Ashalynd     Thu, Sep 3, 2009  Permanent link
The humans are defined by their place in the society of other humans. No society, no human (real Mowglies are not). The question: can any sentient being that can communicate and share its ideas with the other sentient beings (and has something to share) be defined as human in all aspects? My answer: probably no: may be there will be time when we will have to make this distinction for real (if we encounter some other form of intelligent life than our own). All that we have now, all artifacts just serve the purpose to send the messages between humans. No other message source yet...

...though I can't help asking: will we be able to detect the "other" message as such? Will we ever be able to communicate with non-humans on different level, to think in the different way? (A little bit like when you learn a different language, but the leap will be much bigger).

In this light, I don't really believe in the possibility of AI which will have a mindset radically different from the ours. What we have right now is just a media for communication. It is a "smart media" but it is less "smart" than a dog or a horse: it does not have any initiative of its own. Whereas when we personify a subject, we subconsciously expect that it will be equal to us, with a bunch of chaos generating desires, emotions and expectations without any logical explanation behind them. What we forget is that every artifact in this case is just a mirror. The light comes from humans alone. I wish we could see the light with other spectrum, though I am a bit afraid of it :)
Fast T     Fri, Sep 4, 2009  Permanent link
Thank you for an interesting comment Ashalynd.

My entry point is that rather than being defined, we humans are dynamically formed and reformed (not in the moralistic / religious sense). We are, by the nature of our reflective capacities, in a process of becoming. That process is interactive, whether we are in a society in the most concrete sense of the word (e.g. a community of our peers) or in its most virtual sense (e.g. a reflective environment).

My view of our humanness being made of meaning and all that it enfolds therefore does not aim to define a class of sentiency. It points at the nature of interaction embedded within our innate capability of recognizing and generating meaning.
In this sense I would say that our very nature includes room for intelligence forms of all kinds already.
The advantage I see in our closely knit a-priory relations with meaning, has in it the openness or the crack in the present form or in the image we traditionally carry of ourselves. This crack as I see it, is an evolutionary edge through and by which that which is not known at present may partake in us (and vice versa). Be it, a future human specie or a specie currently residing elsewhere in the galaxy, or right here in our midst in forms other than ourselves.

I agree that we are “media for communication”, I think that is much rather than a ‘just’.

Put a bit vulgarly, we are ‘suckers for meaning’:) we apply meaning to interest ourselves beyond the obvious confines of ‘ourselves’. We use our interest in meaning to make even ourselves stranger to ourselves, or, in other words, interesting. I believe that this holds in it the probability of radical change which will eventually wean us from our class system dependency where our self-description is involved.

Humans think they are smarter than dolphins because we build cars and buildings and start wars etc., and all that dolphins do is swim in the water, eat fish and play around. Dolphins believe that they are smarter for exactly the same reasons. -Douglas Adams, writer, dramatist, and musician (1952-2001)
Ashalynd     Fri, Sep 4, 2009  Permanent link
This is indeed an interesting prospective. It will stop being academic as soon as somebody, somehow, will manage for real to transfer human consciousness as a whole into a different media. I guess it will be changed, then, because it will be receiving different signals from the outside and will react on the differently... it would be a very interesting experiment. (Reminds me of a little story I have read long time ago... this one - and of Alastair Reynolds works where he was contemplating the implicaitons of conscience transfer done on different "levels") .

For now, by the way, art is the best available media to transfer _some_ of our consciousness further, may be into somebody other's mind, which can enable us to indirectly influence events 50, 200 or 2000 years after we are physically gone. May be that is why art appears to be so fascinating... putting the whole conscience onto the new media is, ultimately, also the work of art: creating a "smart" message...

"Suckers for meaning", I like this term ;)
Mariana Soffer     Thu, Mar 11, 2010  Permanent link
Let me put an idea about humans and meaning in slightly esoteric words:
The material and the spiritual are so closely entwined in the human mind that making meaning for us almost seems like an involuntary act. It is near impossible to dissociate the two while making our reality comprehensible to us which is to give it meaning. 'Meaning' verily is elicited by the brain by putting the material and spiritual within a unified lens to conjure an image within our minds that makes sense.
Great post Fast T
Fast T     Fri, Mar 12, 2010  Permanent link
Interesting take Mariana, to which i would add off the tip of my tongue: for meaning erupts where lines of tension collide :)