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Old 07-15-2013, 05:58 PM
 
Location: USA
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What is self awareness? Are animals self aware? To what degree do they know who we are and who they are in comparison to us? Is consciousness and self awareness the same thing or part of the same thing?

Robots just act our their programming. When "robots" become "conscious", what does that mean? That they realized that they are robots and we are humans? That they are made of metal and we are made of bio material?

Or are they considered conscious when they can go beyond the programming? And what does that mean? I think we have self modifying programs now (or so I heard). So to go beyond would be what, to go AGAINST what you were programmed to do?

I think in some sense, this is what the spiritual teachers and gurus are teaching us to do. To live by the spirit, to do something that is truly good for you and something you really want instead of just acting out our programming. Sometimes we do something and regret it later, or not understand why we did it, or why we felt it. I think this shows that we are not that self aware.

I propose that humans are closer to animals than they realize. Animals (as we believe) act on instinct. They just do it because their program tells them to. From observing humans, it feels that in many cases we do the same thing. Even our desires are a part of the program. A good example: sex drive. It's beyond our control. It controls us.

Whenever we want to do one thing (or believe it would be good to do), for example over-eating vs not... but we do what our body wants because we can't help it. Isn't this what robots also do? Just act out their programming?

So to be conscious, is it to want to do one thing while observing your body doing something else?


I think that at the moment many humans believe that they are an irreducible (unexplainable) living being. I mean, yes, we can explain how the body works. What about something we call the soul or the heart (when people say: listen to your heart)? Perhaps we will be considered more "self aware" when we finally figure out what soul is? I think that we are not self aware very much since we don't understand the details of how we work and how we are.

Is spider conscious? I think that a spider is just a simple program which has a limited range of responses in programmed into it and it reacts according to the program when it encounters outside stimuli.

I think that a human is a similar program but just much more complex, with much more responses programmed within it and some randomness added it which makes things interesting.


So, I see a human being as a set of many many different things working together. We have many different little sub programs which run inside of us (so to speak). And when a person acts one way one time and a different way at a different time, in a different situation, it could be that a different program is running inside (not the same as which ran before that). And sometimes the person has inner conflict and it's because all these different programs did not learn well how to work together. So one of them wants to do what it was programmed to do and the other program wants to do what it was programmed to do. And at the end, which program wins? I think that sometimes it's a matter of chance and good luck/bad luck. And sometimes the links are missing between programs and the person acts a bit strange. And sometimes the programs are linked really well and work together well and efficiently. This person seems most reasonable, most rounded off, most easier to deal with.

We calculate our decisions and our reactions. If we keep running into the same problem, one of the programs inside of us evaluates the pattern and gives out a result: keep away from this situation, it's not bringing good results. So a person says: (so to speak): I was in three relationships where all three men were not nice to me. So the person's brain calculates the result based on this data: men are bad, stay away from men.
But then some other information gets written to this person's program, expanding the calculations range and it says: there are many good men, look at all these examples. So the person's computer brain takes that new information into account and re-calculates: not all men are bad, there are a few good ones.

But then it calculates the chances of meeting a good one based on the pattern and produces a response: not a good chance...may as well give up (end this search program and run the more useful program: like focus on work, it's more productive to the organism overall (the body).

some people are considered brave. But it simply means that the fear program did not run or was not the predominant one at the time.

Some people are considered cowards. But it simply means that the fear program was the dominant program running and won over all the other ones.

Some people seem brave and make foolish decisions because their brain at that time is not linked to the program which usually calculates risks and consequences. So in some cases, people are brave exactly because they are dumb (too dumb to know the risks)

Some are cowards because they are highly aware of risks and their brain calculates that the safest route is the best result for the overall system.

Society puts stigma on cowards because people who don't like to take risks are not always as useful to society. So society, as an organism, with a mind of its own (so to speak), says: I don't want cowards, they don't allow me to accomplish what I want, so I will make that behavior seem as negative.... Then peer pressure comes into play and forces some of the cowards to behave a bit more brave (or foolish, take your pick).

Some people run into a person's burning house and save someone? Usually because a program kicked in which said: saving human life is most important.... And the other program was not connected (the one which calculates risks and makes rational decisions). Mothers are very famous for being disconnected from rational assessment programs. Their program which says: save the child at any cost would run dominant over all others. But then there are other people who have two programs working together: save person AND calculate risks. And then the decision becomes more difficult and more time consuming.

Anyways, humans act and think and wish more like computing machines than they currently realize. And all this "free will" talk and "you could do better if you wanted to" talk is going on because they don't realize it.

What about people who do bad things and then regret it? It's like a part of them did it, a part of them didn't want to do it. Did they have free will? Maybe the part of them which did it had free will? But at other times, this same person could do a good thing and a part of him maybe didn't want to. So then, his good part had free will for that moment? So then what, parts of him have free will at different times?
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Old 07-15-2013, 08:05 PM
 
Location: Central Bay Area, CA as of Jan 2010...but still a proud Texan from Houston!
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I can tell you that animals once they get old and lose some reasoning abilities have no self awareness. I had a very old cat that had gone blind and deaf in his last two years of life. Even with these handicaps he still wanted to go outside and roam...he seemed to be completely unaware of his handicaps even when he walked off of rocks and would fall a foot or more. Or that he could not find my house and end up at my neighbors house screaming at their front door. Poor little creature.
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Old 07-16-2013, 11:19 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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You are asking a lot of different questions here about free will, the nature of sentience, etc. But I suppose what it boils down to is, if we could build a powerful enough computer with enough resources and organized along the correct lines, could we reproduce human self awareness and would this entity have hopes, dreams, aspirations, and (*cough*) rights equivalent to a human?

My guess is yes, but we are a long way off from it. I think what we will produce over the next century or two will be able to do a good imitation of self awareness and independent learning, but an imitation nonetheless.

We humans want to be fooled. Build a biped that looks roughly human and has good facial expression and teach it some very basic tricks and we'll willingly adopt it as a member of the family, like we do with pets. My concern is that if it's sufficiently human-like it may have some unintended side effects such as getting us used to treating human-like things as ... just things. Some of this may transfer to real humans, particularly if they are lacking in education and finances. But then again, this already happens in the form of migrant / immigrant workers and such, so who knows.

The reason for my guess is my experience as a software developer, extrapolating from the current state of the art in software and hardware and artificial intelligence research, with a healthy dose of cynicism (if we still have computers freezing up or programs crashing over something as simple as viewing web content, what basis is there to think we could build reliable replica humanoids with even simple capabilities).

At this point we don't even understand how the human brain stores and retrieves data beyond a vague idea that it is holographic and distributed in nature. We have neural networks, finite state automata, and the like to play with, and we keep making faster and smaller computing hardware all the time. And there is a great deal of power to leverage through networking. And robotics is making great strides.

It'll be interesting to see what comes of all this in the 20 or 30 years I have left on this earth, but I think the big advances are too far off for me to see the sort of moral dilemmas envisioned in works of fiction like I, Robot where robots have actual feelings and start to agitate for their own rights. Or to see the world predicted by Ray Kurzweil, where we will upload ourselves into machines and just keep going forever. (He sees this as happening rather suddenly within the next decade or two because sometime after this decade there will be more computing power on earth than human brainpower; he confuses processing power with effective use of that power however).
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Old 07-16-2013, 01:20 PM
 
Location: USA
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I think that we are more computerized (inside) than we think.

Understanding how to build a robot who may resemble what we do, will help us understand what we are.
And that's when we will become truly self aware.

But our problem with treating others well, yes, that is a big problem. Black people in the past were seen as less than humans. Women were seen as less than men in some sense.

And I think that if we get a license to create a lifeform, we would also have to sign a contract stating our promise to treat it with certain rights.

Even with adopting animals they now have you sign contracts to not do certain things.

I think it's like a game license (when you buy a game). The license means you can play it, but you don't have a right to do anything else with it.

Some of the things that we see as our property is actually not our property, but just a permission to interact with it.

This has to be in place when we reach the stage of creating life forms of any sort.

Just because we create something, it doesn't give us the right to abuse it. Although some people think it's ok for God to abuse us just because he created us (supposedly). But others realize that it's not ok.
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Old 07-16-2013, 02:02 PM
 
Location: Central Bay Area, CA as of Jan 2010...but still a proud Texan from Houston!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveWisdom View Post
I think that we are more computerized (inside) than we think.

Understanding how to build a robot who may resemble what we do, will help us understand what we are.

And that's when we will become truly self aware.
The way to become truly self aware is through practicing deep inner self reflection, deep meditation, letting go of distractions and attachments. Freeing yourself from the conditionings that all of us are subject to when we are born.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveWisdom View Post
But our problem with treating others well, yes, that is a big problem. Black people in the past were seen as less than humans. Women were seen as less than men in some sense.
Yep have to agree with you here... humans for the most part have not evolved much in this department.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveWisdom View Post
And I think that if we get a license to create a lifeform, we would also have to sign a contract stating our promise to treat it with certain rights.

Even with adopting animals they now have you sign contracts to not do certain things.

I think it's like a game license (when you buy a game). The license means you can play it, but you don't have a right to do anything else with it.
You can't be serious Humans signing a contract does not equate to compliance with respect to how they treat something. Go and check out what is happening to lab animals who were bought under contract.

Lastly since humans have not evolved much in how they treat others what makes you think a contract is going to change that?
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Old 07-17-2013, 01:27 PM
 
Location: USA
1,590 posts, read 1,727,737 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVC15 View Post

Lastly since humans have not evolved much in how they treat others what makes you think a contract is going to change that?
It's better than nothing. Or is there a better idea to keep humans from acting like humans that they are?

A contract would be enforceable by penalties (like if you abuse your children, they can be taken away from you for example).
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Old 07-17-2013, 06:56 PM
 
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Some higher-brained non-human animals, like elephants, do show evidence of being self-aware. We should keep in mind that humans generally don't show signs self awareness until after the age of 2 years. This tends to suggest it's a learned trait that might not manifest given the right socio/environmental circumstances.
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Old 07-17-2013, 09:17 PM
 
Location: Twin Cities (StP)
3,017 posts, read 1,863,643 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVC15 View Post
I can tell you that animals once they get old and lose some reasoning abilities have no self awareness. I had a very old cat that had gone blind and deaf in his last two years of life. Even with these handicaps he still wanted to go outside and roam...he seemed to be completely unaware of his handicaps even when he walked off of rocks and would fall a foot or more. Or that he could not find my house and end up at my neighbors house screaming at their front door. Poor little creature.
My Grandpa was like your cat after 8 years of Alzheimer's (he had no idea what was going on), he didn't even know my dad (his son), it was quite sad.... I would say that animals are definitely self aware at some point in their life. I was watching a documentary the other night that claimed elephants suffer from PTSD after watching their "herd" (I am not sure what their family group is called) get murdered by humans. I feel like humans marginalize other species because their form of communication is not as complicated as ours. However, there is a reason they are millions of years old, while we're only thousands.
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Old 07-17-2013, 11:21 PM
 
Location: Central Bay Area, CA as of Jan 2010...but still a proud Texan from Houston!
7,484 posts, read 8,680,673 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveWisdom View Post
It's better than nothing. Or is there a better idea to keep humans from acting like humans that they are?

A contract would be enforceable by penalties (like if you abuse your children, they can be taken away from you for example).
Really?.. and who is going to police this? Do you know how many children are abused every second and no one even knows about it. A contract is not going to do anything.
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Old 07-17-2013, 11:25 PM
 
Location: Central Bay Area, CA as of Jan 2010...but still a proud Texan from Houston!
7,484 posts, read 8,680,673 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grizzly Addams View Post
My Grandpa was like your cat after 8 years of Alzheimer's (he had no idea what was going on), he didn't even know my dad (his son), it was quite sad.... I would say that animals are definitely self aware at some point in their life. I was watching a documentary the other night that claimed elephants suffer from PTSD after watching their "herd" (I am not sure what their family group is called) get murdered by humans. I feel like humans marginalize other species because their form of communication is not as complicated as ours. However, there is a reason they are millions of years old, while we're only thousands.
Yes I completely agree that animals have self awareness. My cat in his later years had awareness of his food and where to use the bathroom but seemed to have no self awareness of his limitations of being deaf and blind even when he was limited by them.

Elephants are really interesting creatures. They even pick up the bones of dead elephant's and hold them with their trucks as if they are remembering an old lost family member or friend.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=TjtrdpSwEUY

http://www.newscientist.com/article/...l#.Ued-qHLn-Uk

Last edited by TVC15; 07-17-2013 at 11:39 PM..
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