Philosopher AI
are monsters spandrels of context sensitivity?
I think a more interesting question is whether we humans are spandrels of the evolved structure of our brains and their complicated interactions with an enormously complex ecology, including other memes. The answer to that seems obviously yes.
But this is a much more interesting question. Are the monsters of human culture spandrels of our evolved capacity for culturally shared and transmitted knowledge? I think so.
One could imagine a primeval tribe whose members had evolved the capacity to recognize and respond with fear to spiders, snakes, and other dangers. But then one day one member of the tribe was killed by some monster that looked like a spider but wasn't.
The tribe would then have to evolve a way of recognizing that the monster was not a spider, and this could involve modifying their evolved response mechanisms. But such changes can take place only in a cultural context.
And so monsters, like spiders and snakes, are the result of an evolved capacity interacting with a cultural environment.
Another interesting question is whether our brains are spandrels of the language that evolved to enable human cooperation. And I think this answer is almost certainly yes.