[Paleopsych] Intelligent Bacteria

Steve Hovland shovland at mindspring.com
Sat Apr 23 15:55:55 UTC 2005

I can't say why, but I am uncomfortable with trying
to use the neural net model to describe bacterial

I hope that the people doing this work will approach
the problem in a model-free state of mind, absorb the
information, and then generate a new purpose-built
model for this part of reality.

Steve Hovland

-----Original Message-----
From:	HowlBloom at aol.com [SMTP:HowlBloom at aol.com]
Sent:	Friday, April 22, 2005 11:02 PM
To:	paleopsych at paleopsych.org
Subject:	Re: [Paleopsych] Intelligent Bacteria

Eshel--Thanks for the papers.  And you're very, very right.  You  didn't get 
the credit you deserve for your work, which in many ways is light  years 
beyond most of the research that's cited in the World Science article on  
Intelligent Bacteria.
And, Todd, many thanks for posting the article.  It supports the  underlying 
arguments of The Lucifer Principle and Global Brain--that all of us  
individual social animals from bacteria to humans are modules in a  collective 
intelligence that follows the laws of a neural net.
The article you posted even supports the notion of "inner judges" and  
"self-destruct mechanisms" when it says, "some  network elements can boost the 
strength of their own interactions."   This vaguely implies that network elements 
can also turn their strength  down.
It's  unfortunate that Jeff Hawkins' model of the way the brain works hasn't 
been  added to the concept of the neural net.  Hawkins says that individual  
modules and groupings of modules in a learning machine have to extract the  
repeating patterns in their environment. They have to spot  repeating themes, 
repeating strings of signals that come in one  note at a time like music.  
Hawkins compares these temporal sequences,  these strings of beads strung out on the 
thread of time, to  songs.  
When  a neuron or a neural grouping gets the hang of one of these songs, it 
names that  tune, sends the name upward to higher layers of cells, then watches 
out for  weirdness, for signs in the stream of inputs flowing past that hint  
that the tune it called out was not the right one after all.  As long  as the 
melody goes the way it should, the grouping of cells keeps  quiet and lets 
the higher layers of cortical cells go about their business,  confident that 
their inferiors have got a handle on the key facts of the  moment.
When  the tune shows signs that it's NOT the one the lower cells named, then 
the  mistaken cells send up distress signals and bring the higher cortical 
elements  in to help figure out just what tune it is.  Once that puzzle is solved 
and  the tune has been properly re-identified, the higher level cells are 
free to go  about more lofty business--like thinking.
A  practical example.  You're laying in bed with the lights out and the 
window  open, pondering Descartes and Pascal.  You know the room well, so  there's 
norhing going on to distract you.  The closet door is slightly  open. A gust 
of wind slips comes through  the window. You suddenly notice a  really weird 
shadow moving  where the shadow of the closet door should be.  But it looks 
nothing at all  like the proper shadow of a closet door.  You're alarmed.  You  
drop your airy thinking and try to figure out just what in the world may be  
intruding on you-- a break-in artist, a Munster, a monster, or any of a dozen  
other frightening possibilities that flick through your brain.  Your hair  
stands up on the back of your neck.  You are scared witless, but you force  
yourself to go over to the closet door to check.  It turns out that someone  .left a 
bathrobe on a hanger dangling from the top of the closet door and a bag  
you've never seen before leaning against the door's edge.  The bag and the  
wind-swayed bathrobe have made the shadow of a very strange creature, of a  bizarre 
bigfoot or worse, of something you've never seen or even imagined  before.
Now  that you've named that tune (bag, bathrobe, wind, and door), the lower 
levels of  your cortex can go back to silently looking for other potential  
oddities, leaving the upper layers of your cortex free to agonize  over how 
powerless mankind seems in the face of Pascal's immense, empty  universe.  And 
other brain bits can try unsuccesfully to console you  with the meager fact that 
you think, therefore you am.
This  picture, badly as I've put it, adds a bit more depth to the elements of 
the  neural net that were first explicated back in the 1980s, the model I've 
used  since 1986.  Hawkins can upgrade your view of learning machines whether  
you're using my quintet of learning machine elements or Klaas  J. 
Hellingwerf's quartet of properties of a neural net.  
What  I've left out is something Hawins mentions only in passing--lateral  
inhibition, the competition that uptweaks some elements and down-tweaks  others. 
 Lateral inhibition is important because it's one of the  wrinkles of 
Hawkins' system in which I suspect the inner judges and resource  shifters--the 
windfalls that hit those who've got a handle on the problem and  the horrors that 
descend on those who don't get it--are  hidden.
My  quintet of learning machine elements, by  the way, is:
Conformity  Enforcers
Diversity  Generators
Inner  Judges
Resource  Shifters
Intergroup  Tournaments.
Hellingwerf's  four elements of a neural net are:
multiple sub-systems that work in  parallel. 
components that carry out logical  operations 
auto-amplification (inner  judges) 
The odd thing is  that these lists of characteristic are not mutually 
exclusive, they're  additive.  Each grabs a handful of the skin of a very big  
elephant.  It's an elephant I suspect Eshel has often  gotten both arms at least 
half way around. 
In a message dated 4/22/2005 7:13:27 P.M. Pacific Standard Time,  
eshel at physics.ucsd.edu writes:

Hi to  all,
The new paper in trends in microibiology is quite interesting but is  limited 
in scope (and references) it does not give a reference to our  paper on 
Bacterial intelligence published in Trends just 8 months ago. He  also does 
not give reference to any of Bassler papers.
Attached are  both papers. All the best, Eshel

Howard Bloom
Author of The Lucifer Principle: A  Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of 
History and Global Brain: The Evolution  of Mass Mind From The Big Bang to the 
21st Century
Visiting Scholar-Graduate  Psychology Department, New York University; Core 
Faculty Member, The Graduate  Institute
Founder:  International Paleopsychology Project; founding board member: Epic 
of Evolution  Society; founding board member, The Darwin Project; founder: The 
Big Bang Tango  Media Lab; member: New York Academy of Sciences, American 
Association for the  Advancement of Science, American Psychological Society, 
Academy of Political  Science, Human Behavior and Evolution Society, International 
Society for Human  Ethology; advisory board member: Youthactivism.org; 
executive editor -- New  Paradigm book series.
For information on The International Paleopsychology  Project, see: 
for two chapters from 
The Lucifer  Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History, 
see  www.howardbloom.net/lucifer
For information on Global Brain: The Evolution of  Mass Mind from the Big 
Bang to the 21st Century, see  www.howardbloom.net

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