Kevin Lacker


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Inner Alignment in Salt-Starved Rats

Now, for the rats, there’s an evolutionarily-adaptive goal of "when in a salt-deprived state, try to eat salt". The genome is “trying” to install that goal in the rat’s brain. And apparently, it worked! That goal was installed! And remarkably, that goal was installed even before that situation was ever encountered!

I don't think this is remarkable. Plenty of human activities work this way, where some goal has been encoded through evolution. For example, heterosexual teenage boys often find teenage girls to be attractive and want to get them naked, even before they have ever managed to do it successfully, without a true conscious understanding of their eventual goals. Or babies know to seek out nipple-shaped objects, before they have ever interacted with a nipple.