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Architect
18th-October-2014, 12:30 PM
OK, to keep Cherry entertained I won't talk about INTP's here.

Instead, define "human" for me. Can you do it?

When I was young we defined being human as "able to use tools". Until we discovered animals, and even insects and other really simple creatures that used them too.

Then it seemed to shift to defining human as "ability to think, to reason". Until computers came along that think better than us. My contention is that presently computers can think better than us by orders of magnitude, all they lack is consciousness and emotional intelligence. Which they will have in about the next 15 years.

Side note, when I started working there was credibility in knowing something. Like C++ - a guy on my team was considered an expert in it which made him valuable. This was shortly before the internet where you depended on books for knowledge, which were slow and cumbersome to use. Having that in your head counted for something.

Now a days I try not to remember anything. What's the point? My phone does it better than I do without the mental wear and tear. My brain - being what it is - will remember things whether I want it to or not, no point in making it harder on myself.

So what is a human?

Animekitty
18th-October-2014, 12:50 PM
Define human:

Human is what i am

Towards the Ubermensch

"I teach you the overman. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?
All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is the ape to man? A laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment...
Behold, I teach you the overman. The overman is the meaning of the earth.Let your will say: the overman shall be the meaning of the earth! I beseech you, my brothers, remain faithful to the earth, and do not believe those who speak to you of otherworldly hopes! Poison-mixers are they, whether they know it or not. Despisers of life are they, decaying and poisoned themselves, of whom the earth is weary: so let them go.
Once the sin against God was the greatest sin; but God died, and these sinners died with him. To sin against the earth is now the most dreadful thing, and to esteem the entrails of the unknowable higher than the meaning of the earth...
What is the greatest experience you can have? It is the hour of the great contempt. The hour when your happiness, too, arouses your disgust, and even your reason and your virtue.
The hour when you say, 'What matters my happiness? It is poverty and filth and wretched contentment. But my happiness ought to justify existence itself.'
The hour when you say, 'What matters my reason? Does it crave knowledge as the lion his food? It is poverty and filth and wretched contentment.'
The hour when you say, 'What matters my virtue? As yet it has not made me rage. How weary I am of my good and my evil! All that is poverty and filth and wretched contentment.'
"Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman--a rope over an abyss...
What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end: what can be loved in man is that he is an overture and a going under...

"I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves.
Alas, the time is coming when man will no longer give birth to a star. Alas, the time of the most despicable man is coming, he that is no longer able to despise himself. Behold, I show you the last man.
'What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?' thus asks the last man, and blinks.
The earth has become small, and on it hops the last man, who makes everything small. His race is as ineradicable as the flea; the last man lives longest.
'We have invented happiness,'say the last men, and they blink. They have left the regions where it was hard to live, for one needs warmth. One still loves one's neighbor and rubs against him, for one needs warmth...
One still works, for work is a form of entertainment. But one is careful lest the entertainment be too harrowing. One no longer becomes poor or rich: both require too much exertion. Who still wants to rule? Who obey? Both require too much exertion.
No shepherd and one herd! Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.
'Formerly, all the world was mad,' say the most REFINED, and they blink...
One has one's little pleasure for the day and one's little pleasure for the night: but one has a regard for health.
'We have invented happiness,' say the last men, and they blink."

from Nietzsche's Thus spoke Zarathustra, p.3,4,5, Walter Kaufmann transl.

Thurlor
18th-October-2014, 01:43 PM
I'm sorry, but I really don't understand what your problem is. Human is that which is of the same species as you or I (or anyone else).

I think a better question would be 'what is a person'?

I once pondered what would be the definition of human in the future and I concluded anything that had human ancestors.

Cognisant
18th-October-2014, 01:53 PM
Biologically speaking the ability to reproduce is what separates one species from another.

If you're asking what separates man from machine, well we're a lot less modular and we can't back up our data, we can produce machines but they can't produce us yet, once it's possible to create completely artificial wombs, ova and sperm the distinction between man and machine will be erased completely regardless of our superficial differences.

If I was to exploit functional compensation to migrate from a biological to a simulated brain I would technically be a non-human for as long as those artificial reproduction technologies don't yet exist.

RaBind
18th-October-2014, 03:05 PM
The matrix would've been real had noone become aware of it.

paradoxparadigm7
18th-October-2014, 05:14 PM
If it's a continuum, meaning all living things share basic potentialities and propensities along a linear continuum, then the only way to differentiate is to describe the QUALITY of being human. Poetry, literature, philosophy, (there is more that isn't coming to mind) and our own experience of being tell a portion of that quality.

I'm sure this answer isn't satisfying to many so I'll put a more objective answer as well. Humans can be distinguished from other life from our use of language to construct abstract and symbolic thought for the purpose of meaning. Maybe:confused:

Here's another thought: humans are the only beings that want and can achieve balance of autonomy and connection. The preverbal "have their cake and eat it to". A razors edge feat of development. (I'm not sure about this one!)

Analyzer
18th-October-2014, 05:20 PM
I think this question is what limits our understanding for the doctrines of evolution and artificial intelligence to be successful. There is no clear consensus what Man is and has been. Who then gets to define what constitutes as evolution and general intelligence. Typically its up the anthropologists and psychologists to provide us with this knowledge which has been a question since the beginning of civilization. There could indeed be a distinction between the biological realm and psychical. What if not all homo sapiens are actually "humans"?

Cognisant
18th-October-2014, 05:45 PM
Then ultimately it's always a matter of public opinion.

idokaiho
18th-October-2014, 05:55 PM
I'm sorry, but I really don't understand what your problem is. Human is that which is of the same species as you or I (or anyone else).

I think a better question would be 'what is a person'?

I once pondered what would be the definition of human in the future and I concluded anything that had human ancestors.

I think he is alluding to what makes us separate. In which case, I'd say our most separated features that are expressed are our control over the environment and our unique society. Our achievements are blatantly dissimilar from the achievements of other species. Other species express themselves in a way that seems much more hardwired, while humans have a propensity for change.

Like we are the inheritors of the dna of previous lifeforms, machines are the inheritors of our progress. Though I am uncertain of whether they will be conscious. Recently I've been pondering the role of quantum mechanics as it may relate to the manifestation of consciousness. Perhaps it is based on mechanics which we have not discovered or cannot discover. Or perhaps it just arises out of a construct similar to the brain. In any case, we haven't discovered the mechanics of consciousness so how can you be so sure it will arrive manifested in machines in the near future?

Analyzer
18th-October-2014, 06:02 PM
Then ultimately it's always a matter of public opinion.

This why the whole notion of AI coming to existence really depends on the public opinion. If enough people believe a machine can think than they do. Something like intelligence and humanity is so subjective there will always be disagreements no mater how sophisticated our mechanical understanding of the mind is.

In any case, we haven't discovered the mechanics of consciousness so how can you be so sure it will arrive manifested in machines in the near future? What if no such mechanics exist? I find it fairly arrogant on the part of humans to think that we can discover how consciousness "works" using our minds(our creations are still products of our minds). Several things need to be assumed for this to happen particularly an agreed upon system/understanding of ontology.

Architect
18th-October-2014, 06:25 PM
Then ultimately it's always a matter of public opinion.

Precisely the difficulty. This motivated the Turing Test. How do you know I'm intelligent? Just because you think I'm intelligent, and vice-versa.

We've come full circle; people keep asking me my IQ and I've stated I don't know and won't take the test. Here you know why - we don't know how to measure 'artificial' intelligence, how do we think we can do it for people?

Cognisant
18th-October-2014, 06:56 PM
If Alan Turing was conducting the Turing Test nothing would have succeeded thus far because he would know what to ask, I mean I can have a conversation with you then later in the conversation refer back to something you said and ask why your opinion has changed since then, I doubt a mere chatbot will ever be able to convincingly answer that if it was really pushed for details.

What if no such mechanics exist? I find it fairly arrogant on the part of humans to think that we can discover how consciousness "works" using our minds(our creations are still products of our minds).
I find that assumption that we can't hilarious :D
Intelligence is the goal orientated adaptation of behavior, the faster and more accurately something can adapt the more intelligent it is, there's already countless artificial intelligences in existence work it's just that we haven't figured out how to make them think like us yet.

Mainly because we don't understand how we think.

Several things need to be assumed for this to happen particularly an agreed upon system/understanding of ontology.
I agree, we have many archaic notions that tradition and religious faith have burdened us with and these need to be expunged.

idokaiho
18th-October-2014, 09:54 PM
This why the whole notion of AI coming to existence really depends on the public opinion. If enough people believe a machine can think than they do. Something like intelligence and humanity is so subjective there will always be disagreements no mater how sophisticated our mechanical understanding of the mind is.

What if no such mechanics exist? I find it fairly arrogant on the part of humans to think that we can discover how consciousness "works" using our minds(our creations are still products of our minds). Several things need to be assumed for this to happen particularly an agreed upon system/understanding of ontology.

Our universe is governed by laws. Our consciousness also must be governed by laws or else we wouldn't be contained within our bodies. I can't fathom anything existing without rules as a foundation. Even so, we may not become aware of that foundation like I said. But if we did then the volatility of subjective opinion could be transcended.

Animekitty
19th-October-2014, 12:36 AM
Precisely the difficulty. This motivated the Turing Test. How do you know I'm intelligent? Just because you think I'm intelligent, and vice-versa.

We've come full circle; people keep asking me my IQ and I've stated I don't know and won't take the test. Here you know why - we don't know how to measure 'artificial' intelligence, how do we think we can do it for people?

Its not about the type problems you solve but how you solve them.

There is a distinction of what can be done with unlimited resources and what can be done with limited resources. A brute force mechanism is not intelligent in the way a general algorithm for problem solving would be.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIXI

http://jveness.info/hedbot_aixi_bubble_small.jpg

If it were a comparison i would say mental speed allows you to solve more problems faster in a general way. If i were to say i am smart it is because of random acquisitions of a mode of thinking but my skills do not improve fast like others do:

http://youtu.be/DBXZWB_dNsw

Cognisant
19th-October-2014, 01:04 AM
It's not what you got it's how you use it.

Try calculating the square root of a twelve digit number in your head.
A calculator embedded in a $2 ruler can do that faster than you ever will.

Someone calls out to you on a crowded beach, you not only hear them you also recognise their voice and determine their approximate location in less than a second.
There isn't a supercomputer in the world that can do that.

The way we and computers think is amazingly different, I mean we don't even store memories when we want to recollect something we just reconstruct the experiance from the latent connection strengths in our neural net, that's weird and what's even weirder is that it works so well.

crippli
19th-October-2014, 01:31 AM
I believe consciousness is biological. So unless computers can be made biological. They will not get consciousness as we experience it. And bio computers, that I know little about, seems to be hard to make.

There is also the problem with consciousness that I define as ability for movement/freedom created for specific tasks. For humans it seems to be to dig stuff out of the earth, and to a lesser degree send stuff out into space.

Would humans be willing to, if humans could, create a self replicating bio computer with consciousness? By the above definition, and if successful, with greater consciousness, this would take control over humans. So such a creation is on odds with humanity's greatest fear. The lack of control.

For me the Joker card here is nature. Species develop each other, with cross breeding in one fashion or another. Humans creating such a being, could be just that, a crossbreeding. This I see as a likely scenario, but I doubt it will be on purpose. I doubt the other Great Apes, are all that happy with having created the humans. But, it's not so bad for them, they still live. As I presume we will too, when bio computers are made real, although more confined, and under stricter rules.

Teax
19th-October-2014, 01:36 AM
Instead, define "human" for me. Can you do it?

When I was young we defined being human as "able to use tools". Until we discovered animals, and even insects and other really simple creatures that used them too.

you're not asking todefine human, youre asking what makes us so special? i'll just roll with that

Then it seemed to shift to defining human as "ability to think, to reason". Until computers came along that think better than us.

depends on what you mean by think. a computer can crunch more numbers per second, but I don't consider that process thinking. just as I don't consider most of what we are forced to do in school thinking... more like:
remembering
reproducing from memory
comparing
following instructions
all of that can and should be done by computers

My contention is that presently computers can think better than us by orders of magnitude, all they lack is consciousness and emotional intelligence.

im too unsure about whether conciousness is possible or not so i'll just let this slide. and to gain emotional intelligence you have to have emotions in the first place, I'm not convinced that it is even desirable... I'd hate to be a depressed AI... :D

Side note, when I started working there was credibility in knowing something. Like C++ - a guy on my team was considered an expert in it which made him valuable. (...) Now a days I try not to remember anything. What's the point?

I agree, no need to remember any unnecessary details. An expert in C++ is an expert not because he holds many function names in his head , but because he has an understanding of the language's semantic structure and is intuitive about modelling the real world. THAT is what, IMHO makes us special and where thinking is involved - modelling. and I believe we will be unsurpassed by computer AIs in this one tiny field for quite some time. Remembering the function and variable names is a job for the IDE, and the 'dumb' algorithms, why would I strain myself doing that... completely agree.

We've come full circle; people keep asking me my IQ and I've stated I don't know and won't take the test. Here you know why - we don't know how to measure 'artificial' intelligence, how do we think we can do it for people?

heh same reason I refuse to take the test. The most fruitless debates I ever had were about defining intelligence... so just for convenience sake I define it as the ability to 'think' in a way as I defined above. (which had an (un?)fortunate sideeffect of labeling some people back in school per definition dumb, and myself being called arrogant by teachers hehe) maybe we should start a thread on defining intelligence...

Analyzer
19th-October-2014, 01:58 AM
depends on what you mean by think. a computer can crunch more numbers per second, but I don't consider that process thinking. just as I don't consider most of what we are forced to do in school thinking... more like:
remembering
reproducing from memory
comparing
following instructions
all of that can and should be done by computers


Exactly. Thinking comes from consciousness. Those things mentioned are like ISTJ specialties that can and should be handled by a computer. What about things like thinking about consequences of certain choices or evaluating patterns in history?

Teax
19th-October-2014, 02:53 AM
Exactly. Thinking comes from consciousness. Those things mentioned are like ISTJ specialties that can and should be handled by a computer. What about things like thinking about consequences of certain choices or evaluating patterns in history?

both require modelling the reality first, even if it's not conscious, so even if youre not aware that that is what you're actually doing, and then later simply deducing the implications of the model, so yeah, i'd consider that thinking

Brontosaurie
20th-October-2014, 01:26 AM
homo fagot var. motherfuckensis

lol

no. artificial environment, substrate transcendence, meta cognition, intuition, stuff like that. maybe? not sure i'd equate sentience with human, you did that right? just checking. it's kind of a stylistic choice but stylistics are more significant than often given credit for

Vrecknidj
20th-October-2014, 03:12 AM
Featherless bipeds with an S-shaped spine that happened to have domesticated fire and discovered radio waves.

Teax
20th-October-2014, 03:12 AM
artificial environment, substrate transcendence, meta cognition, intuition, stuff like that. maybe?
artificial environment - isn't it just a consequence of sentience?
substrate transcendence- what do you mean? (googling (http://lmgtfy.com/?q=substrate+transcendence) it didnt help)
meta cognition - isn't it just another word for sentience?
intuition - animal instincts or Ne/Ni kind of intuition? isn't abstract thinking just another word for sentience? and if you mean creativeness, creatures often demonstrate creative Ne with their buildings (nests, dams, hives, webs). An elephant is even known to draw. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQv5mE42Yos

Cherry Cola
20th-October-2014, 03:43 AM
The stuff that sets us apart from the species we evolved from? Dunno where to draw the line. There's this human/animal dichotomy that needs to be worked out. Maybe start by looking at what we have that the great apes don't or something. I dunno.

Cherry Cola
20th-October-2014, 04:36 AM
artificial environment - isn't it just a consequence of sentience?
substrate transcendence- what do you mean? (googling (http://lmgtfy.com/?q=substrate+transcendence) it didnt help)
meta cognition - isn't it just another word for sentience?
intuition - animal instincts or Ne/Ni kind of intuition? isn't abstract thinking just another word for sentience? and if you mean creativeness, creatures often demonstrate creative Ne with their buildings (nests, dams, hives, webs). An elephant is even known to draw. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQv5mE42Yos

Meta cognition is thinking or feeling about your thoughts or feelings, that's a skill which only humans possess no? :O

Anyway it's interesting the way you say abstract thinking is just another word for sentience. I wouldn't say it is precisely, but sentience requires abstract thinking when you think about it. I find it odd how it's said that animals can't think abstractly. I had and I still have a problem with that. I'ma try to explain my view on this and offer a solution to the issue, would be interesting to hear yours and others thoughts on it.
Animals just have much fewer abstractions than humans by far. An animal will orient itself by putting things into abstract categories just like humans, abstract categories such as prey, predator, rival, mate, alpha, my child, other child, food, danger, nice, bad etc. Humans use far more categories; moreover, the categories that humans use are stored in a complex morphology intricately woven together by meta and subcategories (a morphology suited for metacognitive analysis).

Still there is no principal difference that lets us say that humans think abstractly whereas animals don't. Even if we use a really primitive animal as an example there's still gonna be abstract thinking going on, it's just going to use fewer abstract categories to orient itself. A Deer may have a bunch categories for prey and danger, but for something primitive like a mosquito these are going to be lumped into far fewer. There are only as many categories as there are possible reactions to them. A mosquito doesn't need many categories for prey or danger because it responds more or less the same to all of them. It probably has like 2-3 categories which are like "potential danger" "danger" "very danger" and depending on which is triggered it will fly away to a certain distance at a certain speed. The point is these are still abstract categories and they are still used cognitively, ie even the mosquito thinks in terms of abstractions! Of course it isn't really thinking so much as it experiencing, still it's experiences are shaped in accordance with the abstract terms by which it creates them.

Looking at the wikipedia definition:

Abstraction in its main sense is a conceptual process by which general rules and concepts are derived from the usage and classification of specific examples, literal ("real" or "concrete") signifiers, first principles, or other methods. "An abstraction" is the product of this process—a concept that acts as a super-categorical noun for all subordinate concepts, and connects any related concepts as a group, field, or category.[1] Conceptual abstractions may be formed by reducing the information content of a concept or an observable phenomenon, typically to retain only information which is relevant for a particular purpose. For example, abstracting a leather soccer ball to the more general idea of a ball retains only the information on general ball attributes and behavior, eliminating the other characteristics of that particular ball.[1] In a type–token distinction, a type (e.g., a 'ball') is more abstract than its tokens (e.g., 'that leather soccer ball').

A mosquito is still capable of abstraction in its main sense, indeed it needs to be in order to survive. But a mosquito isn't a very capable abstractor, and that seems to be what's important here. A deer is much more capable abstractor. A human, however, is a wastly superior one. If you read the wiki-article on abstract thinking there will be many examples of different forms of abstract reasoning, very few of which the mosquito is capable, several of which the deer is; a human is capable of all of them though.

It seems to me that when people say only humans are capable of abstract thinking, what they should be saying is humans are capable of abstract thinking on an entirely different level than any other animal. Their thinking is so advanced in comparison that it can almost be considered another phenomenon. . The problem is that abstract thinking as it is described is applicable in principle is applicable to humans and animals alike. I think some new term is needed to define the kind of abstract thinking enabled by the neocortex alone for us to be able to say that "humans do this and animals don't".

Thoughts?

idokaiho
20th-October-2014, 05:05 AM
Well if there would be a term made wouldn't it be better to be derived from another distinction because other mammals also have neocortexes. Perhaps a relation to our particular neocortical structure or something subjective that has a strong correlation.

I vote for "Jesus abstractions" because religion really sets us apart from those lowly unsophisticated creatures without God in their lives.

Teax
20th-October-2014, 05:36 AM
all quotes from Cherry Cola:
Meta cognition is thinking or feeling about your thoughts or feelings, that's a skill which only humans possess no? :O

Not sure, but tend to disagree. theres evidence, for me, to support metacognition in dolphins for example or gorillas (not sure if those were gorillas...). but not definitive: since I can't become a dolphin - I may never know. so this discussion is of pure academic nature. which I'm by the way fine with.

Anyway it's interesting the way you say abstract thinking is just another word for sentience. I wouldn't say it is precisely, but sentience requires abstract thinking when you think about it.

yeah that's the way I meant it... but up to a certain degree of abstractness I suspect it automatically follows.

I find it odd how it's said that animals can't think abstractly.

I had and I still have a problem with that.

Gorillas can learn a language. languages are indirect abstract constructs. hence I believe animals can think very abstractly. I do not believe sentience is what makes us special, rather, tried to argue from Brontosaurie's perspective to point out problems in Brontosaurie's statement. so I'd like to redirect your post, to which I obviously mostly agree, towards Brontosaurie

Animals just have much fewer abstractions than humans by far. An animal will orient itself by putting things into abstract categories just like humans, abstract categories such as prey, predator, rival, mate, alpha, my child, other child, food, danger, nice, bad etc. Humans use far more categories;

yep, with the time they have to chew and contemplate they probably have a lot more.

moreover, the categories that humans use are stored in a complex morphology intricately woven together by meta and subcategories (a morphology suited for metacognitive analysis).

I'm not sure about if this is so different in animals. It's just that when they have less categories to begin with, the subcategories will be less still, yet not knowing much about the world, is something completely different from introspection. I believe we learn complex logic from language constructs initially, while the animal is left to invent logic for itself from observation, but that does not hinder sentience.

on a side note - maybe they even lack the facilities (dedicated brain area developed evolutionary to bond herds) to pattern-match enough different words transmitted(e.g. spoken) by their species to develop language constructs.

Still there is no principal difference that lets us say that humans think abstractly whereas animals don't. Even if we use a really primitive animal as an example there's still gonna be abstract thinking going on, it's just going to use fewer abstract categories to orient itself. A Deer may have a bunch categories for prey and danger, but for something primitive like a mosquito these are going to be lumped into far fewer. There are only as many categories as there are possible reactions to them. A mosquito doesn't need many categories for prey or danger because it responds more or less the same to all of them. It probably has like 2-3 categories which are like "potential danger" "danger" "very danger" and depending on which is triggered it will fly away at a certain distance or speed.

so true, I've been observing timelapses of some caterpillars and other insects with amazing insights....

The point is these are still abstract categories and they are still used cognitively, ie even the mosquito thinks in terms of abstractions!

from neural networks, I deduced that convergence points must be those abstract categories which means that abstract- is per definition the way any sufficiently interconnected nervous systhem thinks. mind you this is all conjecture... I can't even become an insect and see for myself...

A deer is much more capable abstractor. A human, however, is a wastly superior one.

and this is exactly what my definition of 'thinking' above is based on.

I think some new term is needed to define the kind of abstract thinking enabled by the neocortex alone for us to be able to say that "humans do this and animals don't".

true, this would clear up conversations a lot. but this underdog opinion of ours is not very popular so such a word will not be invented and widespread for a long time. I however object that this kind of abstract thinking necessarily has todo with our version of the neocortex. rather the training we give our young brains through bombardment of speech constructs. We literally have too many unnecessary abstract categories only usefull for pattern matching semi-formal languages.

Thoughts?

oh yes, always =) .... =\ .... =( .... hahaha

I vote for "Jesus abstractions" because religion really sets us apart from those lowly unsophisticated creatures without God in their lives.

religion is based on organisation which needs communication. some individual animals might believe in a god or gods, they are simply incapable of telling us. they are certainly not capable in following a religion because they won't understand the transmission. Some probably believe we are the gods. seeing as how we punish and reward them, and make magic happen, conjure huge metallic obedient creatures and posess some of them. if not gods then at least demons.

idokaiho
20th-October-2014, 05:47 AM
It was supposed to be a joke x_x I guess it wasn't good.

Teax
20th-October-2014, 05:51 AM
when touching religion and god, I never assume it's a joke. too many serious faces staring back at me after I say something tactless like "haha nice one" and all I can do then is slowly back away from the room
:ichnicht: :waffe14:

idokaiho
20th-October-2014, 06:37 AM
:confused: I did wonder if I was being tactless but was being spontaneous and I think I might have even laughed at my own joke >_>

Cherry Cola
20th-October-2014, 06:51 AM
from neural networks, I deduced that convergence points must be those abstract categories which means that abstract- is per definition the way any sufficiently interconnected nervous systhem thinks. mind you this is all conjecture... I can't even become an insect and see for myself...

Interesting. If we use biosemiotic terms (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sign_(semiotics)) instead we can apply the same principles to things that are so primitive they aren't considered sentient such as plants and even atoms and molecules.

idokaiho
20th-October-2014, 07:12 AM
I'm not going to pretend I understand everything you guys are saying but what about traits that plants have like pheromone communication, preferential treatment of close relatives, and recognition of specific species which may benefit of harm them. Or are they just more liken to machines carrying out processes they've happened to develop?

And since I don't understand this may very well be out of place.

Reluctantly
20th-October-2014, 07:35 AM
I don't know, but I'm pretty sure that we're the only species capable of the kind of meta-cognition that allows for making tools that make other tools.

Teax
20th-October-2014, 08:21 AM
:confused: I did wonder if I was being tactless but was being spontaneous and I think I even laughed at my own joke >_>

oh sry, don't get me wrong, I am amused ^_^' but this exact argument, I've definetly heared it from believers with even similarly chosen words like 'lowly'. and you did say it with a 'straight face' or rather that's the way I perceived it. so you see where this is going ofc hehe

we can apply the same principles to things that are so primitive they aren't considered sentient such as plants and even atoms and molecules.

that reminds me, i read somewhere about fungi: sufficiently wide webs spanning kilometers interconnect, are supposed to exhibit weird global behaviour.

signs are nothing more than information, just different people initially researching this stuff so they call it by a different word (i came from a more computer background). any structure - is - of higher informational entropy then chaos, and thus 'is information' and 'is a sign'. so the topics we discuss are applicable to everything, at least on this plane of existence, where we can be sure these words are applicable. that's just so cool *satisfied grin*

what about traits that plants have like pheromone communication, preferential treatment of close relatives, and recognition of specific species which may benefit of harm them. Or are they just more liken to machines carrying out processes they've happened to develop?


well from an evolutionary standpoint, this is simply beneficial for survival and successful reproduction, so these traits can be seen as mechanical, tools for the plant to interpret specific signs(namely pheromones) and automatically react to them, just like our skin automatically reacts to temperature by closing pores or something like that.

the insect that is specialized to pollinate one specific species of a plant, and the plant that attracts this one specific species of insect: they work together like 2 organs in our body work together. it's epic symbiosys, they have 2 different genetic codes yes, but evolve in synch like one organism. Just like Lichen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lichen). But to be fair, so does most of the ecosystem to a certain, less intercoupled degree.

yet once this trait is established, from a purely informational perspective.. only if you let me speculate even more than usual.
a neuron is also just a machine of sorts. so a jungle, or mycelium (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycelium), or even a family of plants growing next to each other can be seen a deeply interconnected web of organisms that each have the role of a neuron. (like Cherry Cola said, on any scale). thus the whole jungle/the whole mycelium entity could literally have a mind of its own in a weird way. no arms to actually do anything about it's own existence.... sure theyre not sentient from our point of view, but you have to wonder whether some of these uber-entities are thinking the exact same thing about us.

I'm gonna stop before this turns into a spiritual discussion.

but were talking about what makes us human, not whether human form is the only sentient lifeform.

Brontosaurie
20th-October-2014, 11:00 AM
artificial environment - isn't it just a consequence of sentience?
substrate transcendence- what do you mean? (googling (http://lmgtfy.com/?q=substrate+transcendence) it didnt help)
meta cognition - isn't it just another word for sentience?
intuition - animal instincts or Ne/Ni kind of intuition? isn't abstract thinking just another word for sentience? and if you mean creativeness, creatures often demonstrate creative Ne with their buildings (nests, dams, hives, webs). An elephant is even known to draw. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQv5mE42Yos

i'll do numeric points 1-4 since i'm not sentient enough for that multi-quote thingie.

1. first i must ask whether you mean logical or causal consequence. if it's causal, i don't see why this disqualifies artificial environment and associated disconnect from biological evolution as being potential candidate or assistant for an essential understanding of humanity/sentience/civilization. furthermore, sentience (or whatever we are defining) i reckon develops alongside artificial environment, they feedback on each other. i would hesitate to decide a clear causality.

2. pattern reproduction and evolution which is independent of specific material substrates or media if you will. language is an example, transhumanism/uploading/AI may be another.

3. maybe so. i did not propose an ultimate definition, just a few aspects i have deemed significant. still it's a stretch to propose that animals possess meta-cognition.

4. transitional phases are a given. there can be no specific definitions of phenomena, there's always overlap. demands of mathematical precision will be futile. by intuition i mean a reasoning process which is not deliberate or laborious, and not limited by motives of immediate instrumentality. an elephant depicting an elephant is not creativity unless one invokes the institutional silliness which claims that "it's a painting so it's art". i assume humans have forcibly made that animal carry out a simple visual recognition and manual craft task.

idokaiho
20th-October-2014, 06:58 PM
sure theyre not sentient from our point of view

That's what I was trying to get at, the possibility of another kind of consciousness. Man I wish we could find something to finally explain cosciousness coherently. It drives me crazy.

Cherry Cola
20th-October-2014, 07:21 PM
That's what I was trying to get at, the possibility of another kind of consciousness. Man I wish we could find something to finally explain cosciousness coherently. It drives me crazy.

Panpsychism dude.

idokaiho
20th-October-2014, 07:44 PM
I mean falsifiable evidence that we haven't falsified.

Absurdity
20th-October-2014, 07:44 PM
Re: abstract thinking capabilities of animals, I think something that might set humans apart is the ability to create new abstract categories beyond "base" ones that animal intelligence may provide. Computers aren't capable of this either, at least as far as I am aware.

Cherry Cola
20th-October-2014, 07:52 PM
Not so sure about that. What's to say the new categories we form aren't just subcategories of larger categories -which remain fixed- of which we are not consciously aware because they make up the framework of our conciousness? Do we really create new categories?

Absurdity
20th-October-2014, 08:04 PM
Not so sure about that. What's to say the new categories we form aren't just subcategories of larger categories -which remain fixed- of which we are not consciously aware because they make up the framework of our conciousness? Do we really create new categories?

Hmm I don't really know much about philosophy of mind or whatever strange waters this conversation is paddling in but I find that understanding of consciousness that you're suggesting instinctively weird. Why would it be fixed? And how? If I didn't know you better I'd think you were hinting at intelligent design or something like that.

Seems much easier to prove that abstract categories can be created. The idea of "numbers" seem like the most obvious candidate.

idokaiho
20th-October-2014, 08:05 PM
Maybe a better distinction is our ability to mix categories?

idokaiho
20th-October-2014, 08:07 PM
The way I understood what he was saying is that we have parts of the brain that are for specific tasks and that we derive abstractions from them.

Primeval
20th-October-2014, 08:25 PM
From a certain perspective, "human" seems to be simply a tag applied by the species to its own current iteration. Are you asking for a term that will remain valid in perpetuity or the exact limits of the current definition?

Assume for a moment the planet is still populated in one million years. That which exists on the planet is biologically descended from those humans who live now. I would argue this is sufficient time for the species to have diverged enough to be considered "non-human" or "abhuman" by todays standards. Perhaps similar to Neanderthals.

paradoxparadigm7
20th-October-2014, 08:49 PM
Does anyone know if there is evidence that animals make meaning? I still contend meaning-making is a human distinguishing hallmark. This has been researched quite a bit and I doubt there is much controversy that indeed we are meaning makers. I'm just not sure (and I googled it so I did due diligence:)) if animals, especially our close evolutionary relatives, have shown some propensity for this.

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/onlyhuman/2009/08/cognitive-metamorphosis.cfm

Cherry Cola
20th-October-2014, 09:35 PM
make meaning? :S Afaik we simply experience things as meaningful as do animals.

Grayman
20th-October-2014, 10:59 PM
make meaning? :S Afaik we simply experience things as meaningful as do animals.

Meaning can be made or found.

We have a starting place or a network of objects or concepts we see as meaningful. Finding meaning in new things occurs by experiencing things that share existing relations to things you already place meaning in.
Making meaning is a process of sacrifice of something meaningful for something else and seeking out meaningful qualities in things to purposely build a greater overall meaning in the main concept. The most common meaningful sacrifice is ones time.

paradoxparadigm7
20th-October-2014, 11:45 PM
I was actually thinking along the lines of mind mapping-reading someone's mind and understanding his/her thoughts, feelings and motivations. This is the precursor for manipulation, lying and such as well as empathy. However, animals do show this ability in a rudimentary way. Deception has been shown in some of the great apes. So nope, shot down again.

Teax
21st-October-2014, 05:33 AM
1. first i must ask whether you mean logical or causal consequence. if it's causal, i don't see why this disqualifies artificial environment and associated disconnect from biological evolution as being potential candidate or assistant for an essential understanding of humanity/sentience/civilization. furthermore, sentience (or whatever we are defining) i reckon develops alongside artificial environment, they feedback on each other. i would hesitate to decide a clear causality.

because the canvas is not a requirement for art. One catalyst is not a requirement for a chemical reaction, something else could be substituted. Woudn't it make more sence to pin down the meaning of sentience rather than to make t more fuzzy then it already is. I mean does it matter how sentience was achieved, as long as it was?


2. pattern reproduction and evolution which is independent of specific material substrates or media if you will. language is an example, transhumanism/uploading/AI may be another.


I can't think of anything in this category we can do, but can prove that an animal would not be able to do.....


still it's a stretch to propose that animals possess meta-cognition.


I'd say it's a stretch to propose either one.

an elephant depicting an elephant is not creativity unless one invokes the institutional silliness which claims that "it's a painting so it's art". i assume humans have forcibly made that animal carry out a simple visual recognition and manual craft task.

that was not my point, rather, the fact that animals have abstract categories(and by extension your definition of intuition) is supported by tidbits of evidence throughout the animal kingdom.

Brontosaurie
21st-October-2014, 12:48 PM
because the canvas is not a requirement for art. One catalyst is not a requirement for a chemical reaction, something else could be substituted. Woudn't it make more sence to pin down the meaning of sentience rather than to make t more fuzzy then it already is. I mean does it matter how sentience was achieved, as long as it was?

I can't think of anything in this category we can do, but can prove that an animal would not be able to do.....

I'd say it's a stretch to propose either one.

that was not my point, rather, the fact that animals have abstract categories(and by extension your definition of intuition) is supported by tidbits of evidence throughout the animal kingdom.

why do you assume this makes it more fuzzy? by the same reasoning, anything that goes beyond just mentioning the word "sentience" becomes fuzzy. :confused: still we're defining something about being human, or what it means in general for life forms. sentience may not be the most correct word for it, but whatever is, our ability to control the external world matters since it's unique to humans or to our level of sentience/intelligence/civilization/whatever, as compared to the rest of the lifeforms in our ecosystem.

we do it about one billion thousand times more than them. i think that's more important than the absolutes. as i said, we'll never get absolute precision in our definition. we'll never be able to tell apart all imaginable instances of creature as intelligent or not. all we can do is point out some relevant phenomena, examine their connections and try to get a better understanding of the subject. and to minimize that grey area.

yeah, they just might have some hidden meta-cognition that never shows, because animals are cool and we humans think too much of ourselves. or something. yeah.

since you and cherry cola have demonstrated that "abstract thinking" doesn't have to mean anything at all, i must concede. every functioning input-output mechanism (extend as far as you'd like) uses abstract categories because not every potential data point in reality is relevant for any purpose given limitations upon computational resources. it would require an impossibly high amount of computational resources to not be forced to omit stuff from a representation/model/perception/description/state/criterion, thus making it abstract in a sense. "abstract categories" is not my definition of intuition, though. are you equivocating sir?

Cherry Cola
21st-October-2014, 04:47 PM
Yeah, but it's not our fault that abstract thinking is defined in such a way. To say that animals are not capable of abstract thinking in it's broad sense simply makes no sense whatsoever.

Looking at the Wiki article about meta-cognition one can safely say that animals are capable of some but not all forms of meta-cognition.

Grayman
21st-October-2014, 05:29 PM
Yeah, but it's not our fault that abstract thinking is defined in such a way. To say that animals are not capable of abstract thinking in it's broad sense simply makes no sense whatsoever.

Looking at the Wiki article about meta-cognition one can safely say that animals are capable of some but not all forms of meta-cognition.

Can an animal take their own life?

Cherry Cola
21st-October-2014, 05:44 PM
Yeah some bears in captivity have done it afaik.

Teax
21st-October-2014, 05:46 PM
why do you assume this makes it more fuzzy? by the same reasoning, anything that goes beyond just mentioning the word "sentience" becomes fuzzy.

no.. like I said, because your approach was not to define us by our abilities(thoughts) but by what we actually do(actions). so as we become smart enough to stop destroying the world we stop being human, which is a clue, for me, that the definition was a bit off (wait.. it actually sounded deliciously cynically right haha)

but point well taken, maybe it's the only way to actually be sure of anything ever at all.

Can an animal take their own life?

I heared captured dolphins do it too

Opium
21st-October-2014, 07:27 PM
...the possibility of another kind of consciousness.

Is there enough difference present between things to insularly define 'human"?

(I don't really know what, if anything, I'm asking here. More later.)

-Opium

Brontosaurie
22nd-October-2014, 03:32 AM
Yeah, but it's not our fault that abstract thinking is defined in such a way. To say that animals are not capable of abstract thinking in it's broad sense simply makes no sense whatsoever.

what's being argued here?

no.. like I said, because your approach was not to define us by our abilities(thoughts) but by what we actually do(actions). so as we become smart enough to stop destroying the world we stop being human, which is a clue, for me, that the definition was a bit off (wait.. it actually sounded deliciously cynically right haha)

but point well taken, maybe it's the only way to actually be sure of anything ever at all

i'm interested to see how you would base it on thoughts/abilities. what is an ability never exercised? the thought is in one person, but the whole of sentience/humanity/(can we call it Thing X from now on?) is a collective endeavour. and thoughts are tools for action, perhaps social action in particular. thus i'd rather focus on our abilities (or potential) as a species than slip into an infinite regress of subjectivity by expecting to find the answer in contemplation of the thought as such. maybe. not sure.

controlling it doesn't mean destroying it, right? so if we stop destroying, we haven't necessarily stopped being human.

Teax
22nd-October-2014, 09:10 AM
what is an ability never exercised?
exactly the problem you made me realize with my approach heh. still I have the gut feeling that it is better to define a vulcano by what's inside rather then the lava flow outside... even if it's not immediatelly obvious to us that way, that some things are volcanoes, it seems the "truth" just hidden from the eye.

controlling it doesn't mean destroying it, right? so if we stop destroying, we haven't necessarily stopped being human.
beevers control their environment aswell.

and thoughts are tools for action, perhaps social action in particular.
thought = tool, I agree completely. but why social action?

thus i'd rather focus on our abilities (or potential) as a species
I see, sounds like your example of progress is civilisation, mine is individualism.

You believe humans are just cells each having FactorX contributing to this huge living creature called "society" that has more capability then the FactorX in one human.
I believe FactorX is all there is... humans are like magnets with it's own magnetic field, and when we put several magnets together that point in the same direction we merely get a larger magnet, nothing more. (metaphors are fun)

sushi
14th-November-2014, 05:28 PM
23 pair chromosomes

Violine
17th-November-2014, 05:46 PM
On these kind of questions, you need to watch over the biology.

First, a human have 46 chromosomes. Not sure how many neanderthal's and so on did have.

No other animal can question about its existence, but I'm not 100% sure all human would do that either if not a smarter human in the beginning asked those questions.

7even
25th-November-2014, 09:34 AM
"Able to use tools"

"Ability to think, to reason"

All basically hinting at intelligence and self-consciousness (a sophistication of consciousness), that which differentiates us from animals (who have emotions and a lesser degree of consciousness).

Do you see large differences between apes and primitive people living in jungles?
Now compare to the great philosophers, artists, architects, and writers of the past.
Compare their environments, also... The differences in social, political, and economic organisation.

Robots, in foresight, will surpass human intelligence. Yet no flesh, blood, and bone. Different limitations, different creatures.