Re: Diamond, Miller, Gould, Darwin: positive feedback loops

Date: Wed Jun 28 2000 - 22:20:39 MDT

Spike Jones <> wrote:
> > wrote: ...that was what I meant. In my personal
> > shorthand, I call my reading list, the "brain clip", holding rounds of brain
> > ammo which I fire into my mind . . . I know that's weird....
Texan intellectuals.

> which kinda end up with a notion Gould would like: contingency,
> or blind luck, based on location and fortunate interspecies synergy.
What other sorts of reasons would you expect? Some group randomly had genes
for better intelligence than others? Some group randomly had a more
technophilic and inventive culture?

> puzzler was sore. Why, for instance, did the process of evolution
> do so little with big brains? We have only a few really large brained
> species: cetacians, elephants, humans. Why? And why did evolution

Well, there _were_ a lot of other hominid species... Big brain equals
generalists, equals competitors for one niche, equals eventual monopoly.

> wait until so late in the process to produce large brained species?

Brains have costs. 20% of human food goes to fueling our brains. And our
females have a high chance of dying in giving birth. To a single child, who
takes _forever_ to raise. And if our brain is a conglomeration of different
modules, rather than a bigass general-purpose monolithic neural network, it
would take time to develop and accrete and integrate the modules.

Of course, when I think of elephants, the size of their _brain_ isn't the
first thing I think of... I assume you mean elephants and whales have high
brain-body ratios; their having large brains is in of itself uninteresting, as
they have large bodies to control. But then the next question to ask is what
are those species doing with the extra brain matter?

> And why did humans have large brains for nearly 100k yrs before
> inventing civilization? And why did it take large brained humans

Oh, more than a 100k, I thought. But some people think speech was invented
only 40K ago. Not that we have any clue. But... perhaps because civilization
was a bad idea? The fossil evidence shows that farmers work harder and are
less healthy than hunter-gatherers. I imagine farming was developed partly by
accident, perhaps under fortunate circumstances, and then gave rise to a large
population which could only be supported by farming (or pastoralism.) Then,
of course, the farmers and pastoralists can brush hunter-gatherers aside like
fog with their superior numbers. (And superior submission to military
organization, perhaps.)

> so long to get written language? This leads to the obvious question,
> how in the hell does technological stagnation occur?
You betray your assumptions. One might ask how does technological progress

Future AIs might ask how it took so long for all 'humans' to learn math. Why
don't all Americans know calculus?

-xx- Damien X-)

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:14:43 MDT