What’s stopping other animals from reaching our level of intelligence where we have the ability to create technology?


What’s stopping other animals from reaching our level of intelligence where we have the ability to create technology?

In: Biology

Intelligence is expensive. Your brain eats about about a quarter of your daily caloric intake. For most animals the added smarts aren’t worth the cost.

Opposable thumbs and these which are intelligent as heck like octopuses have a short span, if they had bigger ones they’d definitely be able to developed a shit ton

Chimps already make tools. Corvids are highly adept at problem solving with tools and have intelligence reported to be that of a 6 year old human. Dolphins pass around blowfish to get high and have highly complex social structures…

Humans aren’t the only creatures with smarts.

Us. If it looked like some other species was going to take a share of our niche, we would almost certainly destroy them.

Nothing. It simply has not happened. The development of our own technology was achieved through random mutations that created benefit for us, but it did not happen because intelligence is “good” or “wanted”. Evolution’s selection of a trait is brutally simple – did it increase chance of survival to the point of reproduction and did those that came from that reproduction also get too reproduce. On that scale, intelligence is only one of gazillions of ways to create that sort of survival.

It’s easy to see the mutations in evolution in human terms – e.g. we often think about “when will humans evolve to fly”, which us saying “we want to fly therefore evolution will recognize that idea that it’s good and wanted and eventually we’ll evolve to have it”. There is no _direction_ in human terms of evolution – doesn’t work like that.

The definition of “fittest” in “the survival fo the fittest” is nothing more than circular – the fittest are those that survive.

One major factor is that other animals don’t cook their food. Cooking food provides access to much more nutrients. Cooking breaks down fibers and chemically changes the food so that we can better break it down. Of course, our bodies have also gone through some changes to better process cooked food but I won’t talk about that. Having a better access to nutrients allows for our brains to develop. Brains are very costly in terms of energy and resources. Our brains weigh ~2% of our entire body mass but they use ~20% of our energy.

Intelligence is one of many factors that are selected for not just in us but in other animals. We just happened to have the right circumstances and pressure to develop our intelligence so greatly. There are of course more philosophical or neuroethological questions of intelligence but I think those go outside the scope of this question.

Opportunity cost.

Most animals survive just fine without our big brain intelligence right?

Now that big brain of ours takes up a ridiculous amount of the energy we take in in the form of food. About a quarter of anything you eat is used up by our brains. That is enormous…

So if a life-form does well without that cost… Why would it change?

They would need a series of completely random mutations that made their brains change into something that can think more complex thoughts and natural selection would have to favor the animals with those new genes.