There was once an extremely simple creature such as the mud mold (Dictyostelium discoideum) that puzzled scientists for a long time and whose behavior only began to decipher when the barriers that separated the different disciplines were broken until Molecular Biology and Physics shook hands, and also joined embryology, mathematics and Informative sciences.
This fable does not speak of talkative mice or rural rabbits, but of a myriad of different unicellular organisms that move independently of each other and that, globally, make up a unique being called mud mold.
But this capacity is only temporary and, at any given time, it may happen that all organisms are separated from each other again. Like that giant robot that is built by joining each individual robot of the Power Rangers together. Steven Johnson, in Emerging systems, describes it this way:
Under the right conditions, the coalescence of these myriad cells will occur in a single larger organism that begins slowly crawling on the garden floor, consuming decaying leaves and barks. When the environment is less favorable, mud mold behaves like an isolated organism; When the weather is colder and the mold has a greater amount of food, "he" becomes "them."
This allowed him to discover what was the way to solve the maze using only mold. And the mold achieved using this kind of intelligence, the same that guides the ant colonies or the growth of cities, an intelligence without a brain, which only born from the union of multiple organisms.
Mold, cells and AI
We still do not fully understand the mold of the mud, but if we did it, it would give us clues to understand the great mystery of human physiology, that is, the fact that all the cells of a body function so coordinated. As he points out Johnson: “If we could decipher how he manages Dictyostelium, perhaps we would also find the keys to our disconcerting unity. ”
This amazing capacity for coordination ad hoc It even led researchers to conjecture that mud mold cells could secrete a substance called acrasine or adenosine monophosphate, which was somehow linked to the aggregation process. And the mechanism that allows the aggregation of amoebas is based on cyclic adenosine monophosphate. But nevertheless, things are more complicated.
In a relatively unknown essay of Alan Turing, the brilliant decoder during World War II, addressed the issue of "morphogenesis," the ability of all life forms to develop increasingly complex bodies from extraordinarily simple origins. Turing had outlined a mathematical model where simple agents, according to simple rules, generated extraordinarily complex structures. "Turing's work focused on the recurrence of the numerical patterns of flowers, but using mathematical tools showed how a complex organism could develop without any direction or master plan."
The biomathematics of Harvard University Evelyn Fox Keller and the physicist Lee Segel they showed that mud mold cells could trigger aggregation without following a leader, simply altering the amount of acrasine they released individually. Experiments proved that mud mold cells were organized from below, without a centralized thought or brain. They are ascending and non-descending systems. They extract their intelligence from the base.
The study of mud mold behavior, finally, is part of a set of research that has helped transform the understanding of biological development, but also offers and will offer clues about such disparate disciplines as software design or urban studies.
Understand how systems change, how they evolve, in a word, how they learn, It also helps to design more capable Artificial Intelligence. In other words, if one day Skynet acquires awareness of herself and decides to destroy the human species, in the end, perhaps, she will have achieved it thanks to the strange emerging intelligence of mud mold.