Life is many things. The experience at the core is practice in being. The collection of thoughts, emotions, memories, abstractions, actions in space, and mental moves are parts comprising what we consider the mind. When we read silently to ourselves, ruminate on exciting concepts, talk with others in person or online, and connect in general we can feel our minds flex to form the ideas that fit. We become what we practice and connecting thoughts to experience within the mind is something we do moment to moment. When we work to extend our experience of the world and values for expressing intelligence we have been hard pressed to find the same forms in the other denizens of our planet. The mind is still a mystery so extending what we understand proves difficult. Exploring abstractions of the foundation reasons behind why we hold and shape thoughts in mind, the complexity required for the actions consciously taken, and how nature would go about it could aid expand our understanding of the mind more generally.
When we think of food ecosystems it is often based on consumption. Those that consume others are considered the apex. Predators are the ones chasing, ripping, and devouring for meals while prey graze and run. This conception of power is vestigial from our experience on both sides of that relationship. Hunting and grazing for what we could while running from what we could not gave a high contrast picture of what power meant. We have been around for a relatively short amount of time on the planet. The control we now exert and develop is still founded on the same basic principles of power and active concepts of influence on thought. What would the thoughts and connections to experiences look like for animals and plants without language as we know it?
If thought is the ability to influence action then the majority of thought is the collection of reactions happening within. The chemicals that guide us shape how we think and the thoughts we hold. Ability to influence then could be an alternate metric for determining importance. Were we to think of communication and speech as programming languages then speech would be a high level, physical motion a mid level, and feelings in the body a base or low level form. What would a plant super intelligence look like given the focus on fundamental level of communication, relative to human speech and animal sounds? How could plant communication be more superior? Our lives are focused mainly on gaining and passing on knowledge. What we consume affects our thoughts and actions. For plants acting done through impact on motion and over much longer time frames. As the base of the consumption focused food chain, the patterns and actions set in motion by fauna on land and in the seas influence and prompt the actions throughout the ecosystem. How would a plant intelligence act given this fact? The actions needed to thrive would be independent of the ability to chase or run and rather focused on internal health. Influencing thought would depend much less on the season, general time, or other external factors. Each meal given is a chance to share. The giving tree could be giving more than was obvious.
For instance, how would fruit allow plants to share specific actions? Creative works in the modern age have explored the concept of fauna purging people from the ecosystem once a balance was disturbed. Others have shown plants in action on the same pace of motion as aggressive mammals. The idea of a generational thinking tree is moving on a deep level. A few concepts to explore around monitoring balance in an ecosystem over generations through fauna would be the ideas of distributed cognition similar to the knowledge of a crowd but passed implicitly through experience and action influence over generations, passively adjusting new balance standards based on actions taken in the population, and the harmonies possible. What if the seasons experienced by a seed germinating expressed specific growth patterns or specializations? How would plant migration change the patterns expressed over long periods of time?
Modern agricultural practices have reduced the breadth of plant diversity consumed by the human population but have done so by also selecting specific traits to increase the experience of eating as well as ability to feed large numbers of people. Plants have been on the planet for billions of years while animals, and humans specifically, have been around for orders of magnitude less time. The thoughts we express are based largely on the chemicals produced by our microbiome. Microorganisms live for much shorter time scales as well. Adjusting to environments quickly microorganisms can change how they flow and function based on the purpose they have selected best to serve. With plants coordinating actions across all environments on the longest time scales and microorganisms adjusting on the smallest levels the considerations possible, and likely already in action, speak to the reach and natural considerations of the system in which we partake.
Our sliver in time is floored by the need to progress and experience new moments persistently. Over the length of even our own history, the present rate of expansion would seem unthinkable to maintain. How would the future changes in our society be constructed to continue feeding the present needs or adjust them with the alternative intelligences possible. How would a microbe or plant super-intelligence exist? What kinds of processes take place over the time scales we have not yet been able to see? Bask in the sunshine and share any thoughts as they come.