Intelligence and/or consciousness- Feb. 2017
We think of a being as having consciousness when they have an awareness of their environment , respond to stimuli and adapt accordingly with a varying amount of mental reasoning or processing depending on the evolution of the mind/brain of the being.
We can look at single cell amoeba and assume that they have a primal level of consciousness, they have cilia which allows them to be mobile, they obviously assess their environment for access to food and manage to survive as long as amoebas survive. They have the capacity to reproduce, to digest, to eliminate and have biological functions which are directed by memory and some form of reasoning process.
As molds and algae and simple plants evolve they are conscious of their environments and have security measures to defend against predators yet are part of a chain of food consumption and are prey as well as predators to other sub-species. So one could say that fish are a higher form of consciousness and intelligence than plants or plankton which are food for them.
Within the fish species there is a hierarchy of predation and prey increasing with size and range of territories in which they move or migrate. Cephalopods or octopi have large brains and have adapted sophisticated defense camouflage abilities for survival, and have demonstrated advanced problem solving abilities.
There is a general acceptance in science that as water species moved onto land and amphibian animals became land species the levels of adaptation increased as there were introductions to different dangers and risks which had been heretofore unknown.
This caused an increase in intelligence and consciousness and brain size to enhance chance of survival. Had it not been for the extinction event 75 million years ago which eradicated 70% of species including the dinosaurs we would perhaps not have witnessed the same evolution of the human species only 100,000 years ago.
Humans have been around as homos species for approx. 2-3 million years and as Homo Sapiens for only the past 100k years with Homo Erectus and Homo Neanderthal having disappeared since the last Ice Age. 10,000 years ago.
We therefore have a very short history in geological time that Humans have developed technology and science to the extent that we are able to explore the nature of the universe and increase our understanding of our biology and evolution like never before. The exponential nature of scientific discovery and of the applications of technology to increase knowledge is leading us into realms of consciousness to which we could not imagine 50 years ago, and presage the development of artificial intelligence and the evolution of consciousness to unprecedented levels.