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Author Topic:   Spiders are intelligent
bluegenes
Member (Idle past 586 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 136 of 147 (447261)
01-08-2008 4:57 PM
Reply to: Message 132 by molbiogirl
01-08-2008 3:24 PM


molbiogirl writes:

That's not evidence. Please answer my question.

Why don't you answer mine? Do you want me to start listing the unanswered ones? You want scientific evidence of intelligence without giving your scientific definition of intelligence.

You seem to be the only person on the thread who's definitely claiming that spiders have no intelligence, and you're doing so on zero evidence.

Oh. I see. You don't want to do any work. You want me to do all the work.

I keep saying that I'm looking around, and have, as yet, found nothing to tell us whether or not spiders have intelligence. This could be because I haven't looked very far, but it could also be because no one actually knows.

As you very well know, this is a science forum. You are obligated to provide support for your bare assertions.

So are you. Brains are well known symptoms of intelligence, and if you want to assert that an organism with a brain has no intelligence, then you need to present evidence for that.

I present the spider's brain as evidence of its probable intelligence.

If you don't want to, then stop posting.

If you've got complaints, make them in the correct channels, either before or after presenting your first piece of evidence that spiders are complete automatons and your chosen definition of intelligence.

There are over 11,000 papers.

Good, you can link to a few that show us that spiders have no intelligence, then, because if there aren't any, you're trying to get me to waste my time searching around. Remember that evidence of instinctual behaviour in an organism is not evidence of no intelligence. All organisms have loads of instincts.

While you're at it, why don't you provide evidence for the rest of the list?

Tell me, apart from fuzzy logic, which was your idea, what on the list does the Portia not have?

Tell me that, and I promise to explain why spiders must do damage assessment on their webs.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 132 by molbiogirl, posted 01-08-2008 3:24 PM molbiogirl has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 137 by RAZD, posted 01-08-2008 5:38 PM bluegenes has not yet responded
 Message 138 by molbiogirl, posted 01-08-2008 10:33 PM bluegenes has responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19818
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 10.0


Message 137 of 147 (447276)
01-08-2008 5:38 PM
Reply to: Message 136 by bluegenes
01-08-2008 4:57 PM


See if this helps:

http://www.break.com/index/effect_of_drugs_and_alcohol_on_spider_webs.html


This message is a reply to:
 Message 136 by bluegenes, posted 01-08-2008 4:57 PM bluegenes has not yet responded

  
molbiogirl
Member (Idle past 750 days)
Posts: 1909
From: MO
Joined: 06-06-2007


Message 138 of 147 (447345)
01-08-2008 10:33 PM
Reply to: Message 136 by bluegenes
01-08-2008 4:57 PM


I've gone thru all of your posts.

Here are all the questions you have asked me.

Please let me know which you feel I have not answered.

I will go back thru your posts and list the questions I feel you have not answered.

Then, if you will do me the courtesy of answering first, I will post my answers after you have posted yours.

What about the inborn capacity to learn, the inborn adaptability, and the inborn tendency to communicate our knowledge to each other?

And would most agree that spiders can't learn from experience?

If a pet spider can learn not to be afraid of its owner, and not to react as it would in the wild, as I think someone suggested further up the thread, then doesn't that show a capacity to acquire and apply knowledge?

I've been googling around for a scientific definition of intelligence, but no luck so far. Can you help?

Isn't the nervous system part of the phenotype? Is there something known in biology that indicates that only mammals can evolve intelligence? Do you think that neurobiologists have an advanced understanding of spiders at this point in time?

Isn't it hard to define a point when animals can be seen as biological automatons, and when they start thinking for themselves?

For example, if I were to ask you whether an organism with a pinhead size brain is likely to be more intelligent than one with a nervous system, but no identifiable brain, what would you answer?

Damn good "program", and if neurological "programs" don't combine to make intelligence, what does?

Why don't you use your own complex combinations of neurological "programs" to figure that out? Do they always repair damaged nets? Would the degree of damage effect the decision? Can they make decisions?

So will they be intelligent by your definition, I wonder?

Why don't you answer mine? Do you want me to start listing the unanswered ones?

Tell me, apart from fuzzy logic, which was your idea, what on the list does the Portia not have?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 136 by bluegenes, posted 01-08-2008 4:57 PM bluegenes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 139 by bluegenes, posted 01-09-2008 11:25 AM molbiogirl has responded

  
bluegenes
Member (Idle past 586 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 139 of 147 (447457)
01-09-2008 11:25 AM
Reply to: Message 138 by molbiogirl
01-08-2008 10:33 PM


molbiogirl writes:

I've gone thru all of your posts.

It's good of you to bother. I was mainly reacting to your "answer the question" style of debate by pointing out that you don't always answer questions. Just as I've pointed out that you haven't actually presented evidence of what seems to be your claim, that spiders have no intelligence. I wouldn't mind this, because it's something I haven't found any evidence for either (I'd tell you if I did, I don't care if they're stupid!), but when it's accompanied by strong demands for evidence of the opposite, I have to point it out.

I'll try and answer some of your questions.

I think we may have been talking at cross purposes for a lot of the thread, and that could well be my fault for not being very clear, so I'll try and clarify.

Early on in the thread, you pointed out that the area of the human brain that's the seat of our intelligence doesn't exist in spiders, and I thought that it was a strange comment coming from a biologist, because I'd automatically assumed that that was the case, and that spider brains are the product of a completely different evolutionary history, apart from having a common ancestor hundreds of millions of years ago with some kind of basic nervous system.

The reason I talked about convergent evolution was meaning that "intelligence" could arrive along different lineages separately, meaning not similar intelligence, most likely, very, very different. I tried to give an example of likely improvement in intelligence along separate lineages within mammals by pointing out that both we and the dolphins must have increased our brain power since the time of a common ancestor, not expecting anyone to dispute this. Your comment was something to the effect that it should be easy for me to find evidence for that, which I thought odd, because:

(a) I assume that if anything with a brain to body ratio like that of ours or the dolphins was known in the fossil record more than 50 million years ago, it would be famous and
(b) There are known ancestor fossils along both lineages with considerably smaller brains than ours and the dolphins.

So, though I'm the first to admit to knowing very little paleontology, I thought it pointless to request evidence for what I'd assumed was common knowledge.

I understand your view of the spider brain containing "programs", and agree entirely that each species is predisposed to produce a particular type of web. However, that doesn't mean that a small amount of what might be described as intelligence isn't included in the program, because flexibility is a great advantage (if it can be fitted into half a million neurones).

What I mean by damage assessment and decision making in relation to webs is that if damage is fairly severe, there's a point when the spider must decide "eat it and start again" or "repair".

The reason I don't feel obliged to spend time looking for evidence for that is that I regard it as logically inevitable. Somewhere between complete wipeout and light damage must be a difficult halfway point, so damage assessment and decision making seem to me to have to happen.

Having said that, even if I'm right, you can probably still fit this into the instinct category, but I'd comment that it's a clever program, and it would've been perhaps simpler for evolution to have brought a bit of spider intelligence into the proceedings.

Now, agreeing that each species is restricted to its web building program doesn't seem to mean much to me, as it is just saying that spider species, like all other species including ourselves, are what they are, and are defined and restricted by their genomes. We can't swing in the trees with the athleticism of the chimps, or lift the weight that a gorilla might. We have to be homo sapiens and can only, by definition, do homo sapiens things, hyper-flexibility and adaptability being very much part of our character.

Looking at it that way brings me close to the O.P., but not exactly on sine's point for the moment (I should answer him) because I don't think instinct and intelligence are the same thing, if that's what he literally means, but that it's difficult to define what behaviour is attributable to each category even if we work on agreed definitions, and we haven't even got to that stage on this thread.

On to questions, I've said at least twice that I have yet to come up with evidence that will tell us whether or not spiders are intelligent, to which you usually reply that I'm not looking hard enough, presumably meaning that I should have come across all this evidence you're hiding from us which shows that spiders are not intelligent. I think this is where we are at cross purposes, and I'm guessing that you might be confusing evidence of instinct (which all animals have lots of) for evidence of no intelligence.

In searches like "spider intelligence instinct", I came across Portia a few times, and Larni put a link to an article on her. So far, I haven't found a better spider to try and make the intelligence case with.

Here are the claims I made for spider intelligence, and if I can explain these well in relation to the evidence in that article, that should cover most of the questions you've been asking (although I'm sure it'll provoke more:))

quote:

Spiders:

(a) Receive knowledge and act on it.

(b) Use fuzzy logic

(c) Make decisions

(d) Can learn from experience, so have memory

(e) Can carry out long term plans


(a) I think that's easy. Spider sitting on web receives information via vibrations that a struggling bug has hit the web top half, right of centre, thus gaining the knowledge that a meal awaits it, knowledge that it acts on by going to the area, and eating the thing. Same with broken thread and repair, so I don't think we need bring in Portia.

(b) You don't dispute this, but rather that use of logic doesn't require intelligence, using computers as an example. My reply is that computers require our intelligence to do logic, and spiders have no programmers. It would be interesting to hear other people on this. Can something use be said to use logic without having intelligence, anybody?

(c) Well, no-one decides where they're going to build their webs for them, plus the decision on whether or not to repair a damaged net, plus Portia's decisions on the best approach or route to her prey.

(d) Portia's the best for this, as she'll prefer a particular prey over others once having successfully killed it, and therefore must have it registered on some kind of memory. Also, in the island experiments, she'll try the second of two methods of escape after having failed with the first.

(e) Portia again. She'll spend ages planning an approach to a potential victim, and then might take hours to successfully execute the plan, apparently requiring the mapping of a route in her mind and, dare I say it, even imagination.

None of this, of course means anything, until we have an agreed thread definition for intelligence, and I doubt we'll get that, or conclusively prove anything one way or the other, but in the meantime, spider behaviour is interesting, so I think it's a worth while thread.

{ABE}Don't bother with my questions for the moment until I've answered any more you had that this post hasn't covered - please tell me what they are -cheers}

Edited by bluegenes, : see {ABE}

Edited by bluegenes, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 138 by molbiogirl, posted 01-08-2008 10:33 PM molbiogirl has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 140 by molbiogirl, posted 01-09-2008 4:07 PM bluegenes has not yet responded
 Message 141 by molbiogirl, posted 01-09-2008 7:36 PM bluegenes has not yet responded

  
molbiogirl
Member (Idle past 750 days)
Posts: 1909
From: MO
Joined: 06-06-2007


Message 140 of 147 (447511)
01-09-2008 4:07 PM
Reply to: Message 139 by bluegenes
01-09-2008 11:25 AM


Thank you, Blue.

I am going to have to postpone a detailed response until my tech support appt day after tomorrow. My service is all effed up. It comes and goes.

Til then.

ABE:

Briefly.

Can something use be said to use logic without having intelligence, anybody?

Believe it or not, there is a lot of info out there re: this question.

Try "logic without intelligence animals"

This looks good.

www.cogs.indiana.edu/spackled/animal_logic.pdf

(c) Well, no-one decides where they're going to build their webs for them, plus the decision on whether or not to repair a damaged net, plus Portia's decisions on the best approach or route to her prey.

I'm no CS geek, but this sounds absurdly easy to program. Taz? What say you?

(d) Portia's the best for this, as she'll prefer a particular prey over others once having successfully killed it, and therefore must have it registered on some kind of memory. Also, in the island experiments, she'll try the second of two methods of escape after having failed with the first.

(e) Portia again. She'll spend ages planning an approach to a potential victim, and then might take hours to successfully execute the plan, apparently requiring the mapping of a route in her mind and, dare I say it, even imagination.

Both maze execution and navigating a complex envrionment are easily reproduced in robots.

A reinforcement connectionist approach to robot path finding in non-maze-like environments
Machine Learning
Volume 8, Numbers 3-4 / May, 1992

The basic reinforcement algorithm is extended with a strategy for discovering stable solution paths. Equipped with this strategy and a powerful codification scheme, the path-finder (i) learns quickly, (ii) deals with continuous-valued inputs and outputs, (iii) exhibits good noise-tolerance and generalization capabilities, (iv) copes with dynamic environments, and (v) solves an instance of the path finding problem with strong performance demands.

Autonomous micro-robot “Kity” for maze contest
Artificial Life and Robotics
Volume 1, Number 3 / September, 1997

The method is implemented and tested with a microrobot “Kity”, with a size of less than 1 cubic inch. It is possible to generate enough rules to make the robot achieve the goal of navigating freely in a maze with a small number of sensors. Experimental results show the efficacy of immune networks in controling robots in restricted environments. Kity demonstrated the efficiency of the associated algorithm arrived at by winning first prize at the 4th and 5th International Microrobot Maze Contests held in Nagoya, Japan, in October, 1995 and 1996.

Speeding up Learning with Dynamic Environment Shaping in Evolutionary Robotics
www.eprints.pascal-network.org/perl/user_eprints?userid=232

…a robot looking for food in a maze-like environment. The goal is to get the food; the food can only be seen when the robot is on it; the robot has to perform a four steps sequence to eat the food; food location is randomly chosen every run; the target eat sequence is randomly chosen before starting evolution.

Your argument that we build robots so robot logic is not analogous to spider logic is specious at best.

Evolutionary robotics is able to reproduce some of the "behaviors" of Portia. Just because we build a robot doesn't mean it isn't similar to (or even identical to) a biological system. Evolution builds spider logic. We build robot logic. So?

We build genomes from scratch that are perfectly functional. In fact, they are indistinguishable from "real" genomes. Why not logic networks?

None of Portia's behaviors impress me in the least as anything other than logic driven (strict definition of logic -- not layman's version).

More later.

Edited by molbiogirl, : my intertubes are unclogged


This message is a reply to:
 Message 139 by bluegenes, posted 01-09-2008 11:25 AM bluegenes has not yet responded

  
molbiogirl
Member (Idle past 750 days)
Posts: 1909
From: MO
Joined: 06-06-2007


Message 141 of 147 (447569)
01-09-2008 7:36 PM
Reply to: Message 139 by bluegenes
01-09-2008 11:25 AM


Blue, I've just stumbled across a TED video that may pose a problem for your intelligent insect hypothesis.

Give this a look:

http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/145

PS The tubes just got unclogged again. I've switched out my modem and my splitter to no avail. It's hit or miss til the tech shows up Friday.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 139 by bluegenes, posted 01-09-2008 11:25 AM bluegenes has not yet responded

  
Quetzal
Member (Idle past 3980 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 142 of 147 (447627)
01-10-2008 9:06 AM


Intelligence Is as Intelligence Does
I know I’m coming a bit late to this thread. I’d like to offer perhaps a different way of looking at the subject of “intelligence” – without attempting to rigorously define what that is. :p

Someone upthread suggested that “intelligence” and “instinct” were two opposite poles on a continuum of capability. I’m not sure they’re necessarily diametrically opposite, but certainly could represent two distant points on the line. One possible way of defining the continuum would be the degree of “rules-based” (i.e., instinct) vs. “adaptive” (i.e., intelligence) behavior exhibited by the individual taxon in question. I am so totally NOT a neurobiologist that I may be talking out my fundament, but it would seem to me that all organisms exhibit a mixture of the two types, and their relative position on our putative continuum would depend on what proportion of their overall behavioral repertoire is composed of the one or the other.

As an example, consider the behavioral repertoire of a relatively simple organism like the neotropical chigger (family Trombiculidae), the absolute bane of every tropical ecologist’s existence. These tiny organisms lie in wait atop vegetation, then drop or jump onto passing warm-blooded animals (especially, it appears, ecologists), and either burrow under the skin or bite, causing incredibly itchy welts. From my close, personal (and often miserable) observation, it appears these organisms have an extremely limited, almost entirely rules-based set of behaviors: they can only move in one direction (forward), they wait for weeks or even months for a passing large mammal, etc. Although they may have unsuspected abilities, the vast majority of their behavior can be encompassed by a few, extremely simple rules. For instance, we can characterize their “hunting” thusly:

1. go forward until obstacle => up
2. go up until “up” = “down” => stop
3. when detect urea => drop
4. if drop = skin => bite/burrow
5. if drop /= skin AND urea = “yes” => go up until skin => bite
6. if drop /= skin AND urea = “no” => 1

And that’s about all. Obviously there are reproductive rules, and possibly predator avoidance rules, but they can all be reduced the same way. This would tend to put chiggers toward the bottom end of the scale (which at least gives me the satisfaction of knowing I'm smarter than they are while I'm furiously scratching the results of their programming). Primates and cetaceans, for instance, because of their extremely complex and adaptive behaviors, would cluster toward the “intelligence” end of the scale. I don’t know where a spider would fit in this, but my guess is that neurobiological complexity has a lot to do with where the specific organism would land on the scale. I have no idea whether there have been any studies that would verify this, but it would seem to be consistent with the robotics references molbiogirl has posted.

Does this make any sense to anyone?


Replies to this message:
 Message 143 by sinequanon, posted 01-10-2008 12:00 PM Quetzal has responded

  
sinequanon
Member (Idle past 972 days)
Posts: 331
Joined: 12-17-2007


Message 143 of 147 (447673)
01-10-2008 12:00 PM
Reply to: Message 142 by Quetzal
01-10-2008 9:06 AM


Re: Intelligence Is as Intelligence Does
A lot of sense.

The "spectrum of capabilities" is how I see it, too.

"Spiders are intelligent" makes sense when you consider intelligent as meaning "having the quality of intelligence to some unspecified extent", as opposed to not having it at all. i.e, it follows from "behaviourally got everything a human has got to some extent, however small"

One reservation I have is that lack of demonstration of intelligence does not mean lack of intelligence. For example, our imagination outstrips our capacity to act. We do not communicate or act out the full intelligence of our imagination. Intelligence could be like a Rolls-Royce engine. But if you put it inside a three wheeler, what can it do? Or put the most cunning criminal behind bars - no more cunning.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 142 by Quetzal, posted 01-10-2008 9:06 AM Quetzal has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 144 by molbiogirl, posted 01-10-2008 9:28 PM sinequanon has not yet responded
 Message 145 by Quetzal, posted 01-11-2008 12:45 PM sinequanon has responded

  
molbiogirl
Member (Idle past 750 days)
Posts: 1909
From: MO
Joined: 06-06-2007


Message 144 of 147 (447803)
01-10-2008 9:28 PM
Reply to: Message 143 by sinequanon
01-10-2008 12:00 PM


Re: Intelligence Is as Intelligence Does
"Spiders are intelligent" makes sense when you consider intelligent as meaning "having the quality of intelligence to some unspecified extent", as opposed to not having it at all. i.e, it follows from "behaviourally got everything a human has got to some extent, however small"

:laugh:


This message is a reply to:
 Message 143 by sinequanon, posted 01-10-2008 12:00 PM sinequanon has not yet responded

  
Quetzal
Member (Idle past 3980 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 145 of 147 (447929)
01-11-2008 12:45 PM
Reply to: Message 143 by sinequanon
01-10-2008 12:00 PM


Re: Intelligence Is as Intelligence Does
"Spiders are intelligent" makes sense when you consider intelligent as meaning "having the quality of intelligence to some unspecified extent", as opposed to not having it at all. i.e, it follows from "behaviourally got everything a human has got to some extent, however small"

I'm not sure this follows from what I said. I noted that I thought that behavioral complexity could be correlated with neurobiological complexity. Spiders, with all the best will in the world, simply don't have the latter to sufficient extent to be positioned very far along the line towards the "intelligence" end. One example would be the observation that orb weavers and other web-spinning spiders seem to be highly constrained in their behaviors. You never see an orb weaver turning active hunter - regardless of relative prey abundance or optimimum strategy. In addition, web-spinners seem to be highly conservative in their designs, with nearly every species "specialized" in a particular exact type of web (which is only modified by the physical constraints imposed by the substrate). This kind of highly conserved behavior would seem to be indicative of "rules-based" rather than "adaptive". MBG's spider-bots demonstrate this kind of behavior - and I'm sure you'll admit that these devices are purely "programmed". Spider behavior may be pretty complex programming, but is none the less "rules-based".

One reservation I have is that lack of demonstration of intelligence does not mean lack of intelligence. For example, our imagination outstrips our capacity to act. We do not communicate or act out the full intelligence of our imagination. Intelligence could be like a Rolls-Royce engine. But if you put it inside a three wheeler, what can it do? Or put the most cunning criminal behind bars - no more cunning.

I have absolutely no clue what you're on about, here. Sorry.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 143 by sinequanon, posted 01-10-2008 12:00 PM sinequanon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 146 by sinequanon, posted 01-11-2008 12:57 PM Quetzal has not yet responded

  
sinequanon
Member (Idle past 972 days)
Posts: 331
Joined: 12-17-2007


Message 146 of 147 (447932)
01-11-2008 12:57 PM
Reply to: Message 145 by Quetzal
01-11-2008 12:45 PM


Re: Intelligence Is as Intelligence Does
I agree on intelligence being on a continuous scale. The separated paragraph is my own position, not intended to follow from yours.

I have absolutely no clue what you're on about, here. Sorry.

No problems. No need to apologise. :)


This message is a reply to:
 Message 145 by Quetzal, posted 01-11-2008 12:45 PM Quetzal has not yet responded

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 Message 147 by semilanceata, posted 04-21-2008 3:20 PM sinequanon has not yet responded

  
semilanceata
Junior Member (Idle past 3396 days)
Posts: 12
Joined: 04-21-2008


Message 147 of 147 (463868)
04-21-2008 3:20 PM
Reply to: Message 146 by sinequanon
01-11-2008 12:57 PM


Re: Intelligence Is as Intelligence Does
For what it is worth, I see life itself as being a form of natural intelligence - in that life, through evolution, learns solutions on how to be and how to persist (solutions that our industries often attempt to copy and imitate - see Benyus viddies on Youtube). Species can be thought of as 'hypotheses', written in specific stretches of DNA, and constantly being tested against the context in which they are embedded. It seems though that terms like 'intelligence' and 'technology' are reserved almost exclusively to the human race.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 146 by sinequanon, posted 01-11-2008 12:57 PM sinequanon has not yet responded

    
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