologists believe that oak trees are naturally more intelligent than maple trees, entirely due to their DNA.
Birches, moreover, are (with rare "savant-like" exceptions) the sylvan equivalent of drooling imbeciles.
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  #10  
Old 07-28-2014, 02:31 PM
iiandyiiii iiandyiiii is online now
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Originally Posted by njtt View Post
Birches, moreover, are (with rare "savant-like" exceptions) the sylvan equivalent of drooling imbeciles.
Birch? Please.
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  #11  
Old 07-28-2014, 02:43 PM
johnpost johnpost is offline
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only intelligent beings can communicate

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_c...ants_and_fungi

only intelligent beings can kill for their own benefit

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strangler_fig
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  #12  
Old 07-28-2014, 02:43 PM
Si Amigo Si Amigo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludovic View Post
A survey found that 85% of arborologists believe that oak trees are naturally more intelligent than maple trees, entirely due to their DNA.
I find just the opposite as the maple tree is smart enough to form a symbiotic relationship with humans by producing a sweet substance that mankind desires and thus nurtures the tree to keep it healthy.

Oak is good for furniture.

I like oak myself. That's what I have in my bedroom.How about you, Jimmie?
You an oak man?
Jimmie: Oak's nice.
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  #13  
Old 07-28-2014, 02:57 PM
RaftPeople RaftPeople is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
I think you need to define what you mean by "intelligence."



This one can be answered, however, taking "behavior" in a broad sense. Plants respond to stimuli such as light, gravity, water, nutrients, and damage to their tissues. These responses are the result of the production of plant hormones, growth factors, and other chemical signals.
and they respond to the recorded sound of caterpillars feeding, increasing defenses
http://munews.missouri.edu/news-rele...u-study-finds/
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  #14  
Old 07-28-2014, 03:33 PM
simster simster is online now
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There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas
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  #15  
Old 07-28-2014, 03:47 PM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is online now
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No tree (or cultivated plant) responds well to begging on the part of humans.

What may be useful is conveying an intent to cut down or dig up the poor performer if it doesn't shape up. Or if it's obviously dead, plant something else in that spot and watch it spring back to life.
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  #16  
Old 07-28-2014, 03:50 PM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludovic View Post
A survey found that 85% of arborologists believe that oak trees are naturally more intelligent than maple trees, entirely due to their DNA.
It was also once thought that maple trees were genetically predisposed to be poor basketball players.
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  #17  
Old 07-28-2014, 03:52 PM
saje saje is offline
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You need an Ent. An Ent would know.
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  #18  
Old 07-28-2014, 03:54 PM
Encinitas Encinitas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iiandyiiii View Post
Birch? Please.
The Larch.
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  #19  
Old 07-28-2014, 04:20 PM
gnoitall gnoitall is offline
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Wise words from a wise person:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Handey
If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.
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  #20  
Old 07-28-2014, 04:34 PM
Dag Otto Dag Otto is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackmannii View Post
No tree (or cultivated plant) responds well to begging on the part of humans.

What may be useful is conveying an intent to cut down or dig up the poor performer if it doesn't shape up. Or if it's obviously dead, plant something else in that spot and watch it spring back to life.
This video may help.
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  #21  
Old 07-28-2014, 05:11 PM
Valgard Valgard is offline
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Some people say trees are knot smart, they're just board.
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  #22  
Old 07-28-2014, 05:13 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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IQ is just the square root of the diameter. You'll find that most of them are saps.
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  #23  
Old 07-28-2014, 05:27 PM
Muffin Muffin is offline
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Use a measuring stick.
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  #24  
Old 07-28-2014, 08:07 PM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
only intelligent beings can communicate

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_c...ants_and_fungi

only intelligent beings can kill for their own benefit

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strangler_fig
Communication is just data transfer and requires no intelligence. Every cell in our body is communicating via hormones; they aren't intelligent. And even a virus can kill for its own benefit; again, no intelligence needed.
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  #25  
Old 07-28-2014, 08:21 PM
sich_hinaufwinden sich_hinaufwinden is offline
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I once had a tree that was completely impervious to infection.

So of course it started thinking it was pretty tough and it developed quite an aggressive attitude.

But despite its extremely tough exterior, deep down it was an old softy.

And that was the root of the problem: it was all bark and no blight.
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  #26  
Old 07-28-2014, 08:31 PM
njtt njtt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iiandyiiii View Post
Birch? Please.
Well, I said we were drooling imbeciles.
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  #27  
Old 07-28-2014, 08:34 PM
Koxinga Koxinga is online now
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On a tangent, this is an example of why I think it's very unlikely humans will ever discover "intelligent" life in the universe. Even on our own planet, there are modes of life so different than ours that it renders the question meaningless.

Last edited by Koxinga; 07-28-2014 at 08:35 PM..
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  #28  
Old 07-28-2014, 08:52 PM
Arrendajo Arrendajo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valgard View Post
Some people say trees are knot smart, they're just board.
And some people don't know their ash from a hole in the ground.
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  #29  
Old 07-28-2014, 09:07 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
only intelligent beings can kill for their own benefit

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strangler_fig
Most organisms that kill do it for their own benefit.
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  #30  
Old 07-28-2014, 09:09 PM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Koxinga View Post
On a tangent, this is an example of why I think it's very unlikely humans will ever discover "intelligent" life in the universe. Even on our own planet, there are modes of life so different than ours that it renders the question meaningless.
The term, "intelligence" has meaning. There might be a majority of creatures that have reasoning systems that are completely useless or bizarre so far as we're concerned, but anything intelligent, we should be able to understand and relate to, to at least some extent, since intelligence implies logic and logic is pretty universal.
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  #31  
Old 07-28-2014, 11:39 PM
Koxinga Koxinga is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
The term, "intelligence" has meaning. There might be a majority of creatures that have reasoning systems that are completely useless or bizarre so far as we're concerned, but anything intelligent, we should be able to understand and relate to, to at least some extent, since intelligence implies logic and logic is pretty universal.
Among whom or what? Excluding humans, that is.
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  #32  
Old 07-29-2014, 12:23 AM
ALOHA HATER ALOHA HATER is offline
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A tree could seem marginally intelligent to us if we watched its whole life on fast-forward. If we watched these videos of multiple trees, one might look more intelligent if it dealt with poor growing environments better than another.

There's no clear border where sentience manifests in an observable and objective way. But reasonable people will agree that trees lie on the non-intelligent side of that fuzzy line. (Barring unforeseen botany, anyway.) Intelligent systems selfjoin into being in organisms that are complex due to being made of really numerous and diverse elements.

So a tree doesn't have intelligence. An apple grove probably doesn't. But a large forest's ecosystem... maybe something like that does. Things like that certainly act like they have intelligence. Thank god they're slow enough to avoid developing gossip and formalwear.
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  #33  
Old 07-29-2014, 12:33 AM
j_sum1 j_sum1 is offline
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What??!!!!! Have none of you seen Avatar?

Ok. back to business.
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  #34  
Old 07-29-2014, 02:56 AM
Koxinga Koxinga is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ALOHA HATER View Post
A tree could seem marginally intelligent to us if we watched its whole life on fast-forward. If we watched these videos of multiple trees, one might look more intelligent if it dealt with poor growing environments better than another.

There's no clear border where sentience manifests in an observable and objective way. But reasonable people will agree that trees lie on the non-intelligent side of that fuzzy line. (Barring unforeseen botany, anyway.) Intelligent systems selfjoin into being in organisms that are complex due to being made of really numerous and diverse elements.

So a tree doesn't have intelligence. An apple grove probably doesn't. But a large forest's ecosystem... maybe something like that does. Things like that certainly act like they have intelligence. Thank god they're slow enough to avoid developing gossip and formalwear.
Not to mention an anthill. Any individual ant has the mental capability of an . . . um . . . ant. But collectively, could you say an ant colony is "intelligent"? If so, how would you communicate with it?
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  #35  
Old 07-29-2014, 04:09 AM
bob++ bob++ is offline
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“Of course I'm sane, when trees start talking to me, I don't talk back.”


― Terry Pratchett, The Light Fantastic

Last edited by bob++; 07-29-2014 at 04:10 AM..
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  #36  
Old 07-29-2014, 04:28 AM
Mijin Mijin is offline
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You know who the real monster is? Man...grove trees
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  #37  
Old 07-29-2014, 05:17 AM
TokyoBayer TokyoBayer is offline
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OK, I did an experiment: I gave a standardized IQ test to my tree with a standard No. 2 pencil.

After the allotted time, I noticed that the tree had not picked up the pencil. Normally, one would assign a very low score to this, but calling my friend, a professor of ethical behavior in plant, he suggested that this demonstrates an extremely high degree of empathetic behavior, as the tree obviously reviews to use a wooden product.

We can safely conclude the tree must be highly intelligent.





Or that the test is fundamentally flawed, but that can't possibly be true, right?
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  #38  
Old 07-29-2014, 06:16 AM
kayaker kayaker is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludovic View Post
A survey found that 85% of arborologists believe that oak trees are naturally more intelligent than maple trees, entirely due to their DNA.
Don't believe a word that pussy willow says.
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  #39  
Old 07-29-2014, 11:12 AM
Lukeinva Lukeinva is offline
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How does one determine the intelligence of trees?

Which branch of education are yew referring to?
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  #40  
Old 07-29-2014, 12:11 PM
Sparky812 Sparky812 is offline
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Originally Posted by Timetrvlr View Post
I don't think...

Sorry, you lost me here
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  #41  
Old 07-29-2014, 12:29 PM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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Originally Posted by Koxinga View Post
Among whom or what? Excluding humans, that is.
I need food to survive. The food is over there.

a) Go over there.
b) Purple rainbows.
c) Dance like a dervish.

I think you will find that only one of these is an effective strategy.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 07-29-2014 at 12:29 PM..
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  #42  
Old 07-29-2014, 12:35 PM
Chimera Chimera is offline
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I think I shall never see a tree
As smart as me.
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  #43  
Old 07-29-2014, 12:38 PM
tim-n-va tim-n-va is offline
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Even if you take the collective intelligence of a group they are not very bright. Despite this, they can be successful. To support this I offer the documentary film "Forest Gump".
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  #44  
Old 07-29-2014, 06:38 PM
Gatopescado Gatopescado is offline
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Of course trees are smart. Ever hear of one getting lost?
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  #45  
Old 07-29-2014, 06:41 PM
Smeghead Smeghead is offline
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They can always see what side of themselves the moss is growing on.
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  #46  
Old 07-29-2014, 07:21 PM
cmyk cmyk is offline
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“If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.”

–Jack Handy
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  #47  
Old 07-29-2014, 07:54 PM
DingoelGringo DingoelGringo is offline
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Originally Posted by Koxinga View Post
Among whom or what? Excluding humans, that is.
Spock!
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  #48  
Old 07-29-2014, 07:58 PM
DingoelGringo DingoelGringo is offline
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Originally Posted by Gatopescado View Post
Of course trees are smart. Ever hear of one getting lost?
Im my town there was a park officially called Lost Tree Park. as kids we used to joke about finding the poor lost tree, and getting her back to her mommy.
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  #49  
Old 07-29-2014, 08:33 PM
Koxinga Koxinga is online now
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Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
I need food to survive. The food is over there.

a) Go over there.
b) Purple rainbows.
c) Dance like a dervish.

I think you will find that only one of these is an effective strategy.
I don't think "logic" means what you think it means. In any case, by this definition a paramecium is logical and therefore intelligent.
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  #50  
Old 07-29-2014, 09:50 PM
ALOHA HATER ALOHA HATER is offline
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Originally Posted by Koxinga View Post
Not to mention an anthill. Any individual ant has the mental capability of an . . . um . . . ant. But collectively, could you say an ant colony is "intelligent"? If so, how would you communicate with it?
Excellent example. An ant colony could be argued to be intelligent. It could be considered sentient if it were able to communicate with not us but another ant colony. That would only be possible if the number of ants in a colony were closer to the number of neurons in our brain.

Remember, our intelligence springs forth from a pile of shit--the building blocks of our brains and bodies are dumb. Those building blocks are marginally reactive. Marginal reactiveness builds complexity through interaction and sheer scale.

For fun, imagine a "humanhill" where people cooperate as well as ants do.
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