Quick thing about Hive Mind

The article I’m referring to is here.

Now, the argument is that “Hive Mind” doesn’t really exist as the name makes it sound because it’s really just the collective reactions of the ants. They all respond a certain way because their genes tell them so.

Well, let’s look at it another way. Our brain cells certainly aren’t individually intelligent. Yet, place a bunch of brain cells together in just the right way, and boom, human consciousness.

See my point?

Kupek’s Den

Maybe. Maybe not. That’s the point. What if you did manage to place a bunch of brain cells together in just the right way (hasn’t been tried yet), and nothing happened?
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The mere fact that we are having this conversation proves that it does happen often enough to be considered a common phenomenon, wouldn’t you think?

This is basically like the problem of trying to define life: If it is another form of consciousness, how do we know?

I’m tempted to dismiss the phenomenon as just the ants acting in a group as their genes told them to, but aren’t our cells and organs doing the same thing? My liver has no concept of me, but without it, I’d die. My invdividual brain cells are worthless, but if I lost enough of them, I’d be in quite a bit of trouble.

Of course, the feeling is, there is no one “thing” that is comprised of these ants. You can look at me and know I’m me.

But in that case, it just so happens that my brain cells and organs are in such close proximity, and contained by a protective covering.

While our experiences may tell us otherwise, I’m having difficulty convincing myself that my brain is much different from what is described as hive mind.

And, of course, those individual brain cells of yours include all sorts of little bits of juice, nucleus, protein, etc. And without those little bits, the cell wouldn’t survive. And those little bits are composed of molecules, all hooked together, and without those molecules, the little bits wouldn’t survive. And those molecules are made up of atoms (mostly carbon) strung togehter in nice ways, and without those atoms, the molecules wouldn’t survive…

All for the want of a horse-shoe nail.

So, Kup, I guess that you’re saying that you don’t think your brain is any different from any ol’ collection of carbon atoms, like a big hunk of anthracite coal?

I’ll try to get Doug to comment here, but I think that the problem is confusing a single organism controlled by a brain, with a bunch of multiple organisms controlled by a societal order. I think Doug’s whole point is that you CAN’T compare ants to individual brain cells combining into a single brain.

I offer that a better comparison is to individual soldiers in (say) the Nazi* army, all mindlessly goose-stepping together, all mindlessly saluting together, all mindlessly following orders. My uninformed opinion is that would be a better example. Do you think that your brain is comparable to that Nazi army machine?

    • Footnote: My apologies, the Nazi analogy seems to creep up far more often than it should, but I think it serves well in this instance.

I’d have to agree with Dex’s analogy - ants are clearly individuals, it just that they happen to have behavioral rules which lead them to express certain “intelligent” actions only when in groups - just as you can give a group of soldiers an explicit set of instructions that NONE of them can either understand or execute as individuals, yet they can perform the feat collectively - all without us considering it to be a higher form of consciousness simply because it requires coordination. A marching band at halftime can be a thing of beauty, but it is NOT a hive mind, and it can be broken down into a set of movement rules that exclude the band members from needing to know what pattern they are forming in order to form it. That’s almost exactly how social insects coordinate, except that they’re born with the rules already in their brains.
One other fundamental difference between a brain and a group of insects is that brain cells have constant and predictable relationships to one another - they do not randomly associate, disassociate, and reassociate with other nerve cells. This is crucial for memory/learning, which is in turn a pretty darn crucial aspect of consciousness, however you define it. Social insect colonies do not LEARN as units, and that makes it very hard to argue that they should be considered conscious.

I’m not sure that what I think is important though. What I meant was that, for the folk who study this, this is the crux of the problem. Some would answer your question “Yes, absolutely!” and others would say “No, definitely not.” Is consciousness just brain cell complexity? You seem to say yes, but many say no–and not all of them do so because of religious reasons.
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CKDextHavn: Do you think that your brain is comparable to that Nazi army machine?

Why not? I mean, my brain cells certainly don’t stop to think out the moral consequences of the deciscions and actions they are participating in carrying out.

And despite your disclaimer, it really was inappropriate to use Nazis, because the gut reaction anyone has if they are comapred to a Nazi is “No.” The example would have been just as sound had you used any ol’ military.

So, Kup, I guess that you’re saying that you don’t think your brain is any different from any ol’ collection of carbon atoms, like a big hunk of anthracite coal?

That’s actually part of the point I am making. My brain is much different from a hunk of coal. But if you compared one of the molecules that comprised my brain, and one fo the molecules that comprised a hunk of coal, sure, there would be some structural differences, and my brain would have some elements other than carbon, but they wouldn’t be all that different.

My point is that you can’t make a judgement on the the whole based on the parts. The ants may be of low intelligence, but the whole may exhibit something that seems like intelligence. My brain cells can’t do much on their own, but together, they’re making an attempt to explain how they can be similar to a bunch of ants.

I’m not particularly convinced that “hive mind” necessarily is the same as my brain, but I’d certainly take note if someone tried to administer a Turing test of sorts to a bunch of ants.

Check out Doug’s comments in the other thread, Ants and the “hive” mind

The point is that analogies are analogies, and not reality. I can make reference to the mindless behaviour of a soldier in an army, or the individual cells in a hunk of coal. You can try to draw analogies to the brain cells. I think your analogy is hogwash, because the brain cells are connected in a way that the individual ants aren’t. Yes, the whole can be more than the sum of parts, but that doesn’t mean that a social group has intelligence.

It also doesn’t mean that a social group doesn’t have intelligence.

If you’re going to define intelligence as needing for the parts to be intimiately connected, then the ants would be ruled out easy.

But if defining intelligence was that easy, Turing wouldn’t be famous.

Kupek’s Den