How smart are insects?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Xmo1, Apr 29, 2017.

  1. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    It requires a hive-mind.

    There are examples of debate within a bee hive. When two bees (scouts) each discover a rich food source, the most convincing and persistent dance appears to determine the eventual agreement to swarm to the most promising site. This was proven experimentally on an island where two food sources were placed at opposite ends of the island, with the hive centrally located. Instead of swarming to both locations, all the bees swarmed only to the richest food source.
    Ants practice aphid herding (husbandry), and Termite societies depend on crop cultivation (internal farms) and air-conditioning. Most never venture into the outside world.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2017
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  3. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    No. As stated, complex does not mean intelligent.
    Many things in nature are extremely complex, but they are purely instinctive - built up over aeons of evolution.

    Adaptability is generally the criterion for intelligence.
     
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  5. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Yes. All of which has been built up by evolutionary instinctive processes. Neither bees nor ants can change their behavior in less than evolutionary time scales.
     
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  7. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    I agree, with reservation.
    Assume Hellstrom's world s true ( its possible), its not decision making intelligenge, but chemical adaptability of the hive. IOW the hive-mind is adaptable as a culture and takes advantage wherever there is prey they can overwhelm and which is abundant everywhere, which would have contributed to develop different strategies , such as a split pincher formation, trapping the prey in the middle. All this possible due to their flexible hivemind which may communicate chemically, and their programmed responses which may offer advantage due to their very versatile simplicity.

    I find it interesting that the ability to recognize quantity is present in many species, which would suggest a fledgling understanding of mathematical functions, which translates into specific action.

    But, in any case, by the real exponential function, insects will overwhelm humanity and force us to live in bubbles. Just a larger version of self sustaining hives, just like the termites.
    http://www.britishecologicalsociety...logical_Papers/100_Influential_Papers_003.pdf

    Who then rules the world.? Eee - Eee - Eee _______Helppppppppppp......

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    Last edited: May 2, 2017
  8. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    As I understand it there are many species who show great adaptebility , such as DDT, which now poisinous to man but insects thrive on the stuff. Some species like fruitflies have the abilities to drastically change genetically in one generation ( 3 week s) and "evolve" new defenses and skills along with some very strange (non-viable) hybrids.

    Insects are truly alien to us, like an AI in a bio-skeleton. OTOH, the octopus may have a brain that equals ours in sophistication, but is also an alien, evolved from a slug.
     
  9. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    Some intelligence, yes. At those minuscule quantities, the intelligence would be difficult to test, but I suppose it could be done: we could set then problems within their ability to solve.

    Each ant has a very limited range of possible choices, but it can think within that range; it can change direction, run away, attack, defend, carry food, carry eggs, build, dig, or whatever needs doing in changed circumstances. The complexity of a colony is impressive, but it's not the result of a singele guiding intelligence. The collective behaviours that culminate in a functioning ant colony evolved over millions of years, during which the individual participants remain very little altered from one generation to the next. That's because the way it has been working is so successful, it's not challenged to feats of invention.
     
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  10. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    I have a problem with this. Two problems, actually.
    One: instinctive behaviour, as well as physical configuration, also evolves and adapts to changing conditions.
    Adaptation is not a function of intelligence, though increased intelligence is a form of adaptation.

    Two: At some point along the evolutionary ladder, intelligence appears.
    It doesn't suddenly spring forth at 130 IQ points; it grows slowly over time, and differently in each of tens of thousands of species.
    Intelligence doesn't take the place of instinct, but develops alongside instinct.
    Not always easy to distinguish and classify any specific action as to its origin in intelligence or instinct.

    I think it behooves us to be wary of dismissing any other animal's behaviour as "just instinct" -
    or assuming that all of our own actions are intellect-driven.
     
  11. timojin Valued Senior Member

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    In order to survive you have to adapt in a more complex environment . That will require more versatility and exploration , exploraTION will increase options , that will require judgment which is some form of intelligence.
     
  12. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    It might require increased intelligence. But there is no reason to suppose that the environment of ants and bees will become more complex than it has been, nor that more options will become available to them. It's more likely that options will be decreased, rather than increased, for all life forms.
    A changed environment may become more difficult to survive in - as has already happened to bee populations and many other insects. If an insect species lacks the physical hardiness to withstand a rapidly changing climate, it dies. If the food supply or habitat disappears, it dies. Animals, fish, birds and insects have altered their migration routes, have moved north or south to a more suitable temperature, but if there is not enough food there, or the competition is too fierce, they still die.

    The level of intelligence required to change the environment to suit their own need takes too many generations to evolve to do them any good. Increments in the intelligence of insects are too small, and its application too unfamiliar for us to study.... except maybe in a controlled environment, but that would also be an unnatural environment, so the data is flawed before we even start.
     
  13. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Yes. Sorry. I have used the term 'adapt' ambiguously.

    Like in your example, insects and other simpler life forms evolve from one generation the next. The species adapts by individuals dying.

    The adaptation I am referring to is an individual altering its behavior when new circumstances present themselves.
     
  14. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Yes. I realize have used the term 'adapt' in a way that has caused others to misinterpret my usage.

    Insects and other simpler life forms evolve from one generation the next. The species adapts by individuals dying.
    The adaptation I am referring to is an individual altering its behavior when new circumstances present themselves.

    I've clarified intelligence as the ability of an individual of a species to have multiple options in its behavior. Distinct from a species changing its behavior over generations.

    I realize this is dangerous ground. I'm not trying to define intelligence, merely cast our eyes in the right direction.
     
  15. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Before going down that road, you have to distinguish species survival from individual survival. You are talking about individual survival.

    Large creatures have a lot of time and energy invested in their large bodies, metabolisms and learning. It behooves them to keep their individual self alive.
    Compare with a colony of a million ants. It is not cost-effective for any individual ant to spend much energy on its own survival. What is important is the survival of the colony.

    (Simplistically

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    A lion will die if it falls off a cliff. It will also die if it can't find and eat a gazelle (a concentrated, rich, food source). A lion needs enough intelligence to do these complex things.

    An ant colony will not die if a portion of its members fall off a cliff. It will always be able to find food because its requirements are simple. Ants don't need much intelligence to be successful.

    And remember, success in breeding is the key. Intelligence is only one means to that end. Not all organisms have much use for it.
     
  16. river Valued Senior Member

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    Really .
     
  17. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    On the positive side, by reproducing. I understand and agree with the distinction.
    Even here, though, how closely can we follow? How do we catch an individual insect in the act of solving a problem, inventing a new pathway, adapting to a new situation?
    Unless we set up the experiments to test them... in which case, we're not testing natural insect behaviour, so can't tell how often it might happen in the wild.

    The same fallacy has plagued our assessment of the intelligence of other mammals. Humans set human challenges and judge dogs, horses, cats according to how closely they follow human reasoning. What they actually measure is human-like-ness, rather than intelligence. Once we begin to understand how a given species naturally acts, reacts and interacts; what it's interested in and what sensory equipment it can bring into play, we make more accurate observations.

    Yes, it's clear now. The caution still holds: If you were plunged into an alien environment, you'd be bewildered and disoriented for a while. You might look pretty stupid to the space people who abducted you. But your life-span is long enough to learn a new environment and its rules. Insects don't get a lot of time to store and process long-term memory, to stockpile data from which to choose appropriate responses.

    I'm not actually disagreeing; just pointing out pitfalls in classification and assessment.
    We don't have an exhaustive understanding of "instinct", afaik; so should be wary of using it as a catch-all.
     
  18. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    The slime mold has no brain at all, yet can solve a maze to food. And this single cell organism has a sense of time (proved by experiment).

    To Jeeves point, its very simplicity allows it to go *everywhere", and lay chemical tracks with *stop-signs* to dead-ends, which the rest of the body will not cross. When all dead ends are marked. the only open road through the maze leads directly to the food source at the other end of the maze. It seems that the slime mold uses the mathematics of subtraction to arive at the proper solution (not unlike Sherlock Holmes)
     
  19. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    So... like... there is quite a lot we don't know how it works. Ratchet down the hubris, maybe?
     
  20. river Valued Senior Member

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    What of smell ?

    Smell.
     
  21. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    In a mathematically functioning universe, one needs to learn a rule only once (by any means). From that point on applying the learned rule is easy.

    IMO, organisms are tuned to the fundamental mathematical functions of nature. It is part of our own fundamental functions and properties.

    For instance, many species can recognize quantity (which is more, which is less). Not by counting one two three, but an abstract cognition of quantities, from which to select. This subconscious process, seems to work as well for Lemurs as it does for humans.
     
  22. river Valued Senior Member

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    The Universe is a mathematical function of .......
     
  23. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Define smell and you have your answer. Another fundamental ability of processing chemical signals in most animals (in one form or another). The moon-moth uses pheromones as far as 2o miles to call a mate. They were using scent as a wireless communication long time before us. It was just transmitted chemically.
     

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