Sidebar - September 2020

Ants and Droids

How big does a brain really need to be?

Ants are perhaps the smallest creatures with brains; but they are smart enough to find food. Since I built some droids before I retired, I wondered how difficult it would be to build a droid that does what an ant does.

The first droid I built (in 1981) was named R2D3 because he was 19 inches wide, and 30 inches high (but more rectangular than R2D2). I built him to do a job I didnít want to do. He stood a few feet away from SNORT (the Supersonic Naval Ordinance Research Track) next to the point on the track where an airplane was suspended. He took data as a rocket sled going mach (classified) carried a DSU-28B target detecting device under the airplane. You can guess why I didnít want to stand there myself. R2D3 survived the sonic boom every time.

A few years later, I had to analyze the telemetry data from the DSU-28Bs when they were installed in AIM-54C Phoenix missiles fired at target drones over the Pacific Ocean. I got tired of driving 4 hours to Pt. Mugu only to have the test delayed for several hours before being cancelled, and having to drive 4 hours back home (which happened frequently). So, I build droid 002 (ďJames BaudĒ) and left him there at Pt. Mugu. He listened to the telemetry data and printed out the time of intercept, closing velocity, range and angle at detection, and other important parameters, a few seconds after the intercept. He worked so well, I never had to go back to Pt. Mugu again.

The DSU-28B itself could be considered a droid, too, riding along on the missile, looking for a target, and setting off the warhead when it saw one.

R2D3, James Baud, and the DSU-28B all used dedicated microcomputers I built from an Intel 8085 microprocessor and a little bit of memory. They had one job to do, and were smart enough to do it. Adding more memory and a more powerful processor would not have made them perform any better.

An Ant-Droid

If I wanted to see if a droid could evolve to do an antís job, it would (at a minimum) have to be able to move, sense food, and communicate the location to other ants. If it didnít have to be as small as an ant, and if the prototype ant-droid started out having a mobile frame, with a food sensor on it, a signaling device, and a microcomputer, it would have all the necessary hardware to do what an ant does; but it would still lack one critical element. Software would have to evolve to make it work.

If I programmed it to find food, that would be designónot evolution.

If I tried to simulate evolution by putting random numbers in the ant-droidís memory, it would not do anything, let alone go out and search for food, no matter how many times I tried.

For it to evolve by learning how to find food all by itself, I would have to program it to try to find food through trial and error, and reward it somehow when it did find food. I would have to design it to evolve. That would be cheating.

The software in an ant-droidís brain could not evolve without intelligent assistance, nor could algorithms to find food evolve accidentally in a real antís brain.

Ants have a goal in mind for doing whatever they do; whether it is looking for food, eating food, carrying food back to the colony, building the colony, or telling other ants in the colony where to find food. Evolutionists believe that evolution is purposeless, and has no goal in mind.

It doesnít matter how small a brain is. Even an antís brain is big enough to know how to do what it needs to do. Brain size doesnít matter. What matters is that the brain has to be programmed to accomplish a goal. It has to be designed to accomplish its goal. That canít happen without a designer.

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