How do you define intelligence?

I don’t think that would be a very sustainable colony model either, but I do appreciate the imaginative space dystopia you’re crafting here. Nice prompt for a short story. Fun side note, though: Soylent recently changed their name to ‘Huel’. This is supposedly short for ‘human fuel’ and does absolutely nothing to persuade anyone that it is NOT, in fact, made of people.

Man is just a clever animal. Cultural evolution is based on in-species ethnocentrism, self-centeredness, greed and competition for resources, and has spawned a culture in which the nettle really has a use. In the race for ingenuity, the rest of the creation is then trampled underfoot.
Your relationship with your cat is a good portrayal of the attitude of all mankind towards other creatures. If they do not understand human culture (e.g. manufacture different objects or tools), they are not intelligent. But people are intelligent, even though they have no idea of the cultures in which other creatures exist. It’s the hybrian.


on Mars? How could that be? No air to breath. No water. No food. No life except the vandals who have not learnt to live sustainably on this planet, where we have air! and water! and food!

If you have a two thousand year old tree - why not turn it into money - shingles and decking. It’s just a tree we can plant more.

I find the tree more intelligent than the logger.

PS you are a chemist working on environmental restoration. Why can’t we turn plastic waste (hydrocarbons) into ‘food’ as carbohydrates?


I didn’t say it would be easy. We definitely need some technology that hasn’t been developed yet in order to generate those necessities on Mars, but I don’t think it is impossible. While it’s not breathable, Mars does have an atmosphere. The Perseverance rover in fact had a small scale experiment that created a small amount breathable oxygen from the CO2 on Mars. Mars also has soil, even if it is not hospitable as is to plant life. Mars also has frozen water in its ice caps. I subscribe to the idea that terraforming could make Mars livable eventually, even if jt’s not terribly practical or scalable with our current capabilities. Some of these resources may need to come from earth (seeds, animals, etc.), but the goal for any extraterrestrial expansion needs to be development of colonies that can become self-sustaining and independent of Earth. For all their demonstrated destructive capability, humans are the only species that have demonstrated the ability to change their environment on a planetary scale, which is something we will need in order to survive indefinitely on another planet.

We’ve drifted way off topic from the main thread, though, so maybe we can drop this particular debate for now, or if you want feel free to send me a private message instead.


There’re many podcasts from scientists on how to live on Mars - colonies in caves underground.

Re: the Mars colonisation discussion - it is my belief that such an attempt would go through a very rough stage where, essentially cut off from Earth for long periods of time, the colonists will have a challenge gathering and processing all the resources required for themselves. Once away from Earth, they will be on their own.

And, because it is a long way from here to Mars, the colonists are for all intents and purposes self-governing. What is to stop it from turning into a dystopian feudal system, with a handful of powerful figures and the rest firmly under their thumb? And it may not even be Musk or Bezos or other billionaires who gets to be the dictator/strongman. I had a slight chuckle at the thought of people paying millions and even billions for a one-way ticket to Mars, only to become the hapless serfs of whoever can consolidate their power there first.

The power struggles and even bloodshed will be the stuff of nightmares for the people involved, unless there is a way for nations and corporations to send in troops to enforce order and submission to Earth’s political entities from the get-go.

I have never understood the fascination and desire to set foot on Mars as it is now. Mars is a bleak, dead, hostile world. I believe people have an inherent desire to connect with ‘nature’; the health and psychological benefits of interacting with natural elements (trees, animals, etc) have been well-studied. We will have much less of that, if any, on Mars.

Terraforming is a fun idea and I would support it if there is no native lifeform, and we are prepared to have the patience for the very slow, incremental process before making serious colonisation attempts. Lifeforms and/or chemicals to bind the toxic elements of Mars’ regolith, the seeding of and creation of a thick atmosphere, adding water, etc, etc, to make Mars half as habitable as Earth will ever be.

When looking at the cons which in my view outweigh the pros, I can only conclude that such an attempt at colonisation is not really a sign of intelligence, if by intelligence we include the idea of ‘wisdom’!

We would probably be better off building space habitats, the first ones close to Earth for supplies and backup support, etc, and expand from there.


It is difficult to find a definition that everyone will agree on, but I think it is about innovation. For example H. erectus invented the hand stone axe. That was novel so clearly they had some intelligence, but they don’t seemed to have continued innovating. We figured out how to attach the axe to a stick. Eventually we discovered metal and replaced the stone and so on.

As far as a colony on Mars. You need to consider all the ways that planet is hostile to life and when you do it is clear that it will remain the only planet inhabited entirely by robots.

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The Mars sidebar debate seems to be suggesting that invasiveness is a sign of intelligence. That Rattus rattus and Rattus norvegicus are more intelligent than the other 62 species of Genus Rattus. To a Rattus species endemic to an Indonesian rainforest, New York City would look like as hostile an environment as Mars does to us.


Yes, I agree completely that Animals (Other than Human ones) are as, or perhaps MORE intelligent …Who could tell me how Intelligent a creature is who destroys all that its life depends upon!?


Not quite, or at least I don’t think so. Invasiveness, like survivability as someone else mentioned earlier, would most likely benefit from increased intelligence, but invasiveness isn’t necessarily a sign of intelligence itself. I think cockroaches are probably a good counterexample for this, too. Highly invasive, not necessarily intelligent.


I ~love~ this one from @dianastuder; your comments resonates with this:

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Homo sapiens? Guilty as charged. Invading nature is how we exposed ourselves to diseases for which we have no immunity. HIV. Ebola. Zika. COVID.

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My 2 cents: the abilities to adapt and persist in equilibrium with one’s environment (in the broad sense, or with “the universe” if you prefer).

It is hard, if not impossible, for humans to think about intelligence uncolored by their own concepts of human intelligence. Human intelligence has been adaptive (and maybe eventually not so adaptive) for Homo sapiens. It would be the height of hubris to expect that it’s particulars could be equally adaptive for any other species. If we assume that life originated once on this planet, then we presently share it with millions of equally old and equally successful (until they’re not) lineages of life. The only way I can compare the intelligence of any two living species is either not at all, or as being equal in its outcome at any chosen point in time.

I’m on a similar wavelength here with the OP @diablo and with

I suppose this view could be seen as reducible simply to the ongoing results of the differential inheritance of adaptive genes, A.K.A. natural selection. And maybe it is. But any such reductionism should not be confused with a lack of appreciation and celebration of the beautiful and diverse manifestations of intelligence in humans and in all other species. For our species, at least, such appreciation is in the realm of personal choice and outlook.


You know trees share nutrients with each other and they often give more nutrients to seedlings of his own species. What category do you fit them in
Their was a experiment with fungus , they put pieces of food of fungus in coordinated as that of metro rail stations . It was amazing to know that the fungus use shortest distance to connect to every food particle.
Is this instinct or analysis of information.

What’s your opinion

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M, we definitely have immunity to covid, it’s far from HIV.

I saw some research that the COVID symptoms range across 6 levels - still don’t know why which person gets the no visible symptoms, and another is so badly affected. Also researching why more women are affected by long COVID

We wouldn’t have vaccines against it if we had no immune response, that’s what I’m saying, maybe you meant something else, there’re still lots of uncurable diseases, all with interesting history of becoming what they are now!

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