Why does the brain have a reward prediction error? (Paywall) Mark Humphries wrote that story, I replied, he replied, I replied…
The dogs at a show could be ranked by…
- a small committee of experts (socialism)
- everybody voting (democracy)
- everybody donating any amount (market)
With the last one all the money could be given to the Human Society, for example.
Each of these three systems is very different, so they would rank the dogs very differently. One system would rank the dogs far more intelligently than the other two systems.
Here’s a list of books…
- The Origin Of Species
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
- A Theory of Justice
- A Tale of Two Cities
- 50 Shades of Grey
- The Bible
- War and Peace
- The Cat in the Hat
- The Wealth of Nations
These books aren’t equally useful, just like dogs aren’t equally useful. We could also use the three very different systems to rank these ten books. One system would rank the books far more intelligently than the other two systems.
It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around this. You’re trying to figure out how the human brain works, which I think is certainly a useful endeavor. But is it as useful as figuring out which collective brain is the most intelligent? What’s the difference?
The foragers in a beehive use costly signals to rank flower patches. A bunch of individuals put their tiny heads together to try and correctly discern the usefulness of a patch. The more correct their assessment, the more optimal their allocation of resources.
Right now I’m allocating my resources to discussing intelligence with you. Why? Because my brain tells me that this is a very useful thing to discuss. But it’s not like I have a good grasp of the exact mechanics. Your grasp is much better than mine. From my limited perspective, it seems like my brain is a bunch of individuals putting their tiny heads together to try and correctly discern the usefulness of a topic.
I’m a multicellular individual. Why? Because a long time ago a bunch of unicellular individuals did a really good job of putting their tiny heads together. Now here I am, a multicellular individual, trying to explain to you, a multicellular individual, that it’s relatively easy, and incredibly beneficial, to figure out which system does the best job of putting our tiny heads together.
Heh. It feels really… primordial.
Right now the most important experiment is being conducted… Honest Cash. Participants use costly signals to rank content. As opposed to Medium, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Google where content is ranked by cheap signals.
The Honest Cash experiment will economically enlighten everyone, and then all us multicellular individuals will do an infinitely better job of putting our tiny heads together, which means infinitely faster evolution.
If you want to better understand brains, then you should definitely participate in the Honest Cash experiment. You can use your money to improve how the content is ranked.
Compare these two passages…
While one can see that a nervous system signalling to both tissues could make chemical communication redundant, it’s now clear that the hormonal link — and the autonomous character of peripheral tissues — never went away. As specialised populations of cells evolved, the total organism benefited from individual tissues broadcasting their status to modulate other organs. As Karsenty puts it, ‘no organ is an island in our body.’ — Liam Drew, Hormones United
It is thus that the private interests and passions of individuals naturally dispose them to turn their stocks towards the employments which in ordinary cases are most advantageous to the society. But if from this natural preference they should turn too much of it towards those employments, the fall of profit in them and the rise of it in all others immediately dispose them to alter this faulty distribution. Without any intervention of law, therefore, the private interests and passions of men naturally lead them to divide and distribute the stock of every society among all the different employments carried on in it as nearly as possible in the proportion which is most agreeable to the interest of the whole society. — Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations
What’s the difference?
In both cases the optimal balance, the efficient allocation of resources, depends on a bunch of individuals effectively putting their tiny heads together. On a small scale the best system involves the sacrifice of calories. On our scale the best system involves the sacrifice of cash.