What Makes Humans Different: Compare Organisms Based on Rate-Volume of Communication
What makes humans different from other life forms? Can’t we talk and write? Aren’t these forms of communication different from communication achieved “only” with genes and nucleic acids? As Darwin observed (much to the consternation of many critics) evolution does not have one direction, toward which all life strives.
While there is no ranked evolutionary hierarchy, organisms can be compared based on rates and volume of communication, our rate-volume of communication. All organisms have a rate of communication and a volume of communication at the rate.
Humans are significant because our layer of socially constructed language allows us to communicate very quickly, (typically) much faster than communication that occurs solely through genetic code. Communication through genetic code requires cell division, sexual and asexual reproduction, and evolution, all relatively slow processes. Though slow, the amount or volume of information that is reproduced by communication through genetic code is very large. Genetic code encodes incredibly complex information regarding the environment in incredibly long sequences. The shear volume of information in genetic code is staggering, even if the rate of its reproduction may be measured in days, hours, and minutes. Genetic code has a rate-volume of communication that is slow-large.
In comparison to the volume of information encoded in DNA but the slow rate of its reproduction, socially constructed language can (with some exceptions) reproduce relatively quickly. The rate of reproduction of socially constructed language is (often) faster than the rate of reproduction of genetic code. A wolf pack, pod of orcas, or troupe of chimpanzees can reproduce a small amount of information very quickly. While fast, this socially constructed language has a volume of information that is small. It may identify individuals or the direction of resources, aiding the reproduction of the DNA of the pack, pod, or troupe.
In pre-human social groups, the rate of information reproduction in early spoken and gesticulated language may have been similar to the pack’s growls, barks, and howls, the pod’s squeals, clicks, and groans, or the troupe’s gestures, growls, grunts, and howls, but the volume of information reproduced by pre-humans was larger. Humans have a set of adaptations—living on land, hands, thumbs, two free limbs with the hands to make tools—that give our socially constructed language a larger repertoire of things to talk about, internal communication, and ways to convert the talk into action, external communication.
Over time, human socially constructed language increased in rate, volume, and reliability, significantly with the advent of writing, then printing, then electronic media, and now digital electronic media. Increasing the rate and volume of our internal communication has allowed our society to grow larger, which can be understood as external communication. This relationship has likely followed Kleiber’s Law.
Thus, while Darwin was correct that evolution is not hierarchical, the definition of life, above, can be used to compare organisms, not hierarchically, but based on rate-volumes of communication.
Looking at computer media, the rate is very fast. Initially, the volume was still fairly low, compared to the volume of information reproduced by genetic media. However, over time, the volume of communication occurring through computer media has increased, as has its rate.
Computer media has a rate-volume of communication that is fast-large.