03-08-03, 08:47 PM
(mecha and organa) Are those the right terms?
I do not subscribe to the concept that organic intelligence has properties that make it real or alive, but mechanical does not. If I were to make the statement, “The method of operation is electrical, chemical, and mechanical.” one could not discern which I were describing.
My view is not uncommon among those who have gotten into the nuts and bolts of it. I have been met with resistance when introducing the concept. My thoughts are that many people have much invested in the dichotomy. I do realize that changing one’s assumptions is a process; myself included.
03-09-03, 10:34 AM
as all things do, this reminds me of a TNG episode.
Data(the android) is pretty much a reasonable facimile of a human, but he is mechanical. Is there anything about him that makes him any less of a life form than the biological humans? i would say no. there is resistance to calling something that is nonbiological life. because that is not what we are used to.
so the episode was about data being either considered a life form or property. an interesting debate because this could actually happen if we create AI that is sentient. I'm betting there will be some restance to dumping the idea that biological is special in a way that mechanical is not.
perhaps just because biology was the first way in which life came about, but i personally see no reason why there can't be mecha-life sometime in the future.
(oh, in case you didn't know it was ruled that Data was not property)
03-10-03, 08:29 AM
I think the problem some people have with this concept is metaphysical.
It comes down to a need for life to be something more than "just" chemicals and electricity in an interesting configuration.
Even for science oreinted people, there is a feeling that conciousness is something mysterious and special (which it is). We don't usually associate mechanical devices with this notion of mystery and awe.
This is mainly because our experience with mechanical devices comes from interacting with pitifully unsophisticated examples like dishwashers, VCRs and computers.
One way to overcome this shorsightedness is to start viewing biology from a technological viewpoint. It isn't that difficult to view inscects as some sort of super-advanced technology created by the evolutionary process (or other creationary forces of your choosing).
Doing this puts all our technology into a new perspective (and shows us how far we have to go).
Of course most people don't yet realize the potential of technology -- they haven't seen any really cool technology yet -- becase we haven't made it yet. Sure computers seem pretty cool now, but only because we don't know any better.
03-12-03, 12:55 AM
we are all machines. It is that humans evolved to be self aware to serve multiple survival purpuses. Something that is alive is defined as being self aware and capable of forming input on the situation that is not already preprogramed into it.
The lines between organa and mecha will blur as machines become more capable and able to interact with people. IE ask the operator what do you mean by a quick wash? Or how do those items relate to me doing your dishes? Machines like people as they take on more complex functions will be filled with mostly trivial information and form unique personalities if developed to the full degree.
03-12-03, 06:40 AM
Is it possible to define non-organic systems as alive?
When this question comes up, people start putting together definitions of "alive". We haven't had to nail down the definition very tightly until recently, when this question became reasonable.
Organicness was certainly part of the definition in the past, probably even an unspoken part of it.
But how important is organicness?
It's less important than self replication.
It's certainly less important than the ability to act in response to stimuli.
Another important aspect of (organic) life is growth -- This might be applicable to mecha.
Growth could be a valuable ability for mecha to have. For example, mecha exploring other planets could be launched in an immature form (compact and light), they could then search for the chemicals and materials necessary for growth into a mature and more able form.
-- I don't know how important this is for the definition of life, but just about all other life forms exhibit some kind of growth.
A very important piece of the definition (at least for me) is the ability to evolve. By this I don't just mean the ability to adapt, I mean actual evolution as in mutation and natural selection. (I wouldn't require this as part of a definition of sentience, but for "life" I think it's necessary). This last one is probably the trickiest in terms of creating artificial life forms. It can easily be achieved in virtual life forms, but for creating "real" things that we can touch, it's very difficult.
Of course there's probably an acceptable definition that only considers individual "life systems" and doesn't require being part of a species -- replication etc...
For distinguishing between sentience or uh.. non-sentience, Turing tests are good enough for me.
03-17-03, 03:21 PM
fun stuff. that and more and more organisms thought to be "alive" in the classical sence are "stunning" us by showing signs of communication and self-aware thought.
Don't have alink for it, but wired has a cool artical about bacterial communication. From persoal knowledge, if one elm tre gets Dutch Elm desease, all the trees in the vicinity respond by upping their defences.
I think alot of what we "know" about nature is pretty short sighted, and will change dramatically over the next 50 years. it may require we drop the notion of being God's favorite beings, here only to use and subdue the world. shucks. :D
03-26-03, 12:49 PM
There are 3 kinds of sentient beings that could be made in the future.
Cybernetic: Brain has both natural human neurons as well as artificial circuitry
AI: total artifact has no organic or biological parts
Biorobot: a biological organism created in a lab, synthetic genome so forth. If one was designed to mimic humans it would down to the cellular level... but it still might not be given human rights.