Saturday, April 10, 2010

What is Life???

One night while driving in Rio de Janeiro across the long bridge that crosses Guanabara bay, I saw the lights of the city Niteroi on the horizon with the lights from Copacabana beach to my right. The sight was spectacular. It was then that I uncovered a very important truth... namely, "What is Life?" and "What is Intelligence?".
The thought came to me at that instance, that the city of Niteroi which at that instance was a carpet of lights off in the distance, was pretty much the same as a human being. For example, the streets are like the blood vessels, transporting goods and services to the entire city. The government buildings were like the brain of the city, making the decisions that impact the city as a whole. The citizens were like the cells of a human body. A city needs teachers, engineers, policemen, doctors, nurses, lawyers, leaders, garbage collectors, etc which all have their equal in the human body. Then the thought came to me... what if a nuclear bomb were to blow up in the middle of the city, what would happen? Well, many people would die of course, and the city would go in shock for a year or so, but then in time, it would heal. Is this not parallel to a person who gets injured in a fight, or gets cancer or some other illness??? The cells in the body immediately go to work to fight whatever is trying to kill the body and in time, the body is healed, scarred over.
Here is the meat of this concept... You and I and most everyone you and I know all think of themselves as individuals. "I think, therefore I am".... NOT!!! Rene Descartes (one of my favored philosophers) would have been more correct had he said, "WE THINK therefore I AM". In other words, you see yourself as a singular entity. Wrong, you are really just a collection of cells that happen to be living together in a society that you mistakenly consider as a singular entity. You are a city of 75 trillion individual living cells. Think about it.. any one of the 75 trillion cells can be extracted from your body and kept alive or maybe even put into another body. So they are NOT entirely dependent on you. They are individuals that happen to be working together for the benefit of the society... that society is YOU!
And thank your lucky stars that all your 75 trillion cells do not think and act alike! Otherwise you would be a 150 lb piece of bone, or a 150 lb piece of meat! It is because of the diversity of your cells that allow you to have all the organs in your body that serve you very well. Could you live without your heart, or you lungs, or your skin? And thank goodness our body has some cells that deal with the wastes!!! I just love my colon cells!
So what does this have to do with life???? Well, in short, I hearby postulate that LIFE is found in ANY self-sustaining system. No doubt you would consider yourself "ALIVE". But I also believe that a city is LIFE! An eco-system is also ALIVE! A computer is ALIVE! Your car is ALIVE! (now you know why I use the penname Mostinsane!) Bottom line is that anything that can be considered a system that has an input and an output that reacts in some manner when you stimulate it, is ALIVE!
That said, I will also postulate that all things that are alive have INTELLIGENCE! I believe that a simple machine has intelligence. It is very very basic and simple, but it is intelligence none the less. Plants all have intelligence. Animals all have intelligence, every thing from the single celled protozoa to the most educated scientist. They all have intelligence. They all have varying degrees of intelligence obviously, but it is still intelligence. A city, a country, a planet of living things all are intelligent. Let me go back to the example of the city of Niteroi... The leaders of the city debate in their local congress on the direction the city must go. Is that not like the neurons in your head that debate about a decision to make? You could say that some of your neurons or clumps of neurons are conservative and some are liberal and you have internal conflicts in the same way congress does. If only C-Span could cover our internal conflicts as well! And in the end, a decision in congress is made and the city then follows. And as a result of that decision, the city either prospers or fails. I am sure you can see the same corollary with the decisions we make everyday of our lives. Yes, a city has intelligence. A country has intelligence. A planet of people have intelligence. And yes, these are all living organisms as well!

Now think about it... this is a basic concept that you must understand if you are going to understand the more advanced concepts I will propose in the future!


1 comment:

  1. Not necessarily. You say that any self sustaining system is considered alive. What about something as simple as a couch, or as complex as a skyscraper? They sustain themselves, but neither of them have any intelligence whatsoever. And you said that anything with intelligence is alive. If neither of them have any intelligence, then they aren't alive, now are they?

    I looked up on the definition of intelligence:

    1.capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc.
    2.manifestation of a high mental capacity: He writes with intelligence and wit.
    3.the faculty of understanding.
    4.knowledge of an event, circumstance, etc., received or imparted; news; information.
    5.the gathering or distribution of information, esp. secret information.
    a.information about an enemy or a potential enemy.
    b.the evaluated conclusions drawn from such information. organization or agency engaged in gathering such information: military intelligence; naval intelligence.
    7.interchange of information: They have been maintaining intelligence with foreign agents for years.
    8.Christian Science. a fundamental attribute of God, or infinite Mind.
    9.(often initial capital letter) an intelligent being or spirit, esp. an incorporeal one, as an angel.

    I believe that none of these match your definition of intelligence, so if a couch or a skyscraper are not any of those, then they are not intelligent, thus making "a self supporting system" a false definition of life.