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I suspect there's a Darwinian bottleneck which means that species intelligence always tends towards the lowest limit needed for immediate gratification, competition and survival. In most environments that's usually going to be too low to make good species-wide strategic planning likely.

What seems to have happened with humans is that the limit rose a bit higher than usual, probably through reproductive competition - but not high enough to be truly smart.

Darwinian solutions are always short-term and instinctive, and more effective in the short term - which is fine as far as it goes, but creates a reproductive cost for the more strategic kinds of intelligence which are capable of planning ahead.

Long term solutions are likely to frustrate any number of hard-wired tendencies, and that's not going to make them popular, or likely, with individuals who don't have the cognitive or empathic skills needed to understand why they're necessary.

And so - most species won't make it. You may get a sudden die-off, or you may get cycles. But breaking out of that pattern is going to take a lot of luck, and some stray well-intentioned randomness.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Oct 9th, 2007 at 05:43:46 PM EST
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My response is long enough for a diary. Enjoy! :-)
by das monde on Tue Oct 9th, 2007 at 10:49:09 PM EST
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