Could We Be Smarter?

Could We Be Smarter?

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It has long been debated whether human intelligence can increase more than it is now and this is the conclusion that has come.

Intelligence is a quality that is usually valued a lot, probably because it is one of the aspects that stand out in the human species. The human species, like all others, is still subject to evolution, but at this point it is impossible to predict where our descendants will lead, since this will depend on unforeseeable random mutations and the action of natural selection, the result of each environmental situation Concrete. However, it is permissible for one to wonder whether intelligence can continue to increase. Or, put another way: Are there limits to intelligence?

Could We Be Smarter?Size matters…

Santiago Ramón y Cajal dedicated much of his scientific research to study the nervous system of animals, namely the organization and connections between the cells that make up the neurons. On one occasion he compared the brain of insects with a pocket watch and, similarly, that of mammals with a cuckoo clock; Different in shape and size, but very similar in terms of their basic operation. Certainly, it is not surprising that a bee, which has a brain that does not reach a milligram in weight, can be oriented and navigate the fields with the same precision as a mammal. However, the relatively few neurons that make up the brain of a bee do not allow it to generate a very complex mental activity, so it keeps close to the most basic instincts.

If intelligence that is capable of generating a brain is only a matter of size, probably the most intelligent terrestrial organisms would be elephants: their brain is five million times larger than that of a bee and more than four times greater than that of people. Now, in order to properly control vital functions, a large body needs a large brain, so that in mammals the size of the brain correlates almost perfectly with the body.

There is , however, a few exceptions very interesting: the brains of non – human primates is 4.8 times more than their share for their body size; The dolphin is 5.3 times greater, and that of humans 7.8 times. This indicates that once the basic needs for control of vital functions are met, this extra amount of brain is used to increase intellectual abilities.

However, this growth cannot be indefinite: it has a thermodynamic limit, since the energy consumed by the brain is extraordinary. The human brain only represents 2% of body weight, but instead consumes 20% of total calories; and in newborns this figure reaches 65%. Therefore, given the size of the body, a much larger brain would be energetically unsustainable.

In short, individual human intelligence is at a point very close to its evolutionary limit.

However, the human species has also followed another evolutionary strategy, socialization.  We enjoy collective intelligence, which is the result of the effort of a multitude of brains in communication, a cooperation of intellects reasonably analogous to that of the specialized modules of the mammalian brain, which still has a long way to go.

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