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2005 Annual Science Report

University of Hawaii, Manoa Reporting  |  JUL 2004 – JUN 2005

The Evolution of Intelligence Under Environmental Change

4 Institutions
3 Teams
0 Publications
0 Field Sites
Field Sites

Project Progress

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is forced to confront the questions of “What is intelligence?”, “Under what conditions can it evolve?” and “How can we detect it?”. These questions
are related to, but distinct from, questions about the definition, evolution and detection of life. Detecting intelligence can be a difficult task, and instead of testing for intelligence directly, we propose a set of features considered to be sufficient for intelligence, and explore their evolutionary advantages and disadvantages under a range of scenarios. Two features identified in this research are adaptation to novel situations on individual timescales (i.e. learning) and transmission of successful strategies over generations (i.e. recorded communication), and we focus the adaptiveness of these features with respect to a changing environment. We hypothesize that certain environmental profiles favor the emergence of intelligent species while other environmental profiles favor the non-intelligent life. To date, we have created two distinct simulations that test the effect different levels of intelligence have on a species’ ability to adapt to changing environments. These simulations take into consideration the various characteristics of r and K-strategist organisms and a given environmental profile in order to predict the survival rate for each type of organism. The next step will be to verify the integrity of the simulations by replicating the successes and failures of known organisms such as bird or dolphin species on Earth.

    Kimberly Binsted Kimberly Binsted
    Project Investigator
    Sam Joseph
    Doctoral Student

    Cliff Tomosada
    Graduate Student

    Objective 4.2
    Foundations of complex life

    Objective 6.2
    Adaptation and evolution of life beyond Earth

    Objective 7.2
    Biosignatures to be sought in nearby planetary systems