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Thread: Sapience/Sentience in animals

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    Sapience/Sentience in animals

    Animal intelligence has always fascinated me, and I came across a post about only 9 animals in the world that are self-aware according to the "mirror test".

    http://listnation.blogspot.ca/2012/0...elf-aware.html

    I know it's not the most official of sources, but I checked and stuff seems to be more or less correct in there.

    Even though they don't approach the animals on that list, I am very interested in cephalopod intelligence. As far as I can tell, octopi are the most intelligent, followed by cuttlefish, squid, and the Nautilus(not to bright at all if I recall) in that order.

    Anyone aware of any interesting research into animal intelligence? Video's, pictures, and articles all appreciated. There's a smart bunch here, so I thought someone might know something about this.

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    Not so much research, but you brought up octopuses and I was reminded of when I desperately wanted a pet octopus (before coming to the forlorn conclusion that I'm distinctly broke.)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocWF6d0nelY

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben268 View Post
    I know it's not the most official of sources, but I checked and stuff seems to be more or less correct in there..
    Not the most intelligently written of sources either, but perhaps the author was an octopus. The most difficult questions are how to compare intelligence between species, and the extent to which self-awareness is an indicator. Do we just use the same criteria we use for humans?

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    It's probably safe to say that human is the best organism on Earth at being human. Other than that, there doesn't seem to anything much that truly and absolutely unique to human animal as opposed to other animals. The differences are quantitative more than qualitative.

    Here is a discussion I started a while back on Rational Skepticism:
    http://www.rationalskepticism.org/ev...ess-t1143.html

    Some good insight there from most participants (until the armchair philosophers barge in ) + a lot of links to animal cognition studies a bit later on.
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    I've seen lot's of videos of Octopi opening jars, this is a new one Ripplemagne, thanks!

    I don't think self-awareness is the only indicator, but I would think it would be a pretty good one none-the-less. I suppose we would have to separate what makes us human from what makes us intelligent. This in itself is difficult because our defining trait is our intelligence.

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    Guilt Free (Make Love, Not War [see the Wiki article 'bonobo'])

    Quote Originally Posted by tnjrp View Post
    It's probably safe to say that human is the best organism on Earth at being human.
    I dunno. I kind of like the Bonobo chimps' approach to life. A lot more honest.

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    what about the problem solving birds descended from the cold north versions who outperform the same species decended from the easy going southerners? Admittedly all they did was lift a lid to get the peanut. But their southern cousins just pecked at it fruitlessly. and I hope everyone has seen the skateboarding dog on youtube? Self taught if you believe that, which seems reasonable for a smart dog. I saw a rat which could solve a maze by looking at it. And a parrot that counts. Is it so much of a surprise?

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    There are a great number of people typing in youtube comments. Someday we may know if they are intelligent.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    There are a great number of people typing in youtube comments. Someday we may know if they are intelligent.
    My theory is that YouTube was designed by researchers to find nonsentient humans for some kind of study. If so, it succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.
    "There are powers in this universe beyond anything you know. There is much you have to learn. Go to your homes. Go and give thought to the mysteries of the universe. I will leave you now, in peace." --Galaxy Being

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    It's the second stage of the infinite monkeys test.
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    Silly question and I think I have asked it before... Can you have intelligence without sapience or sentience?
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    That depends on what definition of the terms is chosen and how philosophically you like to approach the problem. Some of those who are extremely if not excessively fond of lounging on the philo-sofa seem to genuinely fear the possibility of a p-zombie, an at least apparently intelligent/sapient entity that is not sentient.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tnjrp View Post
    That depends on what definition of the terms is chosen and how philosophically you like to approach the problem. Some of those who are extremely if not excessively fond of lounging on the philo-sofa seem to genuinely fear the possibility of a p-zombie, an at least apparently intelligent/sapient entity that is not sentient.
    And my view is that unless there is some objective way distinguish a p-zombie (whether by differences in behavior, neural structure, or whatever), the whole issue is pointless. Without some objective methodology it becomes an invisible elf argument.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    Silly question and I think I have asked it before... Can you have intelligence without sapience or sentience?
    Without objective definitions of all three of those terms, I don't see any way to give a useful answer.

    "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." Abraham Lincoln

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben268 View Post
    Animal intelligence has always fascinated me, and I came across a post about only 9 animals in the world that are self-aware according to the "mirror test".

    http://listnation.blogspot.ca/2012/0...elf-aware.html
    Here's a self-aware robot (it passes the mirror test):

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/24525...are_sorta.html

    On the other hand, there are people that can point to themselves, distinguish themselves from others in conversation, etc. but would fail the mirror test either because of limited vision or specific visual neurological issues. I don't think the mirror test indicates much of anything beyond whether someone or something can pass the mirror test.

    "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." Abraham Lincoln

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    I've also understood that possibly a little too much stock has been put on the mirror test in the past. As for self-awareness itself, some sort of rudimentary self-awareness probably has evolved pretty early on since a significant portion of animals with any sort of nervous system to their credit appear to be aware of themselves as discrete entities. It's pretty obvious why this would a benefit to a complex organism that doesn't find beneficial to loose an arm and a leg, so to speak.
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    I have always been fascinated with the idea that a construct that appears sentient but isn't.

    By way of example, I often have dreams or nightmares where a person I am dreaming about to tells me I am dreaming. Obviously, "that dream person" is some aspect of me, but the effect (by dream logic) can be bizarre, alarming, humorous, etc.
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    There is a well-documented case of a border collie which can reliably identify over 1000 toys, individually, by name (how the dog's owner keeps track of them, I have no idea. A doggy toy database, perhaps?). With the same dog, if you toss a new toy into a room without his (her?) knowledge, tell him to get <insert new name here>, he will go into the room, and come back with nothing. Ask him again "where's <insert new name here>?" and he will go and get the new toy.

    Dogs, at least, may well be smarter than we think.
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    Personally, I find it hard to imagine that some animals, particularly cetaceans and primates, are NOT sentient. I think the trouble for us, as humans, is that we have no way to think or communicate on their terms. It is, however, likely that whales in particular would hold quite a bit of hatred towards us, and probably do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    Silly question and I think I have asked it before... Can you have intelligence without sapience or sentience?
    Yes, for a given definition of intelligence. Computers are very intelligent at Math, much more so than us, yet I would not describe any computer whose existence I am aware of as sentient.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ravens_cry View Post
    Yes, for a given definition of intelligence. Computers are very intelligent at Math, much more so than us, yet I would not describe any computer whose existence I am aware of as sentient.
    They are very intelligent at calculation, not math. There's a big difference. Though there has been some progress with automated theorem provers, it's still nothing in comparison.

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    I must really like animals, I always think of them as intelligent and sentient. Even bugs.

    I am always amused that my cats can tell a can is being opened, almost like magic. The sad part, for them, is this ability is rather generic. One of my cats is 18+ years old and he responds the same way to a can of tuna and a can of corn being opened. I suspect they just don't enough intelligence to tell the difference. Poor cats.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Siguy View Post
    It is, however, likely that whales in particular would hold quite a bit of hatred towards us, and probably do.
    It's an interesting question, but I have my doubts about it. Do prey feel hatred toward predators? Just personally speaking, I've never felt anything like hatred toward things like sharks or snakes or hornets, just fear. Personally speaking, hatred seems to be reserved for other members of the human species; it seems like it is a feeling that they should be kinder but aren't. Whereas with tigers, I don't have any belief that they should be kinder, so have never felt that they're being unjust. I would guess that a whale would feel fear toward us rather than hatred. Plus I also think that whales lack a historical record, so an individual whale would probably be unaware of what happened outside of its individual pod. Certainly whales don't have history books and so would be unaware of what was happening a century ago.
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    I must really like animals, I always think of them as intelligent and sentient. Even bugs
    Not sure about bugs but the idea that "higher" animals wouldn't be sentient (that is, capable of feeling and experience) has all but vanished over the last decade or so. Even from philosophy

    Sapience, or true understanding and ability to deeply analyze information, is somewhat more questionable among animals other than human. It seems quite obvious that humans are exceedingly good (AKA the bestest in the known nature) at symbolic information processing but probably not unique even in that regard.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ravens_cry View Post
    Yes, for a given definition of intelligence. Computers are very intelligent at Math, much more so than us.
    Is this any acceptable definition of intelligence? I really don't see how. Computers are incredibly stupid, and only do exactly what you instruct them to do, even when it is obvious nonsense. Their perceived intelligence is actually just being very fast morons.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Perikles View Post
    Is this any acceptable definition of intelligence? I really don't see how. Computers are incredibly stupid, and only do exactly what you instruct them to do, even when it is obvious nonsense. Their perceived intelligence is actually just being very fast morons.
    Well, someone who is good at math is considered intelligent, at least one kind of intelligence. Just like a human who can run 25 miles per hour is considered very fast, while a cheetah that ran that fas as their top speed would be considered crippled.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Perikles View Post
    Is this any acceptable definition of intelligence? I really don't see how. Computers are incredibly stupid, and only do exactly what you instruct them to do, even when it is obvious nonsense. Their perceived intelligence is actually just being very fast morons.
    One of the things discovered by AI researchers is how easy some of the activities we think of as signs of vast intellect are to develop into software, such as playing grandmaster level chess or doing calculus, while a lot of activities thought to be low-level are more difficult to program. Look at Galaxy Zoo and similar projects for a fairly cogent example.
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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    One of the things discovered by AI researchers is how easy some of the activities we think of as signs of vast intellect are to develop into software, such as playing grandmaster level chess or doing calculus,
    True, but what AI researches are researching is AI, not I. Artificial flowers are not flowers. Or are they?

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    I'm not sure that is an apt comparison.
    An artificial flower has to have only the appearance of a flower, while artificial intelligence has to preform some of the functions of intelligence.
    The strategies used, will likely play on a computers strengths, high speed calculations, just like Deep Blues strategies were different from a human players, but it will still need to be able to do things minds do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ravens_cry View Post
    An artificial flower has to have only the appearance of a flower, while artificial intelligence has to preform some of the functions of intelligence.
    Yes, good point. Bad comparison. Perhaps the A in AI is not the best adjective, but intelligence is a very difficult concept to define.

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