By Mark Ciotola
First published on May 17, 2019. Last updated on February 15, 2020.
Recall how the random action of microscopic particles and energy reactions acts as a “brain” to “figure out and solve” problems such as degrading free energy more quickly. Evolution (the random mutation of RNA and DNA) acts to figure out problems related to the endurance of more complicated life, typically requires considerable time. If faster energy degradation is favored, then it is conceivable that faster means of problem-solving and intelligence will have developed. This section will discuss how Fast Entropy encourages the formation of more powerful, efficient forms of intelligence.
Random Action Considerations
Random action intelligence uses considerable amounts of time and is relatively inefficient. Evolution is a form of random action intelligence. Nature literally keeps throwing the dice, producing random genetic mutations. Most are unsuitable and can even be fatal. However, all it takes is one successful mutation to solve a problem, as long as the bearer of that gene reproduces.
Evolution can take many millions of years to solve problems and can result in incomprehensibly large amounts of wasted mutations.
Even simple living organisms have developed chemical signaling that can respond to internal and environmental changes, such as the need for a cell to absorb more oxygen within seconds as compared to millions of years for evolution. Chemical signaling may be sufficiently quick to help an organism decide to move out of the sunlight into shade to keep from overheating. However, chemical signaling may itself be dependent upon evolution to adapt the way it functions, so its short-term abilities apply to only a range of situations, and cannot easily keep pace with unprecedented environmental changes.
Nervous systems are electric networks in more complex, multi-cellular organisms. They can perceive and relay information nearly instantaneously across many cells, and so they can make decisions quickly. Yet, their reactions are in the form of reflexes, so that their problem-solving is quite limited and inflexible.
The Development of Brains and Bigger Brains
Nervous systems can further develop so that they can be partially controlled and operated by a computing organism known as a brain. Nervous system brains have formed that can make decisions quickly. Such brains can change the way in which decisions are made and make more complicated decisions. Further, brains can learn, and so are more quickly adaptable. The formation of such brains is favored to the extent that they improve endurance of their entropy-producing species. Species with bigger brains displace other groups of less brainy organisms who degrade free energy less quickly, so there is a thermodynamic push for brain size and capability to grow.
Characteristics of Brains
The simplest brains, such as of a worm or insect, follow regular patterns of decision making that vary relatively little among members of a species (although there is some variation). However, even for the simplest of organisms that possess a brain, changes in environment and physical characteristics will provide a large range of actions. Imagine a fly deciding which direction to fly. Wind direction and the presence of predators can be from any direction, and so the fly may decide to fly in any direction. Yet, an individual brain does not appear to make decisions randomly, but rather it tends to act in particular ways with patterns of reaction These traits are often called habit and stubbornness.
The more complex a brain, the greater flexibility it has to vary its decisions from those of other members of its species. Memory becomes more consciously accessible. Processing becomes more sophisticated. For example, a simple nervous system may respond to one-dimensional changes of light intensity. A sudden change in light might cause a jerking reaction, which may be sufficient to escape from a predator. However, a brain may be able to organize sensations of light and recognize images. Predator versus prey can be distinguished visually. Plans for hunting or escape can be devised and improvised. Certain types of problems can be solved more quickly or with greater sophistication.
Further, organisms with brains have more complicated social interactions, particularly with members of its own species. Brains allow organisms to differentiate between other members of its species, so that organisms become individual, rather than just another member of their species. Preferences, grudges and hierarchy can be formed, organized and remembered.
So the development of nervous systems allow living organisms (and by inference nature) to solve numerous problems of entropy maximization much more quickly than they could have been solved by mere random intelligence. Therefore the formation of such “smarter” intelligence is favored under the principle of fast entropy. For example, the human brain learned how to make and master fire, which more quickly produces entropy from materials such as wood than mere rotting. The human brain’s next type of solution, civilization, would really put entropy maximization into the fast lane.