Re: How Robots Will Steal Your Job

Richard Heathfield wrote:


But we have looked *extremely* closely for many decades now.

My point exactly! (-:

ONLY by assuming we know of what it is made. Its mass is clear from its orbit and its volume from observation. But it could be a big hollow ball with a very dense core. Or a big ball of brie with a very dense core.

See, now that sounds like a snide remark, which is funny considering you seem to be getting bent out of shape about what I'm saying in this conversation...

And in the lab.

We do know they aren't making physical recordings of any kind. Most (if not all) human scientists do of necessity. They also don't appear to be concerned about sharing their findings.

Relax, Richard, it was a *joke*.

Which seems to call for another insult from you. Tch.
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Programmer Dude wrote:

<snip>
How exactly do we /know/ they're not making any physical recordings? Because we haven't seen any? That'd be like my brother saying that he /knows/ I don't own any white shirts (which I do) because he's never seen me wear one (which I don't).
Absense of evidence... ah, you must be sick of hearing that by now. You don't appear to be taking any notice of it anyway.
Regardless of that though, why is it required that they make physical recordings? How many "witch doctors" and "medice (wo)men" (your words elsethread) record their observations?
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Corey Murtagh wrote:

Never found any evidence of any.

But if he searched your house and found none, would it not be at least reasonable to suspect you owned none? Particularly if he searched your house a couple times to eliminate "at the cleaners" concerns.
We've been watching animals--some of us pretty closely--for a VERY long time. No recognizable science noted.

Because, while it may not be absolute proof, the *consistant* absence is--if nothing else--statistical evidence to--if nothing else--the *rarity* of something.
If I drive a car one thousand times and the tires don't explode, isn't it reasonable to suppose that tires don't normally explode? How about if I drive a car one hundred thousand times with no explosions?
At what point do *consistant* observations lead to confidence?

Not familiar enough with tribal cultures to answer accurately, but don't some of them have written "documents" of some kind? In any event, there is a training period (sometimes a good chunk of a lifetime) for the successor. I would imagine that cultures that lack writing rely on oral knowledge passing.
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Ah, but if I sat down in a chair and said "This chair will not fall through the floor." how would I prove it? (I know, come back every year or so and see if it fell through yet!)
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Programmer Dude wrote:

Presumably you mean that you've never found any evidence that you would /recognise/ as evidence.

It's not a great analogy. Here's a possible improvement: A says that he knows B doesn't have any good books. He's searched B's house, and found no good books. Books, yes. Good books, no. Just a load of meaningless junk piled up on bookshelves. But B might have a very different opinion, which he is unwilling/unable/not bothered enough to explain to A.

Quite so. But maybe - just maybe - that says more about our inability to recognise than it does about animal science. (I'm not maintaining that animals have developed a scientific culture. I'm merely pointing out that, even if they did, we quite possibly wouldn't recognise it when we saw it. I am put in mind of Gary Larson's notorious "cow tools" cartoon, which I thought very funny when I first saw it -- apparently it confused a lot of people, who couldn't work out what the tools were for, and thought they ought to be able to.)

Wear a blindfold, and you will see no evidence of colour. It is possible that we don't see intelligence in animals because we aren't looking properly. Sure, animals don't get drunk on a Saturday night or beat up old ladies; they don't watch football much, if at all; they don't do 65 in a 60; they don't even vote for politicians. AND YET the possibility remains that they might be intelligent.

An exploding tyre is obvious. Signs of animal intelligence (if it exists) are likely not to be quite so obvious. Our inability to recognise it does not constitute its non-existence.

It's a meaningless question in this context, because we cannot *know* that our observations are objective.
<snip>
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Programmer Dude wrote:

Who has? Please be precise. What percentage of the human population has been investigating animal intelligence on a proper scientific basis, and what percentage of the animal population has been studied?
I think you'll find that the answers, even if you manage to find any, are overwhelmingly likely to be vanishingly small.

It's an unconnected point, though.

Does it? That was not my intent. But the whole Brie thing was an irrelevant distraction about which I really do not care, in the context of this discussion.

I'm concerned that you appear to be using debating tricks to score points, rather than seeking insight through discussion.

Well, I don't suppose any animals that observe human scientists in the human scientist's lab are likely to live long enough to convey that information to their research community (if it exists), so I don't see your point here.

Do we? Perhaps they /do/ make physical recordings which we don't recognise as such. Or perhaps they don't. We don't actually know.

Perhaps they leave their findings in plain view. Perhaps they don't. Perhaps they discuss their findings in their own language. Perhaps they don't. Again, you make unjustifiable assumptions.

I'm perfectly relaxed, thanks.

I wasn't insulting you. I was merely describing what you are pleased to call a "joke". It seemed childish to me. I'm sorry if you find the description offensive. My children behave childishly, and I would be worried if they did not. There is nothing inherently insulting about the word. But the behaviour is appropriate to a child; it is less appropriate to an adult.
It seems to me that you are more interested in points-scoring than in a discussion which attempts to arrive at a better understanding of reality. I hope that is not the case. Please confirm one way or the other.
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Richard Heathfield wrote:

Scientists, naturalists and others who make this their life study.

Enough to have found something, I would think. What percentage of the population studies Computer Science or Medicine? Isn't it enough that there are some? There has been quite a bit of research on dolphins and whales, we've heard here about research into elephants and primates. These are the most likely candidates.
You just suggested we know a lot about planets. What percentage of planets have we even set foot on?

I think it's right on target. In both cases there is a fantastic suggestion that appears contrary to common sense, science and all observational history. In both cases, there's no way to really know for sure without "going there". In both cases, all the data seems to suggest a reasonable answer.
Sounds entirely relevant to me.

No, we don't actually know for sure, but it's a pretty reasonable guess they don't. Recordings suggest a symbology, and a symbology should be detectable as non-random.

Hmmm. I say "don't appear" and you say "perhaps". Seems we're both making suggestions rather than assumptions.
Does it not seem fantastic to imagine that their form of writing is *utterly* unrecognizable as such? We have crypto-analysts who can wade through what sure looks like binary gibberish and manage to find patterns. Is it so hard to imagine we could recognize a symbol system as being such JUST from its structure?

Calling me childish isn't insulting?

That's BS and I think you know it. Why is that you again seem to resort to personal attacks in a debate?
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Programmer Dude wrote:
<snip>

A cryptologist has the advantage of knowing - or at least assuming - certain things about what he's looking for. If I took a block of 'text' in a completely alien language (or something I made up which has meaning to me, has structure, etc. but resembles no known language) and encrypted it with a medium encryption algo, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who could decrypt it.
Of course if it's just 'xor each character with some repeating sequence' or somesuch then they'll crack it in no time. In fact there's a good chance that they'd crack it anyway... and fail to recognize the fact, if the plaintext is unrecognizable as such.
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Corey Murtagh wrote:

Absolutely. What I was getting at is *how* crypto-analysts work in decoding a cypher: they look for patterns. And because language *has* patterns, decryption is often possible. We saw that happen in this group recently, remember?
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Programmer Dude wrote:

How many man-years have been devoted to this, altogether?

On what criteria? Human criteria, presumably.

We don't know all that much about planets, actually. We don't even know whether they are intelligent! If we take Chardin literally (if you haven't read "The Phenomenon of Man", skip this sentence, which isn't vital), and if he is right, then planets might even have an elemental consciousness of their own. To answer your question, we've probably set foot on around 11% of the planets in this Solar System (depending on whether we've discovered them all yet, and what you count as a planet, and so on).

I don't think the concept of animal intelligence is "fantastic". You obviously do. We can easily settle the Pluto Brie question by "going there", but the question of animal intelligence is not so easily settled.

Consider the rather limited semi-permanent marking materials or equipment with which typical animals are equipped. Have residues of such materials ever been studied with a view to analysing possible informational content? You might look and not find out, but you won't find out unless you look.

If you are merely suggesting that animals may not be intelligent, then I wholeheartedly agree with you. They may not be.

Does it not seem terribly human of us to completely fail to recognise the medium for their form of writing (if it exists)?

No, provided that we look in the right place. The problem is that we don't know what the right place is, or even whether that "right place" exists.

No. It's a description, not an insult. You have had several people point out the logical fallacy that you are making, and you appear to have your hands over your ears. This is childish behaviour. That doesn't mean I think any less of you. We are all childish from time to time.

No, it isn't. See above.

Hmmm. I seem to recall that you accused me (wrongly!) of "blowing smoke" - i.e. being deceitful. I haven't accused you of deceit, nor have I accused you of stupidity, and (as far as I can see) those are just about the only two meaningful personal attacks that can exist on Usenet. So I don't think I've attacked you at all. I /have/, however, attacked your arguments. That's called "debate".
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It wasn't lately, but I did see a white squirrel. I didn't know that was one their scientists!
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Programmer Dude wrote: <snip>

You could ask the same question about some of the current human tribal groups. Where is their science? For the most part they don't have what the average western thinker would consider 'Science,' just a bunch of superstitions. Where are their scientists? Well, since they don't have science, they don't need scientists do that? :>
From memory it wasn't until the greeks managed to free up some time a few thousand years ago that we actually started to consider science as a worthwhile pursuit. It took us most of those few thousand years to come up with something that a modern scientist would recognize as science.
I figure it was mostly the Renaissance that gave us modern science. The ideas were mostly there, they just got organized a little differently.
So... science, in a form we'd consider as such, has been around for a few thousand years, but most of the developments have happened in the last couple of hundred years. If estimates of the age of Homo Sapiens Sapiens (and it's precursor species) are correct, that's a little tiny blip at the end of a lot of nothing.
So where are all the dolphin scientists? Maybe they haven't been invented yet.
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Maybe they're too busy building developing space ships to leave the earth before it get's destroyed to be 'communicating' with humans:
i) jumping through hoops in Florida ii) playing beside boats pretty much anywhere nice to be
...and the all time favourite...
iii) suffocating themselves in trawler nets.
Ian Woods
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Corey Murtagh wrote:

Typically in their "witch doctors" and "medicine (wo)men".
Think about what "science" really is: the observation of the world in which we live and the attempt to *understand* and *codify* those observations.
Mankind has been doing that since it's been intelligent, and the understanding has gotten ever better (largely due, I think, to improved tools and, moreso, on building on previous successes and failures).
The quest for understanding is--to me--one of the hallmarks of humanity. We wonder "why" things happen. We wonder about basic causes of effects we observe. WHY does lightning make a sound? WHY is it hard to breath when you climb a mountain. WHY can birds fly. WHY do women have babies. WHY does the sun rise.
And so on. I see no evidence of this in the animal kingdom.

I think I might use "profession" rather than "pursuit", because I think "scientists" (as I define science) have existed all along. It was the Greeks who began to codify and record, and it was the Greeks who begain to explore the realms of philosphy, thought and rationality.

Sure! By then there were people who make a life profession out of studying, and trying to understand, the world around them.
But I think I see a continuum that stretches very far back into our history. Maybe one way to say it is that it was around this time in our history we *began* to truly understand.

Yes, fascinating isn't it? In my grandfather's lifetime, we went from invention of the automobile to walking on the moon!

It may also be that you need good manipulators (like hands) to truly study your environment. I've also read the suggestion that the invention of fire might be necessary for "civilized society", although I forget the rationale behind the idea.
It may also be that a written language is required for science to progress, because oral history and memory may not suffice for all the details. Further, the invention of symbols and mathematics seems required to pursue science.
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Programmer Dude wrote:

Precisely. But how many western thinkers consider recognize tribal knowledge as 'science'? And that's just between humans. How many /human/ thinkers would recognize an /animal/ science?

Although there is a certain human bias in that statement, I largely agree. Now how do we prove that no animal does such a thing?

Back to the old "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" argument.

I guess it depends on your definition of "civilized society." It also depends on whether fire is a valid tool in your environment... which it wouldn't be for an underwater species, and at best is likely to be in a form we don't recognize for the denizens of a gas giant.
As I understand it, the measure is more about whether you have a way of influencing your environment. Fire was one of our earliest tools for doing so... but I think it's more a technological rather than sociological device.

This is true for a species with faulty memory, since you need some way to preserve knowledge that would otherwise be corrupted or lost. But if all humans had perfect memory, writing would only be useful to convey information more efficiently. And if your natural communication method allows you to transfer a complex concept quickly, why bother writing?
Robert L Forward wrote an interesting book called "Flight of the Dragonfly" (first in a series) in which he described a sea-dwelling alien species of immense intellect. They communicated and viewed their environments primarily by high frequency sonar, but could also communicate complex concepts by transferring chemical memory. Such creatures would never discover fire since it's incompatible with their environment, would never need to write since they could communicate directly with better efficiency, but nothing would stop them from developing a complex civilization... if they found a need for it.
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Programmer Dude wrote:

Now let a dolphin ask a two-year-old human, in dolphin-clicks, what its favourite food or colour is. It is expected to reply in dolphin-clicks. Failure to respond correctly will be taken as conclusive proof that humans are not intelligent.
FCOL.
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et. al.
Holy cow! I just noticed, reading back through all the posts on this thread, that one of the posts came from a sentient computer!!! Did you see which one? Or did you miss it?
Oh, the agony! Oh, the irony! Oh, the humanity!
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Richard Heathfield wrote:

No, in both cases the subjects in question may do whatever they can to achieve communication.

FCOL, yourself.
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Programmer Dude wrote:

Then you are proving nothing. Two-year-old humans will reply to questions in their native language, using their native language. We know that. We don't know whether infant dolphins do the same, and I don't see that we'll ever know, without first learning how to communicate with dolphins, at which point the whole issue will be moot anyway. But even if they didn't, it would prove precisely nothing, since dolphin culture, if it exists, is likely to be very (and perhaps unfathomably) different to our own.
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Richard Heathfield wrote:

Consider that the child speaks a foreign language. The point is that two truly intelligent entities can work out ways and means of communicating. Even my dog and I have done so...to a *very* limited degree.

How did infant dolphins come into the picture? This is the first mention of them. I was comparing communication with adult dolphins to a two-year-old human and suggesting there was more intelligence *evident* in the human.

People are indeed working very hard on this and rather simplistic communication HAS been achieved. A real question is, if they are highly intelligent, why is the progress so simplistic?
The most reasonable answer (I believe) is that the animal mind is (intellectually) simplistic.

Agree with different. Not so sure about unfathomable (although it DOES make a nice pun! :-). I very much suspect that minds capable of exploring quantum weirdness would be able to fathom a carbon-based, earthling, DNA-shared species.
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