Santa, the last of the wildmen

AW Amazon Store

If this site is helpful to you,
Please consider a voluntary subscription to defray ongoing expenses.


 

Welcome to the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler! Please read The Newbie Guide To Absolute Write

View Poll Results: How would increased intelligence change the behavior of other animals?

Voters
58. You may not vote on this poll
  • Higher intelligence will likely lead to selfishness and greed and destruction

    4 6.90%
  • Higher intelligence will not change the animals' behaviors significantly

    3 5.17%
  • Each species of animal would be affected differently by increased intelligence

    40 68.97%
  • They'll end up repeating what humans went though in our civilization's progression

    6 10.34%
  • Something else (please explain)

    5 8.62%
Page 5 of 5 FirstFirst 12345
Results 101 to 120 of 120

Thread: If animals were "uplifted" to high intelligence, would they behave like humans?

  1. #101
    Cultured vulture Albedo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    This place is not a place of honor.
    Posts
    5,408
    Quote Originally Posted by MaeZe View Post
    You might be interested in the research on the evolution of empathy. It didn't magically start with the evolutionary step of becoming human.
    It didn't, but we've definitely made leaps and bounds in the opposite.

    Certainly a lot of higher animals have empathy for their conspecifics, and some (crows, dogs) excel at understanding human thought as well. But I'm not convinced that the dolphin battering the porpoise apart really understands its suffering as much as, say, a terrorist lesiurely sawing off a person's head alive understands.
    Alex

  2. #102
    figuring it all out Ms.Pencila's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    In a galaxy far, far away, and very proximate: the Milky Way
    Posts
    92
    Interesting discussion!

    (I think my two cents doesn't quite jive with the discussion currently going, though. We're looking at this from different foundations: if humans are existentially different from animals because we have souls as well as bodies and minds, then--unless intelligence automatically comes with a soul-- the animals shouldn't be that different. They could act superficially like humans, but fundamentally they would be the same, as they aren't being offered the same thing as us: a choice to love our creator freely (or not). Just like we're not angels--or demons-- who chose instantly, rather than through lifetimes like ours where our souls are united to our bodies. Anyways. If anyone would like to discuss other possibilities, though, I'd be interested).
    "Here dies another day during which I have had eyes, ears, hands and the great world around me; and with tomorrow begins another. Why am I allowed two?" -G.K. Chesterton

  3. #103
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    13,873
    Quote Originally Posted by Albedo View Post
    It didn't, but we've definitely made leaps and bounds in the opposite.

    Certainly a lot of higher animals have empathy for their conspecifics, and some (crows, dogs) excel at understanding human thought as well. But I'm not convinced that the dolphin battering the porpoise apart really understands its suffering as much as, say, a terrorist lesiurely sawing off a person's head alive understands.
    Why do you believe a person leisurely sawing someone else apart understands their suffering?

  4. #104
    Cultured vulture Albedo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    This place is not a place of honor.
    Posts
    5,408
    Quote Originally Posted by cornflake View Post
    Why do you believe a person leisurely sawing someone else apart understands their suffering?
    I suppose we can't know for sure, can we? I find it hard to empathise with the person doing the sawing. But if they're doing it on Youtube ... that shows they recognise what it stands for, at least. They hope that enough people will be appalled by their actions that political changes will occur. They may not feel anything for the one they're butchering, but they know full well what they're supposed to be feeling.

    Besides, necks are tough. If your main goal wasn't the infliction of exquisite suffering surely you'd give up less than half way through.
    Alex

  5. #105
    Cultured vulture Albedo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    This place is not a place of honor.
    Posts
    5,408
    In summary: find me an animal that, with foreplanning, will sit there at considerable risk to its own survival slowly dismembering one of its own for political purposes and for kicks, and I'll concede that's an animal that's near human in dickitude. Some chimps will kill the children of their rivals and eat them, and I bet they enjoy it too. No surprises they're our closest cousins. Any other examples?
    Alex

  6. #106
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    13,873
    Quote Originally Posted by Albedo View Post
    In summary: find me an animal that, with foreplanning, will sit there at considerable risk to its own survival slowly dismembering one of its own for political purposes and for kicks, and I'll concede that's an animal that's near human in dickitude. Some chimps will kill the children of their rivals and eat them, and I bet they enjoy it too. No surprises they're our closest cousins. Any other examples?
    They have to do stuff slowly now? I mean... it was that we felt suffering, but I don't know how to suggest that's the case. Now it's not only that animals do bad shit, but that they prolong it to some particular?

    I'm on the 'we're worse than other animals' side. I know other animals do cruel shit, but I think humans are uniquely uncaring and uniquely unconnected to their own nature. I know plenty of humans who will argue they're not animals, they're *humans* and thus superiour, and that animals have no feelings, emotions, understanding, and are fine to use, kill, etc. That's a species with a fucking problem, if you ask me. Obviously it's not everyone, but I think far too many people have gotten too removed from understanding what they are to see not only that but what other animals are.

    Those are the people who can watch a video of N'kisi having the exchange on the previous page and insist he's mimicking language, and has no conscious comprehension, though he initiated and carried on a conversation sounds exactly like one people have with their six-year-olds on the regular.

  7. #107
    Friendly Neighborhood Mustelidae The Otter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    In the room next to the noisy ice machine, for all eternity.
    Posts
    1,192
    Quote Originally Posted by cornflake View Post
    Those are the people who can watch a video of N'kisi having the exchange on the previous page and insist he's mimicking language, and has no conscious comprehension, though he initiated and carried on a conversation sounds exactly like one people have with their six-year-olds on the regular.
    Yeah, some people will do mental backflips to rationalize away that stuff. (And that conversation is pretty remarkable). Imagine if people questioned the sentience of human toddlers in the same way. "When your son says he loves you, are you sure he isn't just mimicking your language or responding in a conditioned fashion because he's learned that expressions of love get him praise and food?"

    Though some people do talk that way about autistic or intellectually disabled human children (or adults for that matter). There's a tendency to apply reductive clinical labels to everything they say and do.
    Available in February 2018, my YA novel: WHEN MY HEART JOINS THE THOUSAND

  8. #108
    Things Will Change Victor Douglas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Detroit
    Posts
    157
    If you don't mind me saying so, I think this thread could benefit from some more precise definitions. For my purposes, I like to consider intelligence to consist of "Problem solving capacity within a given domain." This is pretty specific, and generalizable enough to allow comparisons across different types of entities: humans, animals and computers. As expert systems demonstrate, an entity can be highly intelligent within a narrowly defined domain (chess, flying an aircraft) without possessing sapience or conceptual self-awareness. The same, presumably, is true with animals. Many animals show a remarkable ability to solve certain types of problems, many are better than humans at what they do well. But I am of the impression that no other species (or computer program, for that matter) manifests the same high level of problem solving capacity across as many domains of problem types as we do.

    Sapience is something else altogether. I use the term to indicate the ability to consider oneself within a social context. That is to say, an entity is able to form a simplified mental model of themselves, model their relationships to others, and also create simplified models of those other people. Also included is the ability to track dynamic, even recursive, changes in this interconnected system of selves, such that the individual is aware that other people are updating their mental models, even while we are updating ours, most usually in response to each other. I believe that defining ones self-concept is meaningless except in relation to other selves, with whom we share certain similarities, and against whom we possess certain unique differences. That's sapience.

    Then there is the qualia of possessing a consciousness, of being "aware of one's awareness" in such a way that we experience a "self identity", which includes a sense of continuity over time, and the subjective experience of being "me". I find that I am unable to offer a precise and objective definition for it, perhaps someone else has an idea.

    Obviously, using my (admittedly somewhat ideosyncratic) set of definitions, it's possible to achieve very high intelligence without being sapient, and it may even be possible to achieve sapience without necessarily experiencing a subjective "me". My assertion is that these are different things, and what would happen if you "transcended" an animal depends on which of these qualities you are conferring on them: mere high intelligence isn't that different from the situation we are in with regard to computers, while giving them sapience or self-awareness is something else. I believe that dolphins already possess an extremely high level of sapience, possibly more than us, but I don't think they possess as much general intelligence as we do.

    As for the subjective sense of being a "conscious me", that's almost impossible to know, short of telepathy. I would think that if an animal did achieve consciousness, it would still be a very different subjective experience than we have. Until we can define what consciousness is in humans, we are going to have a very hard time identifying it in other species. The human mind may be unique in ways that the human mind itself cannot define.

    In my opinion, a transcended animal would be essentially an alien species, in respect to whom human concepts and definitions might have little meaning. They would probably develop an ethics of some kind, just to be able to regulate their social relationships effectively, but their standards of behavior might make little sense to us.

    One thing I think we would have in common is a sense of empathy. Pain and happiness are pain and happiness, which I think translates well across species. Anything beyond that, though, is going to be different in ways we cannot even imagine.
    Last edited by Victor Douglas; 10-01-2017 at 08:24 AM.

  9. #109
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    13,873
    Quote Originally Posted by Victor Douglas View Post
    If you don't mind me saying so, I think this thread could benefit from some more precise definitions. For my purposes, I like to consider intelligence to consist of "Problem solving capacity within a given domain." This is pretty specific, and generalizable enough to allow comparisons across different types of entities: humans, animals and computers. As expert systems demonstrate, an entity can be highly intelligent within a narrowly defined domain (chess, flying an aircraft) without possessing sapience or conceptual self-awareness. The same, presumably, is true with animals. Many animals show a remarkable ability to solve certain types of problems, many are better than humans at what they do well. But I am of the impression that no other species (or computer program, for that matter) manifests the same high level of problem solving capacity across as many domains of problem types as we do.

    Sapience is something else altogether. I use the term to indicate the ability to consider oneself within a social context. That is to say, an entity is able to form a simplified mental model of themselves, model their relationships to others, and also create simplified models of those other people. Also included is the ability to track dynamic, even recursive, changes in this interconnected system of selves, such that the individual is aware that other people are updating their mental models, even while we are updating ours, most usually in response to each other. I believe that defining ones self-concept is meaningless except in relation to other selves, with whom we share certain similarities, and against whom we possess certain unique differences. That's sapience.

    Then there is the qualia of possessing a consciousness, of being "aware of one's awareness" in such a way that we experience a "self identity", which includes a sense of continuity over time, and the subjective experience of being "me". I find that I am unable to offer a precise and objective definition for it, perhaps someone else has an idea.

    Obviously, using my (admittedly somewhat ideosyncratic) set of definitions, it's possible to achieve very high intelligence without being sapient, and it may even be possible to achieve sapience without necessarily experiencing a subjective "me". My assertion is that these are different things, and what would happen if you "transcended" an animal depends on which of these qualities you are conferring on them: mere high intelligence isn't that different from the situation we are in with regard to computers, while giving them sapience or self-awareness is something else. I believe that dolphins already possess an extremely high level of sapience, possibly more than us, but I don't think they possess as much general intelligence as we do.

    As for the subjective sense of being a "conscious me", that's almost impossible to know, short of telepathy. I would think that if an animal did achieve consciousness, it would still be a very different subjective experience than we have. Until we can define what consciousness is in humans, we are going to have a very hard time identifying it in other species. The human mind may be unique in ways that the human mind itself cannot define.

    In my opinion, a transcended animal would be essentially an alien species, in respect to whom human concepts and definitions might have little meaning. They would probably develop an ethics of some kind, just to be able to regulate their social relationships effectively, but their standards of behavior might make little sense to us.

    One thing I think we would have in common is a sense of empathy. Pain and happiness are pain and happiness, which I think translates well across species. Anything beyond that, though, is going to be different in ways we cannot even imagine.
    Putting aside for a moment the ... issues with using your own personal definitions of things like intelligence, I don't know how you're deciding stuff like dolphins don't solve problems across many domains, as we'd have different domain definitions, understandings, etc. How could we possibly quantify that for dolphins, or compare it to humans, when we live in entirely different environments and we don't understand so much of their basic lives.

    As for ethics, as we see them, though definitions vary, obviously, other animals have demonstrated that kind of behaviour over and over.

    Chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a chain that would also deliver an electric shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys will starve themselves for several days...

    Other primates also have a sense of reciprocity and fairness. They remember who did them favors and who did them wrong. Chimps are more likely to share food with those who have groomed them. Capuchin monkeys show their displeasure if given a smaller reward than a partner receives for performing the same task, like a piece of cucumber instead of a grape.

    These four kinds of behavior — empathy, the ability to learn and follow social rules, reciprocity and peacemaking — are the basis of sociality.
    Studies involving babies have previously shown that by the age of one, humans are already starting to judge people by how they interact. This has led to suggestions that children have a kind of innate morality that predates their being taught how to behave.

    Comparative psychologist James Anderson at Kyoto University and his colleagues wondered whether other species make social evaluations in a similar way.

    They began by testing whether capuchin monkeys would show a preference for people who help others. The capuchins watched an actor struggle to open a container with a toy inside.

    Then this actor presented the container to a second actor, who would either help or refuse to assist. Afterwards, both actors offered each capuchin food, and the monkey chose which offer to accept.

    When the companion was helpful, the monkey showed no preference between accepting the reward from the struggler or the helper. But when the companion refused to help, the monkey more often took food from the struggler...

    Finally, the researchers tested whether dogs preferred people who helped their owner. Each owner tried to open a container then presented it to one of two actors.

    This actor either helped or refused to do so, while the other actor was passive. Then the two actors offered the dog a reward and it chose between them.

    The dogs had no preference when the first actor had helped their owner, but were more likely to choose the passive actor if the first one had refused to help.
    Ravens refuse to associate with humans who cheat them, or other ravens who steal.

    Ravens, known more for their intelligence, but only slightly less for their love of cheese, were trained by researchers to trade a crust of bread for a morsel of cheese with human partners. When the birds then tried to broker a trade with “fair” and “unfair” partners—some completed the trade as expected, but others took the raven’s bread and kept (and ate) the cheese—the ravens avoided the tricksters in separate trials a month later.

  10. #110
    practical experience, FTW MaeZe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Posts
    4,184
    Quote Originally Posted by cornflake View Post
    ...
    Ravens refuse to associate with humans who cheat them, or other ravens who steal.
    That is fascinating, absolutely fascinating.

  11. #111
    practical experience, FTW neandermagnon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Dorset, UK
    Posts
    3,177
    Quote Originally Posted by MaeZe View Post
    So let's get back to where we should have been in the first place. Chimps have many aggressive behaviors more closely akin to human behavior and while bonobos may have a few human-shared behaviors like hunting and a little more aggression than previously thought, wouldn't it be nice if we were more like bonobos than chimpanzees?
    My comments about the media portrayal of bonobos v common chimps was more directed at the discussion in general rather than you personally or what you said specifically, so I apologise it if came across otherwise. My bad communication skills.

    My point is that we already are more like bonobos than common chimpanzees. Humans are the least aggressive of the three species. The circumstances that lead to warfare in humans have never existed in chimp or bonobo society, so saying "humans have wars and apes don't" doesn't mean humans are innately more aggressive. Humans live at much higher population densities and cope with being in close proximity to large numbers of humans they don't know on a daily basis without fighting with each other. Take London. You can't put 100 chimps or bonobos on a London Underground carriage together without them fighting, viciously. Yet humans endure it placidly, day after day, sat next to a strangers without attacking the strangers. There are many other ways humans have evolved to be more placid over the last few million years. Some researchers call it "domesticating ourselves". (Adam Van Arnsdale called it that. I think it was him. It was him or John Hawks. They both are palaeoanthropology professors and bloggers whose blogs I read.)

    I agree it would be nice if people didn't go to war n shit, but based on my experience of life (including having been friends with people from places like Gaza and Northern Ireland) I just do not and never will buy into the idea that humans are innately warlike and war happens because humans can't help but fight each other - war happens because people's basic safety and way if life is threatened in ways that other animals just don't ever experience. Not even all human societies experience those circumstances (and therefore don't do war).

    There's a saying (I forgot who said it) that all human society is about 3 meals away from anarchy. Of course when your basic survival is threatened to the extent that you think you're going to die you'll fight like an animal to survive. But people forget all the ways in which humans are highly co-operative and non-violent to be able to live in large numbers alongside strangers to begin with. When the shit utterly hits the fan we behave like animals. The rest of the time, we don't. No pun intended... there's a reason why "behave like animals" is used that way in human language.

    We judge ourselves and animals by very different criteria.
    Last edited by neandermagnon; 10-01-2017 at 10:27 AM.
    my blog - cave people and stuff - an imaginative look at palaeolithic life: http://cavepeopleandstuff.wordpress.com/

  12. #112
    practical experience, FTW neandermagnon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Dorset, UK
    Posts
    3,177
    Quote Originally Posted by Albedo View Post
    It didn't, but we've definitely made leaps and bounds in the opposite.

    Certainly a lot of higher animals have empathy for their conspecifics, and some (crows, dogs) excel at understanding human thought as well. But I'm not convinced that the dolphin battering the porpoise apart really understands its suffering as much as, say, a terrorist lesiurely sawing off a person's head alive understands.
    I think the issue here goes back to what Roxxsmom said - human empathy is limited to those humans we see as being "like us" and not those seen as "other". The terrorist doesn't see the person he or she is torturing as human at the time they're doing it. Amnesty International have some interesting (aka terrifying) reading material on how totalitarian dictators train people to become torturers. Torturers are made, not born. Systematic dehumanisation of the victims (like what Hitler did to the Jews and like what various other political leaders try to do to people they don't like) happens before human rights abuses start happening. The dehumanising is the thin end of the wedge.

    This difference between treatment of "us" and "them" can be seen in the fossil record. Neandertals ate their dead. Most cases of this, the deceased was eaten (stone tool marks consistent with removing flesh from the bones) then buried carefully in a grave, sometimes with flowers, sometimes with red ochre, sometimes with grave goods. The most similar thing in Homo sapiens society is the funerary rites of a remote tribe in Polynesia where eating the deceased is part of funerary rites and to do so is a sign of respect, and the traditional belief is that you imbibe the good qualities of the person that you eat. The evidence in most Neandertal burials is that something like this was going on, and not that they hunted each other for food.

    However, there's an archaeological site, I think in France (I forgot the exact location) where some Neandertals were eaten; their bones smashed to get all the marrow out, then the broken bone fragments tossed aside with the bones of the other prey animals. No careful burial. Very, very different, callous, treatment. There is various speculation a to what led to these particular people being treated exactly like prey animals - maybe a massive food shortage or maybe just one tribe failing to see the other tribe as being human, but it shows the same stark contrast you see in how modern humans treat other modern humans. When humans see others as being human, like them, then there's all the empathy and human niceness and co-operative nature and reciprocal altruism and the like. When humans see others as being other, not human, dehumanised, then all that's gone out of the window. I'm not even going to say that they're treated like an animal (because people have pets and stuff they treat humanely while they do horrific things to other humans) - they become in their mind like objects, and in political situations that lead to this, there's often a strong fear of what this "other" will do to "us" (like the way the modern far right makes people think all Muslims are dangerous terrorists that want to destroy the western way of life) along with the systematic dehumanisation.

    This aspect of human nature needs to be kept under constant vigilance (sorry to sound like Alastor Moody but he he put it the best way) because if we allow systematic dehumanisation and demonisation of groups of humans by other humans to go unchecked, it can and does lead to massive human rights abuses, up to and including genocide. I can't think of a single incident of genocide that didn't start that way.

    It's a flaw in human empathy. But the fact that we humans can be having this discussion typing peacefully about how horrific it is illustrates the fact that not hurting each other is the default for humans. It's so default we expect it all the time, and when we don't see it, were horrified.
    Last edited by neandermagnon; 10-01-2017 at 10:57 AM.
    my blog - cave people and stuff - an imaginative look at palaeolithic life: http://cavepeopleandstuff.wordpress.com/

  13. #113
    practical experience, FTW neandermagnon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Dorset, UK
    Posts
    3,177
    Quote Originally Posted by Victor Douglas View Post
    Then there is the qualia of possessing a consciousness, of being "aware of one's awareness" in such a way that we experience a "self identity", which includes a sense of continuity over time, and the subjective experience of being "me". I find that I am unable to offer a precise and objective definition for it, perhaps someone else has an idea.
    There was a recent New Scientist article on consciousness/awareness/sentience. According to the article it's evolved independently at least 3 times. In vertebrates, in octupus type things and in insects. The signs that an animal is sentient includes sleeping (only sentient things sleep), the amount of anaesthetic it takes to anaesthetise it (apparently it's ten times the amount relative to body mass if you're not sentient) and certain types of decision making that only make sense if the animal making the decision has a sense of its own existence and the impact the decision will have on its continued existence. I don't remember all the details off the top of my head. The most striking thing about it is that fruit flies are sentient.

    The sheer number of animals that are sentient is quite scary, seeing as humans have previously believed that only humans are sentient, while others have argued that higher mammals and some birds must be sentient, and this has been a point of debate. I think the article pretty much said all reptiles, birds and mammals are, and so are large numbers of insects, and the octupus and its relatives.

    ETA: I think amphibians too and I think it was something about moving onto lad that led to it evolving in our branch of the life family tree

    There are so many ways that humans massively underestimate the intelligence and sensitivity of animals. Even if they're not particularly intelligent it doesn't mean they're not sentient. If you have a concept of "don't do x because it will hurt" and "do y because it feels good" - that kind of mental processing requires sentience. In fact the article argued that sentience evolved because avoiding pain and seeking pleasure gives a massive evolutionary advantage over having a pre-programmed/hardwired reflex for every situation.

    It was published earlier this year and is probably on the New Scientist website, I think you can read a few articles for free before you have to pay (in case anyone's interested in reading it).
    Last edited by neandermagnon; 10-01-2017 at 11:22 AM.
    my blog - cave people and stuff - an imaginative look at palaeolithic life: http://cavepeopleandstuff.wordpress.com/

  14. #114
    Cultured vulture Albedo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    This place is not a place of honor.
    Posts
    5,408
    The 'scientific' denial that most of our fellow animals are just as sentient/feeling as we are was one of the absurdest errors of ethology in the 19th/20th century, IMO. Imagine if denial of germ theory lasted that long. That complex emotions are similar in mammals and birds suggests they extend back at least to our common ancestor*, and are far older than what Victor called 'general intelligence' but I'd just call advanced booksmarts, which seems to have evolved independently in several widely separated groups (primates, cetaceans, elephants, parrots, songbirds).


    *And also suggests that reptiles are probably more emotional than they're given credit for.
    Last edited by Albedo; 10-01-2017 at 07:48 PM.
    Alex

  15. #115
    practical experience, FTW neandermagnon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Dorset, UK
    Posts
    3,177
    Quote Originally Posted by Albedo View Post
    The 'scientific' denial that most of our fellow animals are just as sentient/feeling as we are was one of the absurdest errors of ethology in the 19th/20th century, IMO. Imagine if denial of germ theory lasted that long. That complex emotions are similar in mammals and birds suggests they extend back at least to our common ancestor, and are far older than what Victor called 'general intelligence' but I'd just call advanced booksmarts, which seems to have evolved independently in several widely separated groups (primates, cetaceans, elephants, parrots, songbirds).
    Yeah it's kind of like if physicists still believed that the sun revolves around the Earth. Flat out denial of the evidence that's plain for all to see because they'd rather believe that they're special and the centre of the universe.
    my blog - cave people and stuff - an imaginative look at palaeolithic life: http://cavepeopleandstuff.wordpress.com/

  16. #116
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    13,873
    The evidence of higher-level octopus intelligence is vast and somewhat terrifying btw, as is the plethora of anecdotal stories about octopus hijinks.

    There's a story about an octopus lived in a university lab, for a couple of years, whose researcher one day went in to the tank room, opened the latch, dropped in lunch, which consisted of some fresh shrimp, and went back to his desk in the other room. A bit later, wet shrimp hit him in the head. He turned to see the octopus headed back toward the tank, which was supposedly secured. The octopus was back in his tank by the time the researcher got in the room. The shrimp he'd thrown was spoiled. He'd never gotten out of the tank before, but apparently could, at will. Just had never had a reason to complain.

    The Mind of An Octopus.


    A common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) has about 500 million neurons in its body. That is a lot by almost any standard. Human beings have many more—something nearing 100 billion—but the octopus is in the same range as various mammals, close to the range of dogs, and cephalopods have much larger nervous systems than all other invertebrates...

    Vertebrate brains all have a common architecture. But when vertebrate brains are compared with octopus brains, all bets—or rather all mappings—are off. Octopuses have not even collected the majority of their neurons inside their brains; most of the neurons are in their arms.

    Given all this, the way to work out how smart octopuses are is to look at what they can do. Octopuses have done fairly well on tests of their intelligence in the laboratory, without showing themselves to be Einsteins. They can learn to navigate simple mazes. They can use visual cues to discriminate between two familiar environments and then take the best route toward some reward. They can learn to unscrew jars to obtain the food inside—even from the inside out. But octopuses are slow learners in all these contexts. Against this background of mixed experimental results, however, there are countless anecdotes suggesting that a lot more is going on.

    Neuroscientist Shelley Adamo of Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia also had one cuttlefish that reliably squirted streams of water at all new visitors to the lab but not at people who were often around. In 2010 the late biologist Roland C. Anderson and his colleagues at the Seattle Aquarium tested recognition in giant Pacific octopuses in an experiment that involved a “nice” keeper who regularly fed eight animals and a “mean” keeper who touched them with a bristly stick. After two weeks, all the octopuses behaved differently toward the two keepers, confirming that they can distinguish among individual people, even when they wear identical uniforms.

  17. #117
    Cultured vulture Albedo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    This place is not a place of honor.
    Posts
    5,408
    Quote Originally Posted by cornflake View Post
    The evidence of higher-level octopus intelligence is vast and somewhat terrifying btw, as is the plethora of anecdotal stories about octopus hijinks.

    There's a story about an octopus lived in a university lab, for a couple of years, whose researcher one day went in to the tank room, opened the latch, dropped in lunch, which consisted of some fresh shrimp, and went back to his desk in the other room. A bit later, wet shrimp hit him in the head. He turned to see the octopus headed back toward the tank, which was supposedly secured. The octopus was back in his tank by the time the researcher got in the room. The shrimp he'd thrown was spoiled. He'd never gotten out of the tank before, but apparently could, at will. Just had never had a reason to complain.

    The Mind of An Octopus.
    Someone here had the sig that was something like 'the joy of complaining is the thing that separates us from the animals.' Maybe we're not so different.
    Alex

  18. #118
    practical experience, FTW MaeZe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Posts
    4,184
    Quote Originally Posted by neandermagnon View Post
    ... My point is that we already are more like bonobos than common chimpanzees. Humans are the least aggressive of the three species. The circumstances that lead to warfare in humans have never existed in chimp or bonobo society, so saying "humans have wars and apes don't" doesn't mean humans are innately more aggressive. Humans live at much higher population densities and cope with being in close proximity to large numbers of humans they don't know on a daily basis without fighting with each other. Take London. You can't put 100 chimps or bonobos on a London Underground carriage together without them fighting, viciously. Yet humans endure it placidly, day after day, sat next to a strangers without attacking the strangers. There are many other ways humans have evolved to be more placid over the last few million years. Some researchers call it "domesticating ourselves". (Adam Van Arnsdale called it that. I think it was him. It was him or John Hawks. They both are palaeoanthropology professors and bloggers whose blogs I read.)
    I can't agree with this at all. But I don't see a lot of value in debating it further.

    Quote Originally Posted by neandermagnon View Post
    ...I agree it would be nice if people didn't go to war n shit, but based on my experience of life (including having been friends with people from places like Gaza and Northern Ireland) I just do not and never will buy into the idea that humans are innately warlike and war happens because humans can't help but fight each other - war happens because people's basic safety and way if life is threatened in ways that other animals just don't ever experience. Not even all human societies experience those circumstances (and therefore don't do war).
    We are very likely defining and applying 'innately warlike' in completely different ways. I certainly don't mean every human is aggressive and warlike. You have to determine if you are looking at the species in general or at the proportion of the species found at various locations on the continuum of behavior.

    But dismissing war and aggression as merely based on circumstance is a bit naive, in my opinion.

    Quote Originally Posted by neandermagnon View Post
    ...There's a saying (I forgot who said it) that all human society is about 3 meals away from anarchy. Of course when your basic survival is threatened to the extent that you think you're going to die you'll fight like an animal to survive. But people forget all the ways in which humans are highly co-operative and non-violent to be able to live in large numbers alongside strangers to begin with. When the shit utterly hits the fan we behave like animals. The rest of the time, we don't. No pun intended... there's a reason why "behave like animals" is used that way in human language.
    Did you happen to watch Ken Burns' and Lynn Novik's Vietnam series that just aired on PBS? The reason for that war had little to nothing to do with a shortage of resources.

    Quote Originally Posted by neandermagnon View Post
    ...We judge ourselves and animals by very different criteria.
    I think you are making more false assumptions about who believes what about animal vs human animal behavior. I'll discount myself from your "we" and not worry about it.
    Last edited by MaeZe; 10-01-2017 at 08:27 PM.

  19. #119
    Friendly Neighborhood Mustelidae The Otter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    In the room next to the noisy ice machine, for all eternity.
    Posts
    1,192
    Quote Originally Posted by cornflake View Post
    Ravens refuse to associate with humans who cheat them, or other ravens who steal.
    And Capuchin monkeys have a fairness ethic. They get angry about unequal rewards when they perform tasks in an experiment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meiU6TxysCg

    If you reward them both with a cucumber, they're fine with it. But if you give one a cucumber and one a grape...
    Available in February 2018, my YA novel: WHEN MY HEART JOINS THE THOUSAND

  20. #120
    practical experience, FTW Antipode91's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Posts
    212
    Well, the foundation of the question is faulty.

    It assumes there's two kinds of behaviors: one of animals, and one of humans. When in fact, the entire animal kingdom is filled with species that act different among itself.

    There's no reason why all of them would act like humans if their intelligence rose.

Page 5 of 5 FirstFirst 12345

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Custom Search