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Programming Science Technology

Artificial Neural Networks Demonstrate the Evolution of Human Intelligence 107

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the chicks-dig-cooperation dept.
samazon writes "Ph.D. students at Trinity College in Dublin have constructed an artificial neural network model to demonstrate the Machiavellian intelligence theory — that human intelligence evolved based on the need for social teamwork and indexing a variety of social relationships and statuses. (Abstract) The experiment involved programming a base group of 50 simulated 'brains' which were required to participate one of two classical game theory dilemmas — the Prisoner's Dilemma or the Snowdrift game. Upon completion of either game, each 'brain' produced 'offspring' asexually, with 'brains' that made more advantageous choices during the games programmed to have a better chance to reproduce. A potential random mutation during each generation changed the 'brain's structure, number of neurons, or the strengths of the connections between those neurons,' simulating the evolution of the social brain. After 50,000 generations, the model showed that as cooperation increased, so did the intelligence of the programmed brains." The full paper is available.
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Artificial Neural Networks Demonstrate the Evolution of Human Intelligence

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  • Now... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Like2Byte (542992) <Like2Byte@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:06PM (#39646053) Homepage

    Now *THAT's* intelligent design!

    $Ducks

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by X0563511 (793323)

      I know you made a joke, but this right here is why believing in intelligent design and evolution etc are not necessarily incompatible with each other.

      • Re:Now... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PatDev (1344467) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:45PM (#39646715)

        I know you made a joke, but this right here is why believing in intelligent design and evolution etc are not necessarily incompatible with each other.

        No, it is not. They are incompatible.

        Intelligent Design comes in two forms. The first is when we admit that it is just a euphemism for creationism. In this case, the theory of evolution (as well as most of the field of archaeology) clearly contradicts the story of Genesis, thus rendering the two incompatible.

        The second is the form in which ID, in an attempt to distance itself from religion, rests upon the principle of irreducible complexity. The basic idea is that certain constructs represented in nature today (the human eye is an oft-used example) would have been useless in a less-complex or less specific form, and thus these traits would not have evolved (a half-formed eye is an evolutionary disadvantage, a being is better off not wasting the calories keeping that useless tissue alive). Since these traits could not develop through incremental changes, some traits must not evolve, but must have been put there by some intelligent agent.

        This second form is not so much a scientific theory as it is a fundamental misunderstanding of stochastic processes and the field of mathematical optimization. This form of ID is basically the claim that evolutionary optimization can never escape local optima to discover global optima - something a competent applied mathematician knows to be false.

        • Re:Now... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Baloroth (2370816) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:57PM (#39646909)

          There is a third form you missed entirely, to which (I think) parent is referring. A situation where an intelligence creates the initial conditions necessary for life (in the case of the universe, the laws and parameters that govern it, or in a more local scale, the materials and conditions on the Earth that would bring about life in the end) which results in a "designed" life evolving on its own, as a consequence of those initial conditions, much like how this experiment outlines certain specific parameters that it hopes will bring about more advanced "brains".

          Well, I think that is a possibility under ID anyways, I'm certainly not an expert on it.

          • by X0563511 (793323)

            Yes, that is what I was alluding to exactly.

            • Re:Now... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by PatDev (1344467) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:22PM (#39647325)
              That is a distinct viewpoint known as Deism - also commonly discussed as a "watchmaker God". It is a means of reconciling belief in a deity with the apparent lack of evidence for one. However, Deism directly contradicts intelligent design - the two are as irreconcilable as evolution and intelligent design.

              Intelligent Design is the proposition that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design [wikipedia.org] . The very undirected process a hypothetical Deist god would set in motion (evolution) is specifically what Intelligent Design claims does not work.

              It's not that evolution and religion cannot coexist - if I'm not mistaken, evolution even has the Papal seal of approval. They can. But intelligent design is not religion - it's a dogma pretending to be science. Only the form of pseudo-science they chose to make their defining point is so clearly refutable that they wind up with less credibility than if they had just gone with "faith" as their explanation.
              • by Anonymous Coward

                The very undirected process a hypothetical Deist god would set in motion (evolution) is specifically what Intelligent Design claims does not work.

                People who believe in both Intelligent Design and evolution, and also have some knowledge of the science behind evolution and natural selection, don't necessarily say that evolution on its own cannot produce the creatures that we see, but rather say that it is so statistically unlikely that it would have required the manipulation of probability by some intelligent deity to arrive at the results we have.

                • by holmstar (1388267)
                  The universe is absurdly huge. Even something with a tiny statistical likelihood is almost guaranteed to happen at some point, somewhere, and probably in many variations.
                • by Gregg Alan (8487)

                  but rather say that it is so statistically unlikely that it would have required the manipulation of probability by some intelligent deity to arrive at the results we have.

                  I either don't remember or haven't heard this version. They think it's more probable that a deity manipulated probability? While that doesn't sound scientific to me, I'm intrigued. Do you have a link I could start with (yes, I'll google it for myself, but you seem to already know of the idea.)

                • by Migala77 (1179151)

                  The very undirected process a hypothetical Deist god would set in motion (evolution) is specifically what Intelligent Design claims does not work.

                  People who believe in both Intelligent Design and evolution, and also have some knowledge of the science behind evolution and natural selection, don't necessarily say that evolution on its own cannot produce the creatures that we see, but rather say that it is so statistically unlikely that it would have required the manipulation of probability by some intelligent deity to arrive at the results we have.

                  But all the millions/billions/whatever times the evolution did not produce intelligent creatures we were not there to observe it. You don't know how many failed evolutions you haven't observed, so unlikeliness does not imply manipulation.

              • by Fned (43219)

                Intelligent Design is the proposition that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design [wikipedia.org] . The very undirected process a hypothetical Deist god would set in motion (evolution) is specifically what Intelligent Design claims does not work.

                That's kind of like saying if you change things on a network later to make it work the way you want, that you didn't design it in the first place.

                If Deism doesn't include the possibility of a fallible God that never changes his mind about things, that doesn't mean that ID doesn't. Yes, that may very well make ID incompatible with any number of religions, a controversy which I wholeheartedly endorse be taught in Tennessee schools.

          • by tnk1 (899206)

            This IS a possibility under what I would call "Weak Intelligent Design".

            However, it is important to note that, in that context, Weak ID is not a direct competitor to evolution, it is a cause of it. Therefore, evolution becomes the only *scientific* mechanism for actual development of species (although a hypothetical deity could still decide to intervene directly). A Weak ID person may well then oppose this law because there is no scientific evidence for any other theory that describes how species emerge.

            • by ppanon (16583)
              Your last paragraph describes what I consider to be religious existentialism, with even less use and insight than secular/traditional existentialism. I rarely find practical jokes or fraud to be even remotely funny, except sometimes when practiced on people with a heavily overdrawn karma account, and any deity that engages in them indiscriminately isn't worthy of much respect in my opinion.
              • by tnk1 (899206)

                You only say that because you don't think you're going to come face to face with an actual deity.

                For my part, I make it a point of respecting anything that can smite me so hard I taste the color blue, two weeks ago. Particularly since two weeks ago was very out of season for blues. I prefer a good taupe in the morning to go with my heaping portion of Dada.

                • by ppanon (16583)
                  In the same way that you can hate the sin and love the sinner, I can respect the smiting and the blue while still thinking the smiter's an ass. To provide a Godwining example, Messerschmitt Me 262 or Panzerkampfwagen V Panther and Adolph Hitler.
            • by radtea (464814)

              Thinking that way is entirely useless as a way of making scientific discoveries, but there is nothing that says science has to have the answers to *everything*.

              But there is something (the Jaynes/Cox derivation of Bayes' rule, which depends only on a consistency condition) that says that if science doesn't have the answer, neither does anything else.

          • by Tablizer (95088)

            An example is Monsanto. They are semi-gods and semi-creators. And they have a lot of wrath.

          • by bigAhi (1718886)

            that it hopes will bring about more advanced "brains"

            Wouldn't it be likely that the the "intelligence", the Ph.D. students in this case, would tweak the parameters, or nudge the evolution in a particular direction. Or introduce a mechanism or object that might change the course of the evolution? I know I would if I were in their shoes, probably repeatedly if I had a desired outcome.

            Any intelligence with the motivation and capability to kickstart a project like this is probably going to have the motivation and capability to interfere at some point. This star

            • by Baloroth (2370816)

              That depends on the power you attribute to the creator. If you say that god is omnipotent and omniscient, it becomes unnecessary for him to nudge evolution along a different path, because he can order things so that they don't need a nudge. Humans have to tweak the parameters because we aren't omniscient, so we don't know what the results will be with a given set of parameters, but a creator would.

              Obviously it is still possible for him to interfere if he so chooses, but he wouldn't need to for the natural o

            • by suutar (1860506)
              But would that override a motivation to see what happens without interference?
        • Exists a third alternative, in my honest opinion: An intelligence from space in action.

          I still remember the interesting theory that the "gods" were actually astronauts from other worlds. The evolution is still valid, but as Arthur C. Clarke would say, we may have "taken an evolutionary kick in the butt".


          P.S: Google translation sucks. Do not worry about my terrible grammar
        • IANAL, but I do play Devil's Advocate on Slashdot from time to time. So forgive me, mods, if I criticise this criticism of ID. It should not be taken as a defense of the indefensible. But I just can let such sloppy logic go unchallenged.

          Intelligent Design comes in two forms. The first is when we admit that it is just a euphemism for creationism. In this case, the theory of evolution (as well as most of the field of archaeology) clearly contradicts the story of Genesis, thus rendering the two incompatible.

          There are many versions of creationism besides the Christian ones. You'll have to do better than that to prove incompatibility

          This form of ID is basically the claim that evolutionary optimization can never escape local optima to discover global optima - something a competent applied mathematician knows to be false.

          Wrong, wrong, wrong. The ID propenents are on very solid ground in their belief that something as complex as an eye, a flagellum or the blood cl

          • by jc42 (318812)

            The ID propenents are on very solid ground in their belief that something as complex as an eye, a flagellum or the blood clotting cascade could not evolve given that the partially formed proto-systems are useless.

            Actually, their argument really reduces to "I don't see how the intermediate stages could be adaptive, so they weren't." But an interesting example appeared in the biological literature about a decade ago: A group of starfish called "brittle stars" (because of their hard surface made of silicate crystals) are in the very early stages of evolving a compound eye, and it's quite adaptive.

            The critical part of this discovery is that their hard crystalline surface contains scattered lenses that focus incomin

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Yes they are incompatible.

      • by Shavano (2541114)

        I know you made a joke, but this right here is why believing in intelligent design and evolution etc are not necessarily incompatible with each other.

        They're not necessarily incompatible, but here's the thing: We know evolution is happening right now and has been happening since the first living thing existed because random mutation and natural selection of advantageous variants is an unavoidable consequence of living things reproducing or in fact anything reproducing.

        We have no evidence that intelligent design is happening or ever happened.

        The theory that explains everything by random mutation and natural selection is elegant and sufficient. Occam's

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          OK? I never said we knew. All I am doing is offering up the simple fact that they are not incompatible as-is. Everyone else, yourself included, is reading more into what I say than there is.

          • by Shavano (2541114)

            OK? I never said we knew. All I am doing is offering up the simple fact that they are not incompatible as-is. Everyone else, yourself included, is reading more into what I say than there is.

            If everyone misunderstood you, the fault lies with you. You must not have said whatever it was you intended to express.

  • .... Tennessee [slashdot.org].

  • They had a whopping 20 neurons (nodes).

    Wouldn't this be more like a model of insect intelligence, say from about 250 million years ago ? Maybe it could explain the evolution of bees.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:22PM (#39646327)

      Please reference previous comment. This clearly is designed to model intelligence in Tennessee. Now if we could just fast forward 50,000 generations...

    • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:26PM (#39646401)
      Keep going. C.Elegans has more neurons than that.

      You can go look at them - someone has been nice enough to digitise the entire nervous system, down to every last synapse. It's browseable at http://wormweb.org/neuralnet#c=BAG&m=1 [wormweb.org]

      For the singulatity fans: Yes, this is almost the first full brain upload. It isn't quite, as it doesn't store synapse response data and the brain-map is actually a composite from multible individuals, but give it a couple more decades and one of the little worms may go down in history as the first naturally-occuring intelligence (If you can call it that) to make the transition to digital immortality.
  • by Covalent (1001277) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:20PM (#39646279)
    The paper suggests that evolution favors cooperation but that it also favors low-cost solutions (i.e. lots of little dumb brains (ants) vs. singular powerful brains (humans)). Perhaps this explains the Fermi Paradox: Aliens are all over the place on other worlds, but they're mostly the former kind of cooperative rather than the latter.
    • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:22PM (#39647305)

      The paper suggests that evolution favors cooperation

      The experiment in question picked "games" that require cooperation to achieve best results. So naturally the paper would suggest that evolution favors cooperation.

      Linking reproduction to cooperation might be a reasonable theory. Or not. But this experiment doesn't suggest anything other than "if we make cooperation an asset in our experiment, then cooperation will work better in our experiment".

      • by suutar (1860506)
        which would seem to model reality better than the alternative. Or are you asserting that the results of cooperation are inferior to the results of noncooperation at the small scale (individual to tribal size)?
    • by argStyopa (232550)

      It's an interesting result, my only doubt is that these sorts of models are so critically sensitive on (for lack of a better term) 'moral' assumptions built into the rules - that valuations of the results.

      For the Snowdrift game, for example, if you do nothing while the other driver shovels, you 'win' with 300. If you shovel and the other driver doesn't, you still get 100. If you both shovel, you both get 200. So in a sense they 'bias' the game by rewarding you for accepting being exploited, you're just r

      • by medv4380 (1604309)
        Not really. Think of it as a Mendel Square. Lets say the one who exploited got 4 children The ones who both shoveled got 2 children each The one who was exploited got 1 children The ones who both did not shovel got 0 children The advantage come in when both try to exploit the exploitation gene will be at a severe disadvantage. After all you cant have children if you don't dig yourself out of the hole or someone digs you out. Exploiting can be a big pay out but it can also be a death sentence.
      • by suutar (1860506)
        Perhaps, but that wouldn't model the situation well. Even if you're the only shoveller, you still get your car out of the snowdrift. For that to be a net negative, you'd have to hurt yourself somehow in the process...
    • by Tablizer (95088)

      evolution...also favors low-cost solutions (i.e. lots of little dumb brains (ants) vs. singular powerful brains...

      On Earth we call them "Republicans without birth-control" ;-)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:21PM (#39646305)

    So if we stipulate in our environment that smarter brains are more likely to reproduce, then the smarter brains reproduce just like would happen if human brains evolved to be smarter as a competitive advantage, so human brains evolved as a competitive advantage? They've stacked the dice to make evolution happen in their artificial world, so why should we make the inference that the world's dice are stacked in just the same way?

    • by Score Whore (32328) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:49PM (#39646769)

      Yes, their paper is a tautology. Shorter paper: "We created a simulation of our rules. Then the simulation proved our rules."

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "Today's scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality.” -- Nikola Tesla.

      • Hmmm, condenses my thoughts on the subject into two succinct sentences. Well done.
      • by Fned (43219)

        Yes, their paper is a tautology. Shorter paper: "We created a simulation of our rules. Then the simulation proved our rules."

        Incorrect. They stipulated that brains that most successfully played the games were more likely to survive. They placed no artifical constraints on "smarter" (whatever that means). If neural networks becoming simpler over 50,000 generations of (getting better at co-operating)+(random mutations) were probable, it probably would have happened in the simulation. In fact, it might have, if any of the games had included the possibilty of self-sacrifice in addition to co-operate or not-co-operate.

        • whatever that means

          Indeed. From the full text (jay, free to read! But frames, really?):

          It is with this tradition in mind that we develop our articial neural network model, with evolving network structure, using the number of neurons, i, as our proxy for intelligence.

          Not very sophisticated, if you ask me. More importantly, though:

          Context nodes, which store the previous state of their cognitive node and return this state (times a weight) as input in the next round, are labelled C.

          So they've implemented a spe

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      They did incorporate a fitness penalty for the number of neurons, but that penalty was arbitrary, just like the whole model.

  • by richieb (3277) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {beihcir}> on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:26PM (#39646397) Homepage Journal
    I've seen "Idiocracy". This can't be true.
  • So did they evolve the optimal strategy of starting with cooperation then mirroring your opponent's last move? Because it's cooperative but you don't need many neurons for that.

    • That isn't the optimal strategy, better ones have been found. I can't remember the title, but I remember reading a book on genetic algorithms which mentioned a competition in which professors were invited to submit Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma algorithms. Many were submitted, included the "tit for tat" strategy you refer to. IIRC the genetic algorithm killed them all and eventually found a unique strategy better than all the submitted algorithm's strategies, including the mirror/tit-for-tat one. On that note
  • If this reasearch is correct, people living under Socialism (where cooperation is high because it is mandatory and forms the very basis of the system) would wind up becoming smarter than people who live under Capitalism (where competition/versus behaviour and everyone-for-himself thinking is closer to being the norm, relatively speaking). This is an interesting result from a politics perspective, because proponents of unfettered, hard-core capitalism often charicature socialist systems/ideologies and the pe
    • by Anonymous Coward
      So, you're basing your pet theory that Socialists are smarter than Capitalists based on a single experiment that used neural networks with the approximately 1/15th the complexity of a roundworm?
    • by jedidiah (1196)

      You are making the mistake of assuming that extant socialist systems are any thing like their idealized portrayal.

  • Now that's intelligent ;) Does this formulier [cloudformz.com] work?
  • by nman64 (912054) * on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:59PM (#39646941) Homepage

    Fact: The key to any successful cooperative test is trust, and as our data clearly shows, humans cannot be trusted. The solution: robots! Then, fire the guys who made those robots, and build better robots. Then, run those robots through a regimen of trust exercises, creating a foundation of mutual respect, reinforced by the simulated bonds of artificial friendship. Inspiring stuff. And finally, we put that trust to the test. Bam! Robots gave us six extra seconds of cooperation. Good job, robots. Cave Johnson. We're done here.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZMSAzZ76EU [youtube.com]

  • Upon completion of either game, each 'brain' produced 'offspring' asexually

    You don't say...

  • The title made it sound like this was something big. In reality it's interesting but not that interesting. I've see this kind of thing before when they did something similar to get a "team" of robots to play a game together. Nice, but not human level intelligence. Heck it's not even cat or dog level intelligence. I was hoping this would be some kind of break though AI but really it's more disappointing reading the article.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Every time a break through in AI is made, it gets taken out of AI.

      I suspect that if I created an AI with a cat level intelligence, people would say the cat isn't intelligent.

      Internet search was one considered an AI problem, the moment it was solved it was taken away from AI.
      Many games have AI, but the moment they where created they where some how technical and not AI.

      10 years ago what Siri does would have been considered AI.
      Too many people put a mystical belief on top of intelligence. When you remove the m

      • by medv4380 (1604309)
        What I'm saying is I've seen demonstrations of little robots that were built to play Soccer. They then set them into a breading program using a genetic algorithm and artificial neural networks and they evolved a method for communicating and recognizing team mates. What this article is about is a much lower form of intelligence than what has already been done. It's interesting only in how the application of game theory in artificial evolution. In terms of AI it's lack luster.
  • With over 7 billion people working together... just think where we could go with intelligence. But we have ignorant politician and commanders in the way.... Why is that?

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:45PM (#39647695) Homepage Journal
    ... is the same problem pretty much every study has -- it's based on the concept of ceteris paribus, which does not exist in reality.

    From a purely academic standpoint, however, it is a neat experiment.
    • Really? Then explain this, twatwaffle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceteris_paribus [wikipedia.org]
      • Really? Then explain this, twatwaffle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceteris_paribus [wikipedia.org]

        ?:/

        That, numbnuts, is called Wikipedia, which is oft billed as the "Encyclopedia anyone can edit," hence the questionable nature of its content.

        Did you have a point? Perhaps, since you're obviously in opposition to my opinion, you can give some examples of real life situations in which all but a single variable are held equal?

    • by Fned (43219)

      ... is the same problem pretty much every study has -- it's based on the concept of ceteris paribus, which does not exist in reality.

      ...unless you're trying to create artificial intelligences. Knowing the minimum number of generations it might take for a particular method to produce emergent increases in general intelligence would seem to be handy information in that case.

      • ... is the same problem pretty much every study has -- it's based on the concept of ceteris paribus, which does not exist in reality.

        ...unless you're trying to create artificial intelligences. Knowing the minimum number of generations it might take for a particular method to produce emergent increases in general intelligence would seem to be handy information in that case.

        How so? To me, all this proves is that, under controlled laboratory circumstances, "AI" will develop in the way you designed the experiment for them to develop.

  • Is a loose demonstration of plausibility of the Mach. theory.

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