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stuffduff's Journal: Rethinking Intelligence

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This weekend as I was digging for information about pacemaker lead extraction, and made one of those accidental, serendipitous discoveries that I found extremely interesting. The page I ended up on was http://snipurl.com.nyud.net/236gn [American Scientist Online]. This review article by J. Scott Turner on Mile Hansell's Built by Animals: The Natural History of Animal Architecture had in interesting image, that of an amoebic 'test' which is a structure built by certain types of amoebas, that is similar to a snail's shell, in that the inner surface is secreted, while the outer surface is constructed from sand grains.

What I found fascinating is that this organism, despite having no nervous system, none the less manages to store, act on and pass on the information necessary to perform this tiny miracle of engineering. When humans think of intelligence it is represented by multi-cellular organisms possessing dedicated nervous systems. This picture suggested to me that there may be many alternative organic forms of intelligence of which we are, for the most part, completely unaware.

If an amoeba can store this kind of information, could it be that much of our inactive and unrecognized DNA contains information that our DNA has collected over the lifetime of our evolution, that we just are too self aware to access? It could well be that all life is 'self aware,' but that we are just too biased to recognize it.

Then again, perhaps there is a resource here that we can harness http://snipurl.com.nyud.net/236j3 [PCWorld] or http://snipurl.com.nyud.net/236io [New Scientist].

Your thoughts?

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Rethinking Intelligence

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