📕 subnode [[@protopian/cognition all the way down]] in 📚 node [[cognition-all-the-way-down]]
📕 text contributed by @protopian 🔗

Cognition all the way down

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Highlights

  • You do this, and to your amazement the parts begin to join together into small and then larger assemblies, with tabs finding
  • Thinking of parts of organisms as agents, detecting opportunities and trying to accomplish missions is risky, but the payoff in insight can be large.
  • Perfect cooperation is ensured by the impossibility of cheating and erasure of boundaries between the agents. The key here is that cooperation doesn’t require any decrease of selfishness. The agents are just as 100 per cent selfish as before; agents always look out for Number One, but the boundaries of Number One, the self that they defend at all costs, have radically expanded – perhaps to an entire tissue or organ scale.
  • The key dynamic that evolution discovered is a special kind of communication allowing privileged access of agents to the same information pool, which in turn made it possible to scale selves. This kickstarted the continuum of increasing agency.
  • The central point about cognitive systems, no matter their material implementation (including animals, cells, synthetic life forms, AI, and possible alien life) is what they know how to detect, represent as memories, anticipate, decide among and – crucially – attempt to affect.
  • Instead of treating human ‘genius’ as a sort of black box made of magical smartstuff, we can reinterpret it as an explosive expansion of the bag of mechanical-but-cognitive tricks discovered by natural selection over billions of years. By distributing the intelligence over time – aeons of evolution, and years of learning and development, and milliseconds of computation – and space – not just smart brains and smart neurons but smart tissues and cells and proofreading enzymes and ribosomes – the mysteries of life can be unified in a single breathtaking vision.

Cognition all the way down

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Highlights

  • When two cells connect their innards, this ensures that nutrients, information signals, poisons, etc are rapidly and equally shared. Crucially, this merging implements a kind of immediate ‘karma’: whatever happens to one side of the compound agent, good or bad, rapidly affects the other side. Under these conditions, one side can’t fool the other or ignore its messages, and it’s absolutely maladaptive for one side to do anything bad to the other because they now share the slings and fortunes of life. Perfect cooperation is ensured by the impossibility of cheating and erasure of boundaries between the agents. The key here is that cooperation doesn’t require any decrease of selfishness. The agents are just as 100 per cent selfish as before; agents always look out for Number One, but the boundaries of Number One, the self that they defend at all costs, have radically expanded – perhaps to an entire tissue or organ scale.

New highlights added July 22, 2022 at 10:30 PM

  • In a phrase that will need careful unpacking, individual cells are not just building blocks, like the basic parts of a ratchet or pump; they have extra competences that turn them into (unthinking) agents that, thanks to information they have on board, can assist in their own assembly into larger structures, and in other large-scale projects that they needn’t understand.
  • One way to categorise and compare cognitive systems, whether artificial or evolved, simple or complex, is by mapping the size and shape of the goals it can support (represent and work toward).
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