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Slime Mold Demonstrates Primitive Intelligence

Looeee Re:Oh, for sliming out loud (40 comments)

Apparently my editor doesn't like white space...sorry about that! ;D

Here it is again, easier to read.

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I think that we need to take a step back and look at what we (and this article) define intelligent to be. The slime mold has clearly demonstrated
a problem solving ability - albeit to a very simple problem. While I wouldn't cheat off of this slime mold on my next calculus test, I would grant
that it's behavior shows some signs of a rudimentary intelligence.

I think that it would be interesting to see how "intelligently" a slime mold could handle more complex problems... what if portions of the maze were laced with a substance that was toxic to the mold? Would it avoid them successfully, or would it kill itself trying to get to the food? What if by going through a more circuitous route, the mold could reach a different type of food - one with more nutrients that would allow it to grow faster? How quickly can the slime mold to rearrange itself for these configurations? Can it "learn" to prize one food source more than another?

Again, this may not be displaying "intelligence" in the cut-and-dried sense that you are mentioning, but it would be a display of how well the various closed loop control systems that guide the slime molds interact with each other (for example, in the poisoned maze example above, how successfully do the "find food" behaviour mechanism and the "avoid danger" mechanism interact?)

But then again, maybe you can view all intelligence as a sum of how efficiently one's stimulus-detection-response closed loop feedback systems interact.

-Loooeeeee steps around the bungee pit and eats a steak dinner

more than 14 years ago


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