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Programming Science Technology

Artificial Neural Networks Demonstrate the Evolution of Human Intelligence 107

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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:21PM (#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?

  • Re:Now... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:30PM (#39646471) Homepage Journal

    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 @01:45PM (#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.

  • by Score Whore ( 32328 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:49PM (#39646769)

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

  • Re:Now... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:57PM (#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 CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @02:22PM (#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".

  • Re:Now... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PatDev ( 1344467 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @02:22PM (#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" [] . 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.

People who go to conferences are the ones who shouldn't.