Speculations on Hive Minds


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SPECULATIONS ON HIVE MINDS - How do lots of things become one thing? Including ruminations on ants, weird sea creatures, consciousness and (briefly) MASSIVE ROBOTS.

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Speculations on Hive Minds

  1. 1. Speculations on Hive Minds How do lots of things become one thing?
  2. 2. “Mind” = Consciousness= Consciousness == Massive problemMassive problem for Science and Philosophyfor Science and Philosophy
  3. 3. Q: How does an individual perspective/identity arise from an arrangement of matter? (We are not going to answer this question today. Sorry.)
  4. 4. One Idea: Information Processing! The more complex and responsive the processing is, the more likely it is that “consciousness” (an individual perspective/identity) will arise.
  5. 5. The brain is a massively complex information processing thing, with around 100 billion neurons working together to carry out various tasks. Different parts of the brain specialise in different things.
  6. 6. Not everyone is convinced by this. • Suggests we are just like computers, but computers (so far) are not (apparently) conscious. At least mine isn’t. • Still doesn’t tell us how or at what point consciousness is supposed to magically appear
  7. 7. The China Brain  
  8. 8. Q: Would the China Brain produce an all- encompassing “China Mind” or not?
  9. 9. Ants • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOCR6WoBqIw&feature=related
  10. 10. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdnlA8xXCMQ&feature=related
  11. 11. • Individual ants are very basic creatures and pretty useless without the hive – and that includes the queen. • But together they act very intelligently, creating astonishingly engineered colonies and responding to their environment as one. • This is down to two things – extreme specialisation and extreme integration = act like one “super-organism”.
  12. 12. Siphonophores Ernst Haekel’s drawings from samples caught on the HMS Challenger expedition 1873-1876 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NWEdAkL92w&feature=related
  13. 13. Siphonophores are colonies of zooids (medusae and polyps)
  14. 14. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dhbBfZGfLQ&feature=channel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyw94R7Twxc&feature=channel
  15. 15. • Siphonophores blur the boundary between what is one organism and what is many • It depends on how you look at it whether you would class it as an individual or a colony • There are interesting possible parallels with how simple, single-cell organisms evolved into complex, multi-cell organisms... like US. • To an Amoeba (a single cell organism) WE are like a Siphonophore – WE ARE A COLONY.
  16. 16. Return to the The China Brain   •The reason why a “China Mind” doesn’t seem to work is because the individuals that make it up are already autonomous individuals in themselves – not specialized or integrated enough. •If they became more specialized and integrated so that they truly acted like one organism, it suddenly doesn’t seem so unlikely.
  17. 17. • It may be a stretch to talk about ant colonies or siphonophores as having a “mind”. • But what they tell us is that our concepts of what is multiple and what is individual are not as cut-and-dried as we think they are – it is more of a continuum. • Modern thinking on the development of consciousness suggests it is about interaction, feedback, dialogue – both externally (with others and your environment) and internally (processes within your own brain and body) • For an organism to be complex it must also be, at some level, “multiple”. • Viewed like that, it is possible – maybe – to see ourselves as an example of (highly evolved) “Hive minds”.  
  18. 18. That is all, folks.