The video above gives you the skinny. But we’ve found the most complete skeletons of an ancient human ever, to my knowledge. I might be wrong there, we’ve found a shit ton of bones that has let them put together over a dozen people though…that seems like an awful lot. What gets me more is that we’ve also accidentally found the oldest known tomb. It’s natural, but that doesn’t make it any less cool. These kind of activities are what give me goosebumps whenever we mistreat animals like apes or even ravens. Obviously this ancient humanoid is much closer to use than a raven but the point in my mind stands. I deeply believe that we overestimate our complexity. It’s not that our brains are simple, they are very complex even if we just talk about objective connection counts, neurons, and the various structures.
But what makes us “human” I suspect is simpler than it appears. The best way I can describe that feeling is with the following gif.
What you have above is a very simple process. This one or two step process happens over and over until what you are left with is an object that appears painfully complex. Plantlife manages to do this quite well. When you look at a tree you see a complicated looking network of roots, branches, and leaves. But really it all comes back to some simple systems that have been slowly added to over a very long period of time. How about birds in a flying V or fish in a school?
When you watch a school or a flock move about it seems almost that they are of a hive mind. Hundreds or thousands of animals all moving at high speeds and in tandem. It’s a thing to behold and in many ways it defies belief. But at the core of it is a simple set of rules that only come across as complex because they are repeated a great number of times. Each bird or fish is doing some relatively simple calculations (as far as a biological computer is concerned) based on its surrounding partners. Those surrounding partners do the same thing to their surrounding partners, ad nauseum, until the entire thing acts as one large organism.
Not to diverge too far from my original point, but this is why these kind of news bits fascinate me and similarly sometimes bum me out. I’m reminded that there aren’t very many steps between what we consider worthy of our compassion and what we consider beneath it. Which actually brings me to AI and why I think it’ll be more human than we predict. But I’m going to save that for another conversation.