Are You Alive?

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Kielicious
 
Reply Thu 21 Jan, 2010 02:15 pm
@QuinticNon,
QuinticNon;121590 wrote:

That's all computer programs do, is bear intentionality. They bear the intentions of the original programmer. Those programmers pursuing A.I. are intentionally programming decision making faculties within the A.I., so that it can express its own intentions when confronted by stimuli, rather than just reacting to stimuli. The difference is cause/reaction vs thought/action.


There are multiple ways to define intentionality and I think he was refering to intentionality as 'aboutness' which desktop computers probably dont have, but I'll have to let Z answer for himself.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Thu 21 Jan, 2010 02:21 pm
@Kielicious,
Kielicious;121635 wrote:
There are multiple ways to define intentionality and I think he was refering to intentionality as 'aboutness' which desktop computers probably dont have, but I'll have to let Z answer for himself.


Intentionality is the power of minds to be about, to represent, or to stand for, things, properties and states of affairs. Basically, computers cannot possess semantics - they do not have the capacity to interpret meaning, as humans understand meaning.
 
QuinticNon
 
Reply Thu 21 Jan, 2010 02:33 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;121602 wrote:
I think I've heard of this theory, but can you cite a source?


Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?
"ABSTRACT. This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a "posthuman" stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed."


Zetherin;121602 wrote:
...you don't have to experience something to know you aren't/haven't been something.


But how does the actual concept even arise without it first having been experienced? Would not a lacking experience preclude the concept of being shot? You may not have experienced being shot "directly", but you nonetheless have experienced being shot indirectly through the harrowing tales of another. No concept of "being shot" could exist otherwise.

Is the indirect experience any less experiential than a direct experience? You've got all the data you need to understand that you don't want to be shot. The essence of the experience has been communicated successfully enough that you can even transmit the essence of meaning onward to another person. It is no less potent after a thousand transmissions.

Zetherin;121602 wrote:
And you can know you aren't dead without ever having experienced death.


Ditto my above reply. How did the concept of death even arise if not from direct or indirect experience? We observe a phenomenon. We must therefor experience that phenomenon. We call it death. We have described our observation by titling the phenomenon with the word death. Thus, we have previously experienced death, for the concept could not arise without first having experienced it.

Zetherin;121602 wrote:
Are you asking what consciouness is? Well, it is a phenomenon that we don't quite understand the details of (yet). But that does not mean we don't know which things are conscious and which things are not. We are conscious, rocks are not.


When administering cognitive testing, aside from the various motor skills and sensory perception tests, there are at least 70 different language tests that may also be given. The ability to form thought into language is considered paramount when deciding if consciousness is present.

Thus, humans are conscious when rocks are not because humans have the ability to author code.

Zetherin;121602 wrote:
So, computer programs intentionally do things? You believe this?


Not in the manner you suggest, in that "programs" are sentient entities with the ability to express their own intentions. But yes, "programs intentionally do things". They do them by the intentions of their original programmer. Programs are the embodiment of intentions.

Programs are a physical structure of symbolic code that is used as a tool to express the non-physical intentions (thought) of their original creator.

Zetherin;121602 wrote:
Do you think everything bears intentionality, then?


If I see a code, then there must be intentions. If there is no code, there cannot possibly be intentions.

Zetherin;121602 wrote:
If I swing a bat, did the bat intentionally swing on its own?


The bat is not a code. The bat cannot express intentions. It has no mechanism to do such a thing with. However, the bat can be used as a medium to express thoughtful intentions of its creator by way of imprinting the logo "Louisville Slugger". There be the code. And it expresses the intentions of someones mind.
 
BabyBear phil
 
Reply Thu 21 Jan, 2010 04:49 pm
@QuinticNon,
"Je pense, donc je suis." (I think, therefore I am.) -Descartes

I suppose the problem with "knowing" you are alive is that first you must define knowledge, then you must define life/alive. And even that isn't infallible. We like to think of definitions as concrete, but we come up with them don't we?

Biologically speaking, something is alive if it can reproduce. After all, viruses are not considered by most biologists as alive because they are obligate parasites (ie: they literally cannot live or reproduce without a host). But this definition may in time change as well. I mean, viruses are there. They are something. They do reproduce... somehow. Maybe someday they'll be considered alive, maybe not.

Now, on a more personal level, how do I know I am alive and not dead? Well, then I suppose you could turn to Descartes' definition. I am here to think about being alive, so I must exist. But that is a very subjective viewpoint. Computers can't think. They can't think about being alive... unless somehow programmed to. What about artificial intelligence? This still exists in the realm of science fiction right now, but it might some day become a real question. If Data from Star Trek: TNG were real, would he be alive? No? Why not? Because he was made artificially? Because he can't die? Maybe you can't be alive unless you can experience death, kind of like Seneca was getting at.

I guess the point here is that I don't know. And maybe you can't really know that you are alive (again, depending on how you define knowledge). You can believe it, certainly. You can "know" it in that all evidence points in that direction. But does it make it truth? On the subjective, experience side of things, it doesn't. If you define life on the biological side, you're alive because you are capable of reproducing... because that's the current definition of life. But, then, that might even be subject to change or debate some day.
 
QuinticNon
 
Reply Thu 21 Jan, 2010 07:35 pm
@BabyBear phil,
Thank you for the courteous and thoughtful response. Well said BabyBear.



BabyBear;121676 wrote:
"Je pense, donc je suis." (I think, therefore I am.) -Descartes


No doubt. I propose language as the mechanistic tool which allows thinking to manifest. We can all claim "thought", but can we all demonstrate the mechanism that makes thought possible? I want to know the physical mechanism that allows us to know we are alive.

I've spoken much about language here and other posts so I'll try not to repeat. I will add anew however.

Thinking capacity is proportionally related to language capacity. Levels of consciousness are presented from those relationships. A bumblebee is conscious, directly because he has the ability to author the figure 8 waggle dance. The bumblebee is authoring code. His dance encodes for distance, direction, wind velocity, and even suggests an optimal route to find the pollen. The message is decoded by other bumblebees and in turn the word is spread, and a troop goes out to collect.

This demonstrates a Will and Desire within the bumblebee.

Ants, on the other hand, have not demonstrated the ability to author code. Individually, they seem as automatons, with all "apparent communication" taking place under the control of sensory equipment reacting to stimuli... just switches and triggers, but no thought, no language, no intentions, and no code. Interestingly though, when the entire ant colony is looked at as a whole, then it does (as a colony) in fact show debatable signs of being aware.

A baby is not as conscious as an adult. The more the baby increases her abstract reasoning of symbolic association (language), then the more she will become conscious.

Whale Song, Wolf Howls, Dolphin Squawk, Bird Calls... all different levels of conscious thinking ability base purely upon their capacity to author code. To describe, to warn, to predefine physical reality into existence.

BabyBear;121676 wrote:
I suppose the problem with "knowing" you are alive is that first you must define knowledge, then you must define life/alive.


Agreed.

BabyBear;121676 wrote:
Biologically speaking, something is alive if it can reproduce. After all, viruses are not considered by most biologists as alive because they are obligate parasites (ie: they literally cannot live or reproduce without a host). But this definition may in time change as well.


Biology has new considerations from Genetics. And yes, the definition of being alive is under debate. Genetics would tell you that nothing alive is without a genetic code. Virus' have genetic codes.

An oddly queer and much overlooked attribute about codes is that they also reproduce. No kidding... Just looking at a code reproduces it in your mind. Not so silly if you really pause to think about it.

BabyBear;121676 wrote:
Now, on a more personal level, how do I know I am alive and not dead? Well, then I suppose you could turn to Descartes' definition. I am here to think about being a live, so I must exist.


And so, ultimately, if thinking is indeed a process of creating a thought, and that thought is the product of some degree of sentient authorship, then what Descartes really implies... is... "I author, therefor I am"... No?

BabyBear;121676 wrote:
Computers can't think. They can't think about being alive... unless somehow programmed to.


Yes indeed. And yet somehow they (we) were programmed to. The fact is that our genetic code defined us long ago with the ability to "think" about being alive. We are flesh and blood computers ourselves. Perhaps the bumblebee was not programmed with this ability, or his language is not expansive enough to embrace the concept.

In effect, we are the A.I. In that, an original program got us started. And our entire physical lives are spent adding to and authoring our own code as we go along. Like a good little A.I., we are defining our being beyond that which authored us into existence. Let's face it, our desire for A.I. is for it to end up being just like ourselves, or worse, the super intelligence that becomes the God we made by our own hands. What parent doesn't want their child to become greater than they are?

BabyBear;121676 wrote:
What about artificial intelligence? This still exists in the realm of science fiction right now, but it might some day become a real question.


Actually great strides have been made with computer simulations in the field of A.I. Programmers have succeeded in A.I. digibots controlling their own mutations in order to compete for a prize. They can actually learn from their poor designs and author new mutations to help them win the next round. I believe virus's may play the same type of game.

BabyBear;121676 wrote:
If Dats from Star Trek: TNG were real, would he be alive? No? Why not? Because he was made artificially?


What if I suggested that all life is artificial? Would you consider that all life has code, all code is sentient authored, all sentient authored code is created from mind, and anything created from mind could be considered as artificial, and thus not natural from nature?

BabyBear;121676 wrote:
Because he can't die? Maybe you can't be alive unless you can experience death, kind of like Seneca was getting at.


I was getting at the same thing.

BabyBear;121676 wrote:
You can "know" it in that all evidence points in that direction. But does it make it truth?


If there is a physical mechanism that explains it without paradox, then yes, that makes it truth. It may not be all the truth, but it is another layer peeled away from the truth onion. I propose language capacity as the physical mechanism that allows "knowing" to be possible.

BabyBear;121676 wrote:
On the subjective, experience side of things, it doesn't. If you define life on the biological side, you're alive because you are capable of reproducing... because that's the current definition of life. But, then, that might even be subject to change or debate some day.


That's why we need a physical mechanism, in order to overcome the subjective interpretations. Like a math equation is a physical mechanism to avoid subjective interpretations about gravity or energy. We also need a physical mechanism to avoid subjective interpretations about what "thought" and "knowing" are.

And yes... Biology is being challenged about what the definition of being alive really is. Biology is the discipline that spread the myth about life being a process of "just add water"... Not.
 
HexHammer
 
Reply Fri 26 Feb, 2010 05:00 am
@QuinticNon,
QuinticNon;121463 wrote:
How can you know?
Imo it's my sences that tells me I'm alive, all 5 of them.
 
 

 
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