PDA

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



Lunatique
09-08-2014, 05:16 AM
One topic I've been discussing with friends and family is related to the other thread about existence of good and evil.

Imagine if other animals were "uplifted" by scientific breakthroughs and attain human-level intelligence. Do you think they would behave similar to humans and draw distinctions between good and evil? Would they more likely be selfish and greedy, or altruistic and peaceful? Would the civilization they build go through similar patterns as human civilizations? In what aspects would they likely divert from human tendencies? Would their current social behavior remain and they're simply smarter, or does higher intelligence naturally plant the seed for selfishness and greed, leading to war and destruction? Or perhaps it'll differ depending on the type of animal?

(Before anyone brings up David Brin's Uplift serious, let me just say that I've tried reading a couple of the books in that series, and he really doesn't get into the philosophical aspect--they're more like action/adventure/mystery books)

veinglory
09-08-2014, 05:19 AM
I suspect it would help us distinguish the difference between "like humans" and "like any breakthrough sentient species". Something we are not currently really able to do.

Cathy C
09-08-2014, 05:24 AM
What about Animal Farm? It wouldn't surprise me if it's exactly what happened if all animals simultaneously gained intelligence. That would be the trick, though: it would all have to happen at once. If it was done a few species at a time, it would never get beyond the first few species before people would see the reasons why it was a bad idea.

Lunatique
09-08-2014, 05:29 AM
I suspect it would help us distinguish the difference between "like humans" and "like any breakthrough sentient species". Something we are not currently really able to do.

I suppose the ability to form the foundations of civilizations would be the criteria. But is it possible that high intelligence won't naturally lead to formation of a sophisticated civilization? What if really intelligent lions choose to live in exactly the same way it always had, just more efficiently? They'd just hunt and breed and play as usual, with no motivation to create an economy, more complex methods of communication, art, political system, religion, etc.

Lunatique
09-08-2014, 05:32 AM
What about Animal Farm? It wouldn't surprise me if it's exactly what happened if all animals simultaneously gained intelligence. That would be the trick, though: it would all have to happen at once. If it was done a few species at a time, it would never get beyond the first few species before people would see the reasons why it was a bad idea.

The thing with Animal Farm, is that it's meant as a satire of communism and human nature, and doesn't really try to be realistic in any kind of speculative manner based on science.

As for whether they're all uplifted at once, or one species at a time, I guess we can speculate about both possibilities.

cornflake
09-08-2014, 08:40 AM
One topic I've been discussing with friends and family is related to the other thread about existence of good and evil.

Imagine if other animals were "uplifted" by scientific breakthroughs and attain human-level intelligence. Do you think they would behave similar to humans and draw distinctions between good and evil? Would they more likely be selfish and greedy, or altruistic and peaceful? Would the civilization they build go through similar patterns as human civilizations? In what aspects would they likely divert from human tendencies? Would their current social behavior remain and they're simply smarter, or does higher intelligence naturally plant the seed for selfishness and greed, leading to war and destruction? Or perhaps it'll differ depending on the type of animal?

(Before anyone brings up David Brin's Uplift serious, let me just say that I've tried reading a couple of the books in that series, and he really doesn't get into the philosophical aspect--they're more like action/adventure/mystery books)

I'm sort of confused as to how you're distinguishing human intelligence from that of other animals currently.

Lunatique
09-08-2014, 09:08 AM
I'm sort of confused as to how you're distinguishing human intelligence from that of other animals currently.

I would say the foundations of a sophisticated civilization would be the criteria for advanced intelligence. Complex method of communication and use of advanced tools/technology would be the most basic aspects. Then beyond those, it wouldn't be as relevant, but might still be used as a gauge--for example, economy, political system, art, entertainment, architecture, etc. Some animals might not need those, but I think advanced communication to convey abstract reasoning and use of tools to make life more efficient would be the basis.

AHunter3
09-08-2014, 09:24 AM
Human beings have an unusual nature: we are individually intelligent and, at the same time, we are social in a sense that only insects approximate.

"Uplifting" some other species to our (individual) high level of intelligence would not (necessarily) change them into a social species in the same sense.

Dolphins and gorillas and pigs are pretty smart, individually, but they don't spend their lives with their minds interwoven into the "hive mind" the way we do; although they certainly have some social behavior, you can understand a lot about those species by studying one individual by itself in a natural habitat. Not true of us at all. What we think of as human nature is 99% human social nature. For that matter, the majority of our thoughs opinions beliefs and the rest of what we think of first when we think of ourselves as intelligent comprises input from not merely other people in addition to us but generations upon generations of humans that lived before us, to which our own individual contributions are minor little edits and clarifications.

cornflake
09-08-2014, 09:27 AM
I would say the foundations of a sophisticated civilization would be the criteria for advanced intelligence. Complex method of communication and use of advanced tools/technology would be the most basic aspects. Then beyond those, it wouldn't be as relevant, but might still be used as a gauge--for example, economy, political system, art, entertainment, architecture, etc. Some animals might not need those, but I think advanced communication to convey abstract reasoning and use of tools to make life more efficient would be the basis.

We have a hard time understanding other animals' communication, beyond the animals that have learned to communicate in a language we understand. I don't know how the communication of ones that don't do that could be quantified.

Lots of animals use tools to make life more efficient.

Are you defining sophisticated civilization as human civilization? I mean no, parrots haven't built buildings. I don't know they'd want to even if they had thumbs, if you see what I'm saying.

Lunatique
09-08-2014, 10:28 AM
We have a hard time understanding other animals' communication, beyond the animals that have learned to communicate in a language we understand. I don't know how the communication of ones that don't do that could be quantified.

Lots of animals use tools to make life more efficient.

Are you defining sophisticated civilization as human civilization? I mean no, parrots haven't built buildings. I don't know they'd want to even if they had thumbs, if you see what I'm saying.

Exactly. Each species might have different needs that higher intelligence would be able to satisfy, or maybe being more intelligent wouldn't change a thing for some species (thus the example I used of lions not changing their behavior despite increased intelligence).

I wouldn't say there are any animals who an use tools to the level that humans can, regardless if they have thumb. It's the complexity of reasoning/logic that divides how we use tools and the primitive way that other animals use tools. But if other animals reach the same intelligence as humans, that would likely change.

it's entirely possible that an "uplifted" species would not form any kind of what we'd consider "civilization," and other than more efficient hunting and maybe usage of tools, we won't see significant changes.

But what about species that could potentially develop civilizations? How would they differ from human civilizations? Would they draw distinction between good and evil like we do? Would they develop religions? Would they have full-scale wars? Would they develop art and entertainment? Traditions? Economic systems?

Friendly Frog
09-08-2014, 04:08 PM
Animals already behave like humans in many ways, and visa versa. I don't think higher intelligence will change that much, it will probably just provide more ways and methods to engage in the same desired behaviour.

'Higher' intelligence doesn't automatically leads to more moral behaviour, humans are an excellent example. Also, think of dolphins whom humans always love to compare to us. They're smart, playful, communicative, social and utter jerks all at the same time.

But all the same, I think it's misleading to think humans have higher intelligence than animals, or to consider us as the benchmark. Some animals already have cultures or structures already more advanced than ours, depending on how you look at it.

robjvargas
09-08-2014, 04:21 PM
A dog doesn't see the world the way we do. A dolphin doesn't even experience the same world we experience. Why would a tiger develop weapons when it's very biology *is* a weapon?

Larry Niven's kzinti make for interesting characters. I imagine intelligent tigers being pacifists when it comes to war. Violence is for feeding. Not all these petty squabbles a weak creature like human invents for it.

The only way for a species to develop like a human is for the species to *be* human.

veinglory
09-08-2014, 06:19 PM
I suppose the ability to form the foundations of civilizations would be the criteria. But is it possible that high intelligence won't naturally lead to formation of a sophisticated civilization? What if really intelligent lions choose to live in exactly the same way it always had, just more efficiently? They'd just hunt and breed and play as usual, with no motivation to create an economy, more complex methods of communication, art, political system, religion, etc.

Again, that just shows that we have no idea what traits humans have that are not generic to all breakthrough sentient beings. Until we meet or make another such race.... we won't know which of our traits are "human" and which are just "very smart species that likes to make things".

cornflake
09-08-2014, 08:39 PM
Exactly. Each species might have different needs that higher intelligence would be able to satisfy, or maybe being more intelligent wouldn't change a thing for some species (thus the example I used of lions not changing their behavior despite increased intelligence).

I wouldn't say there are any animals who an use tools to the level that humans can, regardless if they have thumb. It's the complexity of reasoning/logic that divides how we use tools and the primitive way that other animals use tools. But if other animals reach the same intelligence as humans, that would likely change.

it's entirely possible that an "uplifted" species would not form any kind of what we'd consider "civilization," and other than more efficient hunting and maybe usage of tools, we won't see significant changes.

But what about species that could potentially develop civilizations? How would they differ from human civilizations? Would they draw distinction between good and evil like we do? Would they develop religions? Would they have full-scale wars? Would they develop art and entertainment? Traditions? Economic systems?

I think you're missing my point kind of - I'm questioning the idea that other animals would or could be 'uplifted' to a 'higher intelligence' in the first place. Not that they can't be 'more intelligent,' but that we're necessarily more intelligent than every other animal, when we're not able to measure that for most and would be using a strictly human-based measure (that people criticize as culturally-biased among humans even) to begin with.

Also that having greater intellect, if that were the case, would somehow result in human-like things.

How do you know other animals don't draw those distinctions? What do you mean by art and entertainment? They certainly entertain themselves, play, tease, etc. When given human art tools, many animals create human-like art.

I'm not sure how you're dividing primitive tool use from non either. I mean I can't get out of a locked thing the way I've seen an octopus do. If I only had access to twigs or a kitchen (hi, bowerbird), I don't think I could build a sturdy nest in a tree; nor do I think I could do lots of what other animals do with natural tools. Who's primitive?

mirandashell
09-08-2014, 08:57 PM
And how about the average dog's ability to read human body language and the average human's inability to read a dog's? They know a lot more about it than us.

And to say that human civilisation is the measure of intelligence and worth is a very human way of looking at it.

NinjaFingers
09-08-2014, 09:02 PM
Every species would be different.

Dogs would be the closest to humans - their social structure is already very close to ours.

But let's take horses. Horses are harem breeders who otherwise live in sex segregated groups (and I have personally observed an increase in "herd" injuries, i.e. fights, when you mix the sexes) and who do not have relatives. Young horses of both sexes are thrown out of the breeding herd when their next sibling is born, at about a year old. Colts join bachelor herds and fillies join different breeding herds. A horse's strongest bond is not with a blood relative but with the individual they've chosen to form such a bond with. I.e., their friends. Can you imagine a society in which the family bonds are very weak, and perhaps only tracked for genetic and medical reason, in which people live with their friends and have sex for breeding purposes with carefully chosen strangers? That's the kind of society you would be looking at. (I've honestly considered taking that one step further to design an alien off of).

cornflake
09-08-2014, 09:08 PM
Every species would be different.

Dogs would be the closest to humans - their social structure is already very close to ours.

But let's take horses. Horses are harem breeders who otherwise live in sex segregated groups (and I have personally observed an increase in "herd" injuries, i.e. fights, when you mix the sexes) and who do not have relatives. Young horses of both sexes are thrown out of the breeding herd when their next sibling is born, at about a year old. Colts join bachelor herds and fillies join different breeding herds. A horse's strongest bond is not with a blood relative but with the individual they've chosen to form such a bond with. I.e., their friends. Can you imagine a society in which the family bonds are very weak, and perhaps only tracked for genetic and medical reason, in which people live with their friends and have sex for breeding purposes with carefully chosen strangers? That's the kind of society you would be looking at. (I've honestly considered taking that one step further to design an alien off of).

Dogs are pack animals with alpha males running the pack... I don't think they're particularly human-like, societally.

I think there are plenty closer, or 'more advanced' than us, like, say, elephants.

mirandashell
09-08-2014, 09:19 PM
But aren't elephant groups also sexually segregated? The females stick together to raise the young ones and only really have contact with the males at breeding time. Like horses.

Dog packs are sexually mixed, like us.

benbradley
09-08-2014, 09:34 PM
I suppose the ability to form the foundations of civilizations would be the criteria. But is it possible that high intelligence won't naturally lead to formation of a sophisticated civilization?
Higher intelligence may be necessary, but not sufficient, for a "sophisticated civilization" (these terms are really need some hard definitions, but I'm trying not to get into that in this post). Language is also needed, and humans are uniquely able to create a wide range of vocalizations that are easily recognized by other humans, and so spoken language developed. Other animals may communicate, but only with a VERY limited language, if you can call it that. More intelligent animals may well maximize their vocalizations and create a language, but as they can't create as many distinct sound symbols as humans, they won't be able to communicate as fast.

And then there's other features that most other animals don't have - the opposable thumb comes to mind.

What if really intelligent lions choose to live in exactly the same way it always had, just more efficiently? They'd just hunt and breed and play as usual, with no motivation to create an economy, more complex methods of communication, art, political system, religion, etc.
I suppose that's part of the point of the question - we don't KNOW that they won't do these things.

Dogs are pack animals with alpha males running the pack...
True, but it seems to me that's a trait that came from wolves, and as dogs are basically wolves from thousands of years ago that were domesticated (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestication_of_the_dog), it might have been bred out of dogs if it were easy to do so.

I don't think they're particularly human-like, societally.
Hmm. I'm not so sure I agree.

Perhaps as a species becomes more socially intelligent, a pack becomes a neighborhood, then a city, then a nation.

mirandashell
09-08-2014, 09:42 PM
Other animals may communicate, but only with a VERY limited language, if you can call it that. More intelligent animals may well maximize their vocalizations and create a language, but as they can't create as many distinct sound symbols as humans, they won't be able to communicate as fast.

But that is on the assumption that vocalization is the only way language develops. For all we know, it's not. We just use it as the standard because it's the way we do it.

Lunatique
09-08-2014, 11:19 PM
Okay, let's take a different approach. One of the more recent and modern methods of determining intelligence is synaptic density, and human being have highest density. It's now known that the reason human beings are the most intelligent (you don't have to agree) is not because of the size of the brain, but the density of the synapses.

Now, let's say the "uplift" process simply means the synaptic density in the animals would be increased to at least human levels. And then we just wait and see how the change will cause the animals to behave differently.

But there could be two different approaches after the increase in synaptic density. First approach is that we don't interfere with the subsequent development after the increase, and let the animals do as they would naturally.

The second approach, is we try and teach them the things we think are important to the advancement of a species (complex language, abstract reasoning, science/technology, political system, art, etc). Animals without the ability to vocalize a wide range of sounds can be taught sign-language (adapted for their physiology, such as including use of tails, ears, wings, eye-blinks, etc).

I would assume the two different approaches will end up with drastically different results. The second approach will likely make the animals much more human-like because we've introduced and taught our system of civilization to them. Some might not take to our system and completely reject our influences and then develop their own based on their own inherent behavior and social structure, while some will take to it and adopt our system (to what degree depends on the animal). Some might even adopt human's concept of good and evil, and possibly religious beliefs too.

With the first approach, it feels like a much more unknown possibility, because it's very hard to predict how much the animals' behaviors will change with increased synaptic density, while left alone without human influences. But at the same time, it's possible the animals that currently do survive in human environemtns will adapt in more complex ways than before, since they'd start to understand more of what happens in our technological environment. Birds might learn to use found coins and operate vending machines to get the exact brand of chips they like, or simply enter supermarkets and feast away. They'd be able to decipher our language eventually and listen in on our conversations, and then use what they hear to their advantage. Maybe take your car keys ransom in exchange for food? :D Animals that don't need to survive in human environments will likely not change as much in their behavior.

I think regardless of which approach, it's just a really interesting thought experiment (to me, at least), to think about something like this (guess that's why I write speculative fiction). The exploration of this idea can be an entire series of books, and how each writer would approach the subject will differ dramatically. Writers have explored this subject in the past, although not quite in the context I've presented here (as far as I know). The most well-known example is probably Planet of the Apes (with the recent two movies being much more realistic compared to the original pulp roots).

mirandashell
09-08-2014, 11:29 PM
Can I ask why you assume we would still be Alpha species? Most animals can do physical things much better than we can so why wouldn't they just kill us as soon as they recognised what a horrible species we actually are?

Lunatique
09-08-2014, 11:56 PM
Can I ask why you assume we would still be Alpha species? Most animals can do physical things much better than we can so why wouldn't they just kill us as soon as they recognised what a horrible species we actually are?

That's a possible outcome, but I think the chances of them succeeding would be slim, considering the head-start humans have (ability to operate extremely powerful weapons, computer networks, satellite, GPS, radio communication, thousands of years of accumulated war strategies on massive scale as well as guerrilla warfare, knowledge of science--including animal biology and social behavior, etc).

Also, unless many animal species cooperate against humans, any single species or even a few allied species wouldn't stand a chance.

But assuming they do cooperate, and they secretly study all the knowledge humans have accumulated for many years, and then suddenly strike, it would definitely be possible if they cripple our most important resources.

That's a great premise for a book right there. Will require expertise in zoology and other related areas though (this type of story to me, screams hard science-fiction).

AVS
09-09-2014, 12:10 AM
It has been done already to an extent; Planet of the Apes and its sequels, assumes an uplifted society. I'm not sure I buy it.

Thinking about how another sentient non-human might think, is a little like trying to imagine colours outside our visual spectrum. We know they exist but no matter how hard we try we can never actually visualize them.

We can extrapolate of course, animals need mates, food, territory, tribe/herd much the same as we do. There are similarities in Earth based animal behaviours, especially mammals, so perhaps we could behaviourally expect certain things.

Interesting question which I'm not really answering to my own satisfaction.

mirandashell
09-09-2014, 12:36 AM
That's a possible outcome, but I think the chances of them succeeding would be slim, considering the head-start humans have (ability to operate extremely powerful weapons, computer networks, satellite, GPS, radio communication, thousands of years of accumulated war strategies on massive scale as well as guerrilla warfare, knowledge of science--including animal biology and social behavior, etc).


I don't agree. How many insects are there on the planet that can kill us? How many of us own dogs big enough to kill us? Horses can kill us. Cows can kill us. Most predators can kill us. And we know that if we wipe out all the animals we will die anyway cos the ecosystem will collapse. We're already facing loss of pollinators. Imagine if all insects were as smart as us. We'd be fucked in five minutes.

Lunatique
09-09-2014, 01:01 AM
I don't agree. How many insects are there on the planet that can kill us? How many of us own dogs big enough to kill us? Horses can kill us. Cows can kill us. Most predators can kill us. And we know that if we wipe out all the animals we will die anyway cos the ecosystem will collapse. We're already facing loss of pollinators. Imagine if all insects were as smart as us. We'd be fucked in five minutes.

Insects weren't part of the discussions though. But if we count insects, they would certainly be hard to defend against (if they were intent on killing us). But at the same time, we have facilities that are protected from all outside air pollution and insects (lab-like environments and military bunkers). We also have insect killing chemicals. But that's a mutually assured destruction, as you pointed out, so I don't think it's a good idea for either side, and if the insects are indeed that smart, they'd know it too.

As for other mammals capable of killing us, you're thinking about individual cases and not full-scale war, and you're also not considering the entire range of human arsenal--from blades, power tools, firearms, grenades, gases, missiles, nuclear bomb, jet fighters, tanks, etc. Also, we have extensive experience in war/combat strategies, whereas other animals only have experience in small-scale hunts. There's no way other animals can win if we actually turn our deadly weapons on them. But again, we'd screw up the entire ecosystem, so it's a lose-lose situation if they choose to attack us. If they are that smart, they must realize if they wage full-scale war on humans, they'd likely destroy the planet too. Untended or damaged nuclear and oil facilities, use of weapons of mass destruction, uncontrolled forest fires, etc. It'd be destruction for them too.

mirandashell
09-09-2014, 01:10 AM
So picking us off a few at a time wouldn't work? And as for mutual destruction, human civilisation has been around for the blink of a eye in terms of the life of the planet and animals survived then. They survived the extinction of the dinosaurs, they will survive the extinction of us.

And forest fires happened in prehistory as well.

Lunatique
09-09-2014, 01:29 AM
So picking us off a few at a time wouldn't work? And as for mutual destruction, human civilisation has been around for the blink of a eye in terms of the life of the planet and animals survived then. They survived the extinction of the dinosaurs, they will survive the extinction of us.

And forest fires happened in prehistory as well.

Picking us off a few at a time--that cannot go on for long enough to do significant damage to our population, because as soon as the first wave of cases are reported, humans will be on guard and we'll turn our weapons against the animals.

Earth's history has never seen the likes of our current advanced technology and weapons of mass destruction. Whatever happened in the past is not a good indicator of what will happen next because modern human civilization is whole new ball of wax. We are altering the planet in ways that's beyond the natural progression of nature.

As for the animals surviving all the nuclear disasters (and whatever other disasters) from an all-out war with humans, why would animals even want to go to that length and risk their own survival, if they are intelligent enough to weigh the consequences? Wouldn't it be much better to simply work with the humans to make the planet a better place?

robjvargas
09-09-2014, 01:33 AM
4.4 trillion cockroaches won't care that we killed a billion of them. Or ten billion.

Lunatique
09-09-2014, 01:51 AM
So is that what you guys think--that if other animals were uplifted to be more intelligent, the only outcome is full-scale war where they try to eliminate human beings?

Friendly Frog
09-09-2014, 04:51 AM
But aren't elephant groups also sexually segregated? The females stick together to raise the young ones and only really have contact with the males at breeding time. Like horses.
It's a bit more varied. While most females stay together with friends or relatives to rear their young, they may meet males in an out of breeding season. The matriarch often regulates contact. The males are not always strictly solitary and can form bands too although this is more common for younger males. That said, with the vast distances elephants can communicate being physically together is only one aspect of the contact they have.


Other animals may communicate, but only with a VERY limited language, if you can call it that. More intelligent animals may well maximize their vocalizations and create a language, but as they can't create as many distinct sound symbols as humans, they won't be able to communicate as fast.
As far as we've been able to tell while studying animal languages. Some have proven surprisingly complex. It's not distinct sounds that is the defining factor, IMO, but whether their language is able to express abstract ideas like ours. If so, learning and the spread of ideas and culture can progress faster in a population.


So is that what you guys think--that if other animals were uplifted to be more intelligent, the only outcome is full-scale war where they try to eliminate human beings?
I don't think they'd particularly like us, considering our track record. Whether it'll be a full-scale war is something entirely different. Higher intelligence doesn't mean higher agression. I don't see our military technology necessarily making much of a dent, depending on which species we're talking. But our sheer numbers and the way we've adapted the world to suit our own needs on a massive scale would probably give any intelligence pause to consider whether a war is the way forward.

Frankly, it might be more interesting to see how humanity would cope with another sapient species on the planet. Will we be willing to share?

Lunatique
09-09-2014, 05:00 AM
Frankly, it might be more interesting to see how humanity would cope with another sapient species on the planet. Will we be willing to share?

Sadly, I think it's more likely that if we have the ability to uplift other species, we'd only make them smart enough to be more useful for our own gains, but subjugating them to a life of servitude. I see no incentive for the powers-that-be to want to share equal footing with other species. As it is right now, we're already robbing other species of their resources for our own gain, and making them more intelligent will only make it harder to continue doing the same. Also, supporters of animal rights will have a field day if other species were to be uplifted but only for the purpose of serving humans.

The one plausible scenario I can think of, is if the ecosystem is so screwed that we would uplift the other species in order to give them a better chance at survival, just to save our own ass.

Friendly Frog
09-09-2014, 05:14 AM
But that's only assuming humans will be the uplifting factor. That not only narrows the field of speculation, but also automatically imposes certain limits on the uplifting itself. We'd be talking individuals, not whole species. No lab would be capable/allowed to uplift an entire species to a level comparable to humans without a vast change in our own society. And the time scale would be long as well if breeding needs to be taken into account. The uplifted species would be so inmersed in humanity that there would be little space to develop any civilisation on their own. Any new learned behaviour would have an origin in humanity.

Lunatique
09-09-2014, 05:28 AM
But that's only assuming humans will be the uplifting factor. That not only narrows the field of speculation, but also automatically imposes certain limits on the uplifting itself. We'd be talking individuals, not whole species. No lab would be capable/allowed to uplift an entire species to a level comparable to humans without a vast change in our own society. And the time scale would be long as well if breeding needs to be taken into account. The uplifted species would be so inmersed in humanity that there would be little space to develop any civilisation on their own. Any new learned behaviour would have an origin in humanity.

You're right. I was only considering the uplift as human-induced. If let's say, an alien race came and uplifted various animal species (or maybe the source is supernatural, or caused by a meteor), that would be a very different scenario. In that context, I think human beings will get really defensive very quickly, because we know how much we've subjugated other species in the thousands of years of recorded history alone. All governments would worry about retribution or reclamation of resources by the uplifted species. It's likely it'll be the humans that start a war. (Man, I'm such a misanthrope.)

C.bronco
09-09-2014, 05:43 AM
Interesting question and interesting poll result so far: I do belive that animals, like people, are wired differently. What would a smart hamster do vs. what would a smart hyena do?I hope the hamsters would be smarter.

robjvargas
09-09-2014, 07:03 AM
So is that what you guys think--that if other animals were uplifted to be more intelligent, the only outcome is full-scale war where they try to eliminate human beings?

We humans have gone to war over whether our women should be completely covered, or allow their eyes to be visible.

Do you *really* believe that we won't see that intelligent animals won't give the least damn about our religion, and we *won't* go to war to convert them?

Lunatique
09-09-2014, 07:28 AM
We humans have gone to war over whether our women should be completely covered, or allow their eyes to be visible.

Do you *really* believe that we won't see that intelligent animals won't give the least damn about our religion, and we *won't* go to war to convert them?

Well, that's only some cultures, and the current state of world power struggles isn't about religion but about controlling resources. In most of the top powers around the world, religion is no longer a driving factor. It is far more likely that if wars are fought between other species and humans, it's going to be about controlling resources and basic rights.

robjvargas
09-09-2014, 04:53 PM
Well, that's only some cultures, and the current state of world power struggles isn't about religion but about controlling resources. In most of the top powers around the world, religion is no longer a driving factor. It is far more likely that if wars are fought between other species and humans, it's going to be about controlling resources and basic rights.

Islamic State. Caliphate.

We could argue back and forth about which is more, but religious intolerance *is* driving violence.

SampleGuy
09-09-2014, 08:28 PM
The animals might probably evolve the same way we did with higher learning abilities. But they would behave more alien to humans because of their different traits and communications. Social animals would build their own civilizations while the antisocial ones will remain in the wild on their own. If they live among humans, they might learn from us and try to share our knowledge to become like us.

Lunatique
09-09-2014, 10:10 PM
Islamic State. Caliphate.

We could argue back and forth about which is more, but religious intolerance *is* driving violence.

But that's not the entire planet. Those conflicts are not coming from the biggest world powers. Look at the list of the most powerful countries in the world--they're not the ones waging religious wars.

mirandashell
09-09-2014, 10:15 PM
If they live among humans, they might learn from us and try to share our knowledge to become like us.

Why would they want to become like us?

Tazlima
09-09-2014, 10:31 PM
I don't believe increased intelligence would create any inherent change in animal behavior. Social animals would remain social; solitary animals would remain solitary. Enhanced intelligence wouldn't change their goals, it would simply improve their ability to obtain those goals.

If you look at human history, the technology around us has changed drastically, but the end goals of that technology haven't changed in any meaningful manner. We seek good food, safe shelter, protection from predators, control of resources, mental stimulation, etc. A modern 5-star hotel may provide fancier amenities than an inn in the 1600's, but they're both designed to provide a comfortable place to rest, eat, and screw.

Whether and how much humans would interact with another species which suddenly increased in intelligence would depend on the species. As a general rule, species don't enforce their own social restrictions on other species. A fox may protect its turf from other foxes, but will have little interest in the activity of deer on that land, just as I barely notice the lizards that live in my yard.

Significant species interaction typically occurs when there's a conflict of interest. The lizards don't bother me (in fact, I welcome their mosquito and fly-eating presence), but if a raccoon tried to set up residence in my attic, there'd be a problem. If a deer ate my crops so that I risked starvation, there'd be a bigger problem. If a lion ate my kid, there'd be a HUGE problem.

Alternately, there could be a symbiotic relationship between the species. If my dogs were suddenly gifted with crazy levels of intelligence, that'd be neat!

Roxxsmom
09-21-2014, 05:33 AM
Dogs are pack animals with alpha males running the pack... I don't think they're particularly human-like, societally.

I think there are plenty closer, or 'more advanced' than us, like, say, elephants.

Actually, there's a lot of debate over whether domestic dogs are really pack animals. This may be because feral and pariah dogs (the state domestic dogs revert to when not maintained directly by humans) get most of their food from scavenging (a more individual activity), not hunting (which is a cooperative activity). There is evidence that suggests that when they are feral, they tend to form loose, temporary packs, but they have fairly fluid and situational social hierarchies.

http://www.nonlineardogs.com/socialorganisation.html

http://www.caninemind.co.uk/pack.html

http://www.streetdogrescue.com/aboutus/Pack_theory.pdf

http://www.tarynblyth.co.za/articles/pack-theory-fact-or-fiction/

http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1004&context=press_ebooks (http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1004&context=press_ebooks)

This makes sense, actually, or they'd be darned hard for us to manage.

But there have also been some researchers who have found evidence for stability in feral dog social structures in at least some situations

http://www.appliedanimalbehaviour.com/article/0168-1591%2887%2990155-9/abstract

So it's very possible that domestic dogs are very plastic indeed in terms of social behavior (not unlike us).

Gray wolves are more complex than they're often portrayed as being also. A typical wolf pack has a breeding pair of adults (what once was referred to as the alpha pair, but wolf biologists are shifting to calling them the breeding pair), along with their cubs and subadult offspring from earlier litters. The adults are leaders in the sense that parents are the leaders in their families. When there is room to disperse, young wolves leave their natal packs and become the parents of a new pack sometime between the age of 2-3. In captivity, wolves tend to form gender-specific dominance hierarchies, but the situation where a bunch of unrelated wolves are thrust together is pretty rare in natural situations. But even in captive, or cobbled together packs, or packs in very "full" habitats where subadults can't disperse, individuals that use aggression and violence to climb in the ranks do not tend to hold their position for very long.

https://www.4pawsu.com/alphawolf.pdf

Unlike domestic dogs, wolves are extremely aggressive to members of other family units that intrude into their territory, which makes sense when you realize it's a hunting territory with limited game. There is even some speculation that wolves show a primitive form of warlike behavior. Domestic dogs are far less aggressive to unrelated individuals as a rule (though early socialization plays a role here), and you can see why decreased aggression towards unrelated conspecifics would be an essential trait in a species that was being domesticated.

http://socialevolutionforum.com/2014/08/18/the-war-over-war-part-ii/

But our evolving understanding of dogs and wolves, two relatively well studied species, illustrates the difficulties that would stem from trying to project what might happen to another species whose brain was enhanced to allow greater cognition.

One thing to think of in terms of canines (and many other mammals) would be that the areas that allow a human level of cognition would have to be co-opted from somewhere in the existing brain. With primates, there was a loss in olfactory areas. It's not entirely clear which came first, the lost of olfaction or the development of greater problem solving abilities and social intelligence.

So what would the development of higher canine intelligence require them to reassign some of their sense of smell?

ColoradoGuy
09-21-2014, 07:09 AM
Very interesting -- thanks so much.

KarmaPolice
09-21-2014, 11:23 AM
Back to the original question - yes, I think a uplifted species would think somewhat like us. But not for the 'typical' reason, but for another, which I'll call 'cross-species bootstrapping'. In this example, I'll use wolves, mainly because I believe they're one of the 'runners-up' in the race to 'breakthrough sentience'.

Human civilisation is the net result of hundreds of thousands of years of human development; uplifted wolves would be starting at year 0 in this long, long trek. While they'd think much of what we do was stupid and pointless, they'd see the obvious benefits of say, prey-herd management. They'd either copy us (to the best of their ability) or we'd teach them. Why would they work it out from scratch? - humanity's been there, done that. If a piss-poor nation wants to build an oil refinery, they don't get their 'best and brightest' to go off and learn how to make it all from scratch - they get the kit and books from abroad.

One of the main reasons for the triumph of 'European culture' is due to this; for two centuries, we dominated the world scientifically and industrially - our culture followed in the wake of steam-trains, factories and electricity. They became more like us, because we were giving them our 'map to the future'. And over generations, this made the locals think, act and (often) talk increasingly like us Europeans. Case in point - what clothes does the Chinese president wear? A nice tailored suit, not traditional silk garb.

But back to my uplifted wolves. Over generations they'd develop, and though the language / species barrier would protect them somewhat, they would slowly pick up 'human ways' as they adapted what we had already done to their needs. And as they borrow more from us, they'll start thinking more like us. Then they're on the treadmill I outlined earlier. It'll be quicker than you'd expect, too - we've managed to utterly destroy 'backwards' cultures within three generations in the past. And that's not even taking into account how many human researchers would go nuts attempting to interact with these suddenly 'wise wolves' and teaching loads of human habits in the process...

regdog
09-29-2014, 07:05 PM
Many animals have complex communication, tool using, and social interactions.

Just because a human can use a hammer doesn't make it any more intelligent than other animals. Just different.

Are humans considered more intelligent because we are self aware?

Dolphins, whales and primates have shown this as well.

Killer whales have language unique to each family pod, just as we have different languages.

Elephants have generational memory. Matriarchs have brought their families to feeding and watering grounds that they themselves have never been to but great great mothers had used.

Human kill because we can. Dolphins kill because they can. It is well documented that bottle nosed dolphins hunt down and kill smaller porpoise just because they can. There is no competition for food or threat from the smaller porpoise, some bottle nose just kill them.

Killer whales will hunt down and kill smaller whales, dolphins and sharks, and by smaller sharks I do mean large great white. They don't eat what they kill, just kill it and move it.

In essence we are no different or rate any higher on the evolution and intelligence chain than any other creature on the planet. We just think we do.

DavidMivshek
12-21-2014, 06:11 PM
1. If animals gained "higher intelligence" I hope they'd be smart enough to not copy clothing trends like "sagging pants." That's got to be the most stupid trend yet. Now, I think about it, nonhuman animals probably wonder why we just don't go bare and lift our tails to show our bunghole.

2. If nonhuman animals gained our type of intelligence, like making tools like the ones we do, forming societies like ours, etc., basically there'd be just more wars. More competition of resources. More junk made to pass away leisure time. More societal belief systems which would lead to a dystopic future faster than what we're currently experiencing. Etc.

3. Now, most people I think view nonhuman animals killing/eating nonhuman animals as just how nature is. But if nonhuman animals achieved this "higher intelligence" I think humans would think there's more evil in the world because of all the killing/eating.

4. If we took the position that we could kill off nonhuman animals on a whim because we're big and mighty then we'd soon realize how important all the pieces in life's puzzle really are for our own survival.

5. Generally, we'd probably think nonhuman animals were still pretty dumb if we still couldn't speak their languages. You know like, dogs bark just to be annoying, etc. Which is a moronic idea.

6. Humans would probably learn how to make nests while hanging out with birds, right after playing xbox with them or some other important human endeavor.

Jamesaritchie
02-18-2015, 08:26 PM
A dog doesn't see the world the way we do. A dolphin doesn't even experience the same world we experience. Why would a tiger develop weapons when it's very biology *is* a weapon?

Larry Niven's kzinti make for interesting characters. I imagine intelligent tigers being pacifists when it comes to war. Violence is for feeding. Not all these petty squabbles a weak creature like human invents for it.

The only way for a species to develop like a human is for the species to *be* human.

I don't think so. Intelligence breeds all sorts of things. An intelligent tiger would need weapons just as much as humans because claws are no match for guns, and with intelligence, tigers, which are predators by nature, would almost certainly realize there more out there than just sex and eating, and those tigers would want it.

A rabbit might be a pacifist, but not a tiger.

It's not about developing, it's about getting intelligence all at once, suddenly being able to imagine, to want, to desire, to think, to plan, to steal, and to kill for reasons other than food, all in a world run by humans.

Not that tigers don't already kill for reasons other than food. They do. Almost all predators kill for some very human like reasons, including territory, sex, and even pleasure.

I'm a meat eating predator, but not a true carnivore. Tigers eat some vegetation to get dietary fiber, but they are carnivores, and I don't see their nature changing because of intelligence. With intelligence, they would just become very, very smart, and far more deadly, predators.

cornflake
02-19-2015, 09:41 AM
I don't think so. Intelligence breeds all sorts of things. An intelligent tiger would need weapons just as much as humans because claws are no match for guns, and with intelligence, tigers, which are predators by nature, would almost certainly realize there more out there than just sex and eating, and those tigers would want it.

A rabbit might be a pacifist, but not a tiger.

It's not about developing, it's about getting intelligence all at once, suddenly being able to imagine, to want, to desire, to think, to plan, to steal, and to kill for reasons other than food, all in a world run by humans.

Not that tigers don't already kill for reasons other than food. They do. Almost all predators kill for some very human like reasons, including territory, sex, and even pleasure.

I'm a meat eating predator, but not a true carnivore. Tigers eat some vegetation to get dietary fiber, but they are carnivores, and I don't see their nature changing because of intelligence. With intelligence, they would just become very, very smart, and far more deadly, predators.

Why do you assume other animals don't do this currently?

They certainly steal (I've known more than one house pet who steals non-food items from the people in the house and sometimes neighbours, and secretes the items in a safe place - sometimes toy-like items, sometimes things they seem to just enjoy), stealing and saving items strongly implies thinking and planning, if not wanting and desiring, though anyone who spends any time around animals can offer examples of what seem obvious demonstrations of those as well.

No, we don't know what they're thinking, but I don't really know what other humans are thinking either. I know what some of them say, but I can have a conversation with Koko or Michael or Alex the parrot too so...

robjvargas
02-19-2015, 06:08 PM
I don't think so. Intelligence breeds all sorts of things. An intelligent tiger would need weapons just as much as humans because claws are no match for guns, and with intelligence, tigers, which are predators by nature, would almost certainly realize there more out there than just sex and eating, and those tigers would want it.

A tiger in its home territory against a human with a gun... that's an even fight.

We developed according to our abilities *and* our limitations. Humans, in general, don't have a "killing physiology," so weapons were necessary to enhance that limitation.

I'm not saying there would be no similarities to humans. But tigers, dogs, dolphins, they don't live in that same world (so to speak) that wrought our intelligence. So why would they develop it in the same fashion we did?

Some of the speculation about the Alien xenomorphs is that the tail is both a weapon and a means of communication. Interesting thought. Their biting tongue certainly doesn't support speech as we know it. I think we forget that, biologically, we in North American are not really all that different from some isolated tribe in the Amazon Basin. If one of those people were raised in a North American culture, they'd be just as capable of what we consider "intelligence" as any of the animals we're discussing. Yet they developed a completely different culture, different beliefs, whole different attitudes about their world and the people around them.

Why would animals, some of whom see this world in entirely different ways than we do, not be even more radically differentiated from whatever it is that we think of as "intelligent"? Would wolf packs cease to exist just because wolves gained a new level of mental acuity/understanding?

Albedo
02-19-2015, 06:29 PM
Yes, all of the above.

And don't forget that tigers are solitary animals, unlike humans, who evolved from highly social primates. That difference in sociality alone would make a sapient tiger act very differently to us.

Ravioli
02-20-2015, 03:07 AM
I have bred rats in adequate conditions, where they could develope naturally and reasonably, for years and observed human-like behavior. They cared for their weak, but there was also bullying of specific victims and a lot of other ugly things typically human.

Chimpanzees rape.

I don't think animals would make better (ie. nicer) humans. WE are animals ourselves; we share DNA, we are anatomically identical to mammals in that we have 2 eyes, 1 nose, 1 mouth, and 4 legs - we are not that different and there is no reason that evil and ill intent should be exclusive to us.

Animals can be mean and petty. My bitch always attacks my male dog when he gets even the lousiest of treats while she has gotten the same or better. She will drop a meaty bone to shred him over a stale bisquit. She will attack him for his toy. Whatever he finds and takes an interest in, she attacks him for when she doesn't care for it otherwise.

I work at a pet shop. There are 3 love birds left out of 10. One customer bought a single bird so there is one without a partner. Two are a couple, and the loner tries to inch in on them and share in on the affection. The male of the couple however, keeps getting in the way in the most hilarious manners. He doesn't straight out attack. He holds his foot in the intruder's face, he shrills and beaks at him over his mate's shoulder, and flutters in between the two to separate them. When she looks at the intruder, her mate nips and shrieks at her to remind her, "Biotch, you mine".

A cat of mine would bully the newbie. Once, it was winter, the sliding door to the back yard was open just wide enough for the newb to come in. Snow was thick and it was freezing. Instead of seeking a warm cushion, my cat would squeeze herself right in the small crack of the door and stare at the newb, daring him to try and get out of the cold. It was cruel, yet hilarious.

Give them human-level brains if you wanna see the world burn.

benbradley
02-20-2015, 03:23 AM
Here's an interesting news article, though perhaps it belongs in Science Fact:

Scientists studying the difference between human and chimpanzee DNA have found one stretch of human DNA that can make the brains of mice grow significantly bigger.
http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2015/02/19/387088596/just-a-bit-of-dna-helps-explain-humans-big-brains

cornflake
02-20-2015, 03:35 AM
I have bred rats in adequate conditions, where they could develope naturally and reasonably, for years and observed human-like behavior. They cared for their weak, but there was also bullying of specific victims and a lot of other ugly things typically human.

Chimpanzees rape.

I don't think animals would make better (ie. nicer) humans. WE are animals ourselves; we share DNA, we are anatomically identical to mammals in that we have 2 eyes, 1 nose, 1 mouth, and 4 legs - we are not that different and there is no reason that evil and ill intent should be exclusive to us.

Animals can be mean and petty. My bitch always attacks my male dog when he gets even the lousiest of treats while she has gotten the same or better. She will drop a meaty bone to shred him over a stale bisquit. She will attack him for his toy. Whatever he finds and takes an interest in, she attacks him for when she doesn't care for it otherwise.

I work at a pet shop. There are 3 love birds left out of 10. One customer bought a single bird so there is one without a partner. Two are a couple, and the loner tries to inch in on them and share in on the affection. The male of the couple however, keeps getting in the way in the most hilarious manners. He doesn't straight out attack. He holds his foot in the intruder's face, he shrills and beaks at him over his mate's shoulder, and flutters in between the two to separate them. When she looks at the intruder, her mate nips and shrieks at her to remind her, "Biotch, you mine".

A cat of mine would bully the newbie. Once, it was winter, the sliding door to the back yard was open just wide enough for the newb to come in. Snow was thick and it was freezing. Instead of seeking a warm cushion, my cat would squeeze herself right in the small crack of the door and stare at the newb, daring him to try and get out of the cold. It was cruel, yet hilarious.

Give them human-level brains if you wanna see the world burn.

I don't find that hilarious.

I don't see how those behaviours, specific to those animals, are different from those behaviours in humans, easily observed.

I'm sure lots of people could share stories of loving cooperation and selfless generosity they've seen non-human animals exhibit.

I just saw a story about someone who took in a second dog. The person lived on a large, rural property, where first dog was often tied with a lead to the porch, to sit and lay and wander when his people were about. He didn't try to run off, but it was safer. The new dog was leashed in the same manner, but apparently wanted to explore. She chewed through her leash and dashed off the porch. The person was on the property, saw it, and headed toward the house, but before he got close, the new dog saw the old dog still on the porch, so ran back and hurriedly chewed through his leash so he could come with. They dashed off on a little adventure together and were back that afternoon, buds.

Remember the toddler who fell into the gorilla enclosure in a zoo and was picked up and cradled by a gorilla who waited and then gently placed him right by the door so the humans could fetch him easily?

How many elephants adopt orphans? How many other animals adopt orphans, even those not their own species? How many stories of dogs refusing to leave their friends or humans behind, even at risk to their own safety? We're animals; yeah all animals can be mean, but I'd wager we're worse.

Brutal Mustang
02-20-2015, 04:15 AM
I don't know why people have the need to call animals (and babies) 'pure' or 'selfless', or any of that. They are not. Their selfish simplicity is what makes them so damn lovable and amusing. If they were smart, they would wreck havoc on the Earth just as we adult humans have.

'Human' problems are not 'human' problems. They're sentience problems.

Ravioli
02-20-2015, 04:35 AM
I don't find that hilarious.

I don't see how those behaviours, specific to those animals, are different from those behaviours in humans, easily observed.

I'm sure lots of people could share stories of loving cooperation and selfless generosity they've seen non-human animals exhibit.

I just saw a story about someone who took in a second dog. The person lived on a large, rural property, where first dog was often tied with a lead to the porch, to sit and lay and wander when his people were about. He didn't try to run off, but it was safer. The new dog was leashed in the same manner, but apparently wanted to explore. She chewed through her leash and dashed off the porch. The person was on the property, saw it, and headed toward the house, but before he got close, the new dog saw the old dog still on the porch, so ran back and hurriedly chewed through his leash so he could come with. They dashed off on a little adventure together and were back that afternoon, buds.

Remember the toddler who fell into the gorilla enclosure in a zoo and was picked up and cradled by a gorilla who waited and then gently placed him right by the door so the humans could fetch him easily?

How many elephants adopt orphans? How many other animals adopt orphans, even those not their own species? How many stories of dogs refusing to leave their friends or humans behind, even at risk to their own safety? We're animals; yeah all animals can be mean, but I'd wager we're worse.

I never denied they were capable of good, but I refuse to do the whole warm fuzzy lovey-dovey "animals are so much better than humans" thing. Humans are capable of good, too and yet we insist on inflicting cruelty on the world.
What evidence do you have that we would still be worse than animals if animals had our capabilities? So what if a gorilla rescued a kid - so do we. So what if elephants adopt - so do humans. Every "unusual" good things animals do, we do tenfold. We also do as many times the damage animals do, but there is no evidence that animals would be more ethical than us.

Humans are mostly not cruel for sadism but because the cruelty serves their purposes. Animals have purposes too. We are good while doing good doesn't get in our way, and within the same extent animals do good. If harming everyone around them will keep them warm through the winter, then animals, too, will cut down forests to light themselves cozy little fires. If it will expand their territory and fatten them beyond their needs, they will pump oil and butcher Arabs all over again. Animals, like us, have always served their own purposes first and done charity later. There is no reason for that to change when they can do the things we do.

cornflake
02-20-2015, 06:38 AM
I don't know why people have the need to call animals (and babies) 'pure' or 'selfless', or any of that. They are not. Their selfish simplicity is what makes them so damn lovable and amusing. If they were smart, they would wreck havoc on the Earth just as we adult humans have.

'Human' problems are not 'human' problems. They're sentience problems.

If you're referring to my post, I mentioned selfless acts. I don't think other animals, or human children god knows, are pure or selfless as a cohort.

I do think they're smart, on a continuum, same as humans, but I think they'd likely wreak less havoc.


I never denied they were capable of good, but I refuse to do the whole warm fuzzy lovey-dovey "animals are so much better than humans" thing. Humans are capable of good, too and yet we insist on inflicting cruelty on the world.
What evidence do you have that we would still be worse than animals if animals had our capabilities? So what if a gorilla rescued a kid - so do we. So what if elephants adopt - so do humans. Every "unusual" good things animals do, we do tenfold. We also do as many times the damage animals do, but there is no evidence that animals would be more ethical than us.

Humans are mostly not cruel for sadism but because the cruelty serves their purposes. Animals have purposes too. We are good while doing good doesn't get in our way, and within the same extent animals do good. If harming everyone around them will keep them warm through the winter, then animals, too, will cut down forests to light themselves cozy little fires. If it will expand their territory and fatten them beyond their needs, they will pump oil and butcher Arabs all over again. Animals, like us, have always served their own purposes first and done charity later. There is no reason for that to change when they can do the things we do.

Sure humans do good things, and other animals do jerky things.

I do think humans are much more often cruel for, basically, sadistic purposes though, yeah. I think people tend to enjoy it - a lot more than I think other animals tend to, or more people tend to than I think similar numbers of other animals tend to. Other animals (at least a number that we've tested for this), same as us, want things to be fair, and are aggrieved when stuff is not.

It's an opinion, but I tend to think we're a particularly nasty, self-serving and destructive species. I don't know that we always were, but right now? I think the world would be better off if like, the elephants were in charge, yeah.

Brutal Mustang
02-20-2015, 07:21 AM
Somewhere I ran into a video I wished I hadn't, of a pack of young male chimps tossing around and tearing apart a baby chimp for the sport of it. They were grinning, and seemed to be having a good time, while the baby died a slow, horrible death.

Animals are no different than humans. It's just that, because of sentience, the good or bad humans do is often magnified a million fold. Or billions fold, if you consider how one human can affect the lives of billions. A dickish chimp, on the other hand, will only affect the 20 other chimps in its near vicinity.

cornflake
02-20-2015, 07:33 AM
Somewhere I ran into a video I wished I hadn't, of a pack of young male chimps tossing around and tearing apart a baby chimp for the sport of it. They were grinning, and seemed to be having a good time, while the baby died a slow, horrible death.

Animals are no different than humans. It's just that, because of sentience, the good or bad humans do is often magnified a million fold. Or billions fold, if you consider how one human can affect the lives of billions. A dickish chimp, on the other hand, will only affect the 20 other chimps in its near vicinity.

How are you attributing that to sentience and not the happenstance of ruling the planet?

Also why do you think what you saw was for sport? Chimps can indeed be very violent, but not generally just for the hell of it.

I once saw a horrible video of a sea lion take another sea lion's cub and chuck it down a crevasse. I still remember the mother's screaming and the sight of the other sea lions holding her back with their flippers as she tried to dive down after her baby.

It wasn't sport - the two of them had been in a fight a few minutes before. The fight broke up, the one went and grabbed the other's baby and tossed it down the crevasse.

Albedo
02-20-2015, 07:52 AM
I think it's general knowledge that humanity's closest relatives are also pricks. But I can't think of any other extremely intelligent animals that go out of their way to hurt each other. There's violence everywhere, but mostly it seems situational: territorial, infanticide etc. Which dolphins, whales, elephants, crows, etc. torture each other's children just for fun?

Is sociopathy a specifically primate flaw?

Ravioli
02-20-2015, 12:37 PM
How are you attributing that to sentience and not the happenstance of ruling the planet?

Also why do you think what you saw was for sport? Chimps can indeed be very violent, but not generally just for the hell of it.


They are strong and smart enough to kill unwanted offspring quickly and not play with it.

It reminds me of that buffalo herd finding a dead lion cub and abusing it, as if to vent their hatred for lions. The poor thing was obviously dead and they kept abusing it. Other than scavengers, no animal pays any mind to tiny cadavers. But those buffalo went out of their way to pick that one up with their horns and fling it around.

Contrarywise, I'm still in awe about the orca who took a baby seal back to shore, or the lioness who snuggled around with a baby wildebeest, though I think she was sick. She looked sick. Full of ticks in her face, probably tick fever messing with her brains. Or maybe hormones gone wrong.


It wasn't sport - the two of them had been in a fight a few minutes before. The fight broke up, the one went and grabbed the other's baby and tossed it down the crevasse.

There are fights for sensible reasons such as resources, mates, and territory. And then there is a bunch of grown, highly intelligent animals playing soccer with a baby. Chimps are smarter than those blobs of fat that are sea lions, and rather than lumbering around in faceless colonies, extremely family-oriented and tight among one-another. They nurse and care for each other's babies. There is no reason for them to gang up on a baby and kill it slowly by passing it around to be abused if they just want it dead and over with. They can tear prey monkeys' heads off with a single yank.

There is killing for survival, killing by accident, and there is killing for fun.

Serenity Bear
02-24-2015, 10:12 PM
I think the original question is somewhat wrong, as it automatically presumes that the Human race is the most intelligent which we aren't. I think Dolphins have it over us, they can do some amazing things with sonar etc.

The question should be what would happen if the animals could become dextrous - ie have thumbs, now that would cause a revolution.

I personally see all living sentient beings as my equal, that includes trees etc. I also feel the Human Race is way behind on spirtuality with a lot of animals way ahead of us. If you want the material world yep we are the leader, but in other areas we lag well behind.

Shadow_Ferret
02-24-2015, 10:37 PM
Do you mean, do I think a suddenly intelligent lion will stop in the middle of a hunt and say, "I believe it is morally wrong for us to hunt the noble antelope and from this day forward we lions will become vegetarians. Meat is murder."?

No.

benbradley
02-25-2015, 12:18 AM
I think the original question is somewhat wrong, as it automatically presumes that the Human race is the most intelligent which we aren't. I think Dolphins have it over us, they can do some amazing things with sonar etc.
They should already have (or be able to learn) language - with their utterances they have the ability to send Morse code.


The question should be what would happen if the animals could become dextrous - ie have thumbs, now that would cause a revolution.
In my view that would give evolutionary opportunity for long-term growth of the animal's brain.

It may be medically possible to surgically modify an animal to give it opposable thumbs, based on what I've heard about reconstruction surgery for people. But I could hear some ethical objections, as well as it being a rather expensive experiment with what most would see as dubious results.

I personally see all living sentient beings as my equal, that includes trees etc. I also feel the Human Race is way behind on spirtuality with a lot of animals way ahead of us. If you want the material world yep we are the leader, but in other areas we lag well behind.
I dunno, to me those other areas are more elusive that Dark Matter.

Do you mean, do I think a suddenly intelligent lion will stop in the middle of a hunt and say, "I believe it is morally wrong for us to hunt the noble antelope and from this day forward we lions will become vegetarians. Meat is murder."?

No.
I'm reminded of this joke (http://www.naute.com/jokes/atheist.phtml).

robjvargas
02-25-2015, 12:38 AM
I think the original question is somewhat wrong, as it automatically presumes that the Human race is the most intelligent which we aren't. I think Dolphins have it over us, they can do some amazing things with sonar etc.

The question should be what would happen if the animals could become dextrous - ie have thumbs, now that would cause a revolution.

I personally see all living sentient beings as my equal, that includes trees etc. I also feel the Human Race is way behind on spirtuality with a lot of animals way ahead of us. If you want the material world yep we are the leader, but in other areas we lag well behind.

Have you ever seen the way a group of male dolphins will attack a female for mating?

cornflake
02-25-2015, 01:03 AM
They should already have (or be able to learn) language - with their utterances they have the ability to send Morse code.

You say this as if they don't have language. Of course they do. I saw a video of some Seaworld 'researchers' mapping some Dolphin language by isolating one dolphin from another, asking one to, say, bounce a ball twice, then bringing the other out and having the one dolphin direct the other in what the human jerks wanted, then reisolating the dolphin and changing it to three bounces and repeating, to see what the difference was between 'human jerk says bounce the thing two times' to 'three times,' though I recall it being hard to isolate a single change, presumably because it was cluttered with 'what is with them, omg with this stupidity, btw, three, like I've got time for this crap today?' Heh.

However, other research (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22129624.300-dolphin-whistle-instantly-translated-by-computer.html#.VOzlUnzF-So) has proven more fruitful. (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/07/130722-dolphins-whistle-names-identity-animals-science/) The latter link has links to other research of the same ilk.

As to implanting opposable thumbs, I can't even with the horror of that kind of experimentation.

However, even disregarding that, I don't think it'd really be demonstrable of anything. Would a grafted digit of that ilk work the same without the corresponding ligature and whatever else, and neurological connections? I don't know, but it just seems like there'd need to be more.

It's like a cochlear implant or something. You can't just put one in to an adult or even a decently old child and turn it on and have them process sound correctly. If the pathways weren't developed when they should have been, there needs to be extensive therapy to try to force connections that are missing.

Wrenware
04-20-2015, 06:44 PM
I think it may be worth noting that human beings were around for about 200,000 years before the agricultural revolution, where we transitioned from a nomadic hunter-gatherer existence to a settlement-based existence. This was about 12,000 years ago. We attained behavioral modernity about 50,000 years ago, which is when we started to do things like cave paint, dance and sing.

So, for the vast majority of our history, we humans have not been "intelligent" in the way of building complex civilizations, reading and writing, producing art, having philosophical thoughts, farming, etc.

What caused humans to make these big leaps forward? Well, schools are divided on whether they were the result of biological, sociological or environmental changes. We don't really know, although it was probably a combination of factors, and likewise we don't really know if the whole thing was one big fluke (or, indeed, a confluence of lots of little flukes).

Put another way, even if you did uplift a bunch of animals to sentience, unless you specifically raised them with a human socio-interactive template (in which case, they would presumably act a lot like humans), there's no guarantee that they'll form anything similar to what we currently think of as a human society, because there doesn't seem to have been any guarantee that humans would form anything similar to our current society.

Liosse de Velishaf
08-01-2015, 10:45 PM
Intelligence is a magnifier, not a cause. How an intelligent creatures behaves depends on its unique biological drives. A socially-solitary species is going to behave quite differently with human-level intelligence than a species that socializes in small groups or large groups or hives.

DrDoc
12-22-2016, 10:17 AM
Tools may or may not be critical. For all we know, whales ARE more intelligent than humans. But, look at their constraints: body form and environment. They have to breathe air, so they can't build cities on the ocean floor. They have no thumbs, so how could they, in all their great intelligence, even consider the idea of tools? Their communication is so sophisticated that we have not yet been able to figure out what they are saying; but we have no problem figuring out (eventually) what other human languages mean. For all we know, whales have figured out everything, and all they have to do now is eat and procreate.

Regards,

DrDoc

Helix
12-22-2016, 10:22 AM
fwiw, dolphins are known to use tools (http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0022243).

Albedo
12-22-2016, 11:00 AM
And humans have been known to eat and procreate.

Whales seem to have their priorities right, but. None of this civilization nonsense, they mostly avoid predators and live to a ripe old age, and they seem to have fun.

They may not strictly be as intelligent as us, but they're def smarter.

DrDoc
12-22-2016, 03:28 PM
Wow! Thanks for this. It is WAY cool.

Regards,

DrDoc

DrDoc
12-22-2016, 03:38 PM
The main thing whales have is communication and long life and a very large brain. Given that they don't have the distractions that come with tool-making (e.g. inventions) they have more time to just contemplate. They may truly excel in yoga, meditation, discourse, logic and mathematics.

Imagine once we discover how to communicate with them that we learn just how "civilized" they are.

GregFH
09-07-2017, 07:17 PM
And humans have been known to eat and procreate.

Whales seem to have their priorities right, but. None of this civilization nonsense, they mostly avoid predators and live to a ripe old age, and they seem to have fun.

They may not strictly be as intelligent as us, but they're def smarter.

Many whale species suffer significant loss of young to orcas. Once they get past a certain size, though, predation loss is rare.

neandermagnon
09-10-2017, 11:08 AM
I suppose the ability to form the foundations of civilizations would be the criteria. But is it possible that high intelligence won't naturally lead to formation of a sophisticated civilization? What if really intelligent lions choose to live in exactly the same way it always had, just more efficiently? They'd just hunt and breed and play as usual, with no motivation to create an economy, more complex methods of communication, art, political system, religion, etc.

There are modern hunter-gatherer cultures in the world today that haven't built a complex civilisation yet are just as intelligent and creative as all the other humans currently on the planet. We're all descended from Africans that lived approx 60,000 years ago and they had the same cognitive capacity as modern humans.

The things that makes the biggest difference in regards to developing a civilisation or not is 1. necessity - if you can live happily and safely and stay well fed as a hunter-gatherer, then why bother? 2. access to a wide network of knowledge. No-one, absolutely no-one, built a civilisation without relying on the pooled knowledge of a large network of people and all their ancestors. Compare that to these people who live as hunter-gatherers on a completely isolated island in the ocean, probably no more than a few hundred people in total, with no connection to other populations. Their pool of knowledge is much smaller and they have everything they need on their island. (BTW there really is a tribe like this, and various other hunter-gatherer tribes some isolated, others not isolated but still choosing to live their traditional way of life)

Human level intelligence is usually defined as the ability to transmit large amounts of cultural knowledge from one generation to the next. All human populations do this. The above-mentioned isolated hunter-gatherers still transmit vast amounts of cultural knowledge. This includes the ability to make accurate, deadly hunting weapons from stuff you find in the forest/plains/etc around you, knowledge of all the edible plant species, which parts can be eaten, the best time of year to gather them, plus knowledge of gathering other foods (insects, honey from bees), trapping small animals, plus how to build shelters from stuff you find around you, where and how to find water that's suitable for drinking, how to navigate across the lands you live in, everything else that's necessary for survival, and also a rich tradition of storytelling, art/crafts and music.

All human societies have complex knowledge (both practical and creative arts type skills/knowledge), one way or another. you can find traces of these things in the fossil record that show that Africans living around 70,000 - 100,000 years ago had all these things. There's enough evidence to suggest that Neandertals* had all these things, though the evidence for art is very limited. The evidence that they had a complex language and complex culture is abundant though. They were a different species so may not have been exactly the same as us but they were definitely highly intelligent.

*mythbusting: 1. Neandertals were a cousin species, not an ancestral species 2. the popular stereotype of them being brutish and unintelligent is so wrong and incorrect I can't even find the words. They were either as intelligent as us, or they fell short by a very narrow margin. It was previously thought they were less creative and innovative than us but even this is being questioned now. Their level of technology was lower but their population sizes were smaller than Homo sapiens, and I've already explained above regarding how a smaller pool of knowledge can explain a comparative lack of technological advancement even when two groups are equally as intelligent/creative.

So, back to the question about animals... humans tend to get a bit up themselves and think that there's lightyears of difference separating them from animals, but there's not. It's actually really hard to define what is uniquely human, i.e. things all human societies do that no non-human animals do. This is because our closest relatives, chimps and bonobos, are so damn clever (and humans go and make the gap even smaller by teaching bonobos to do stuff like use language, make stone tools and start fires... shout out to Kanzi, bonobo genius who even has his own Wikipedia page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanzi) )

Chimps and bonobos transmit cultural knowledge from one generation to the next (i.e. the very thing that defines human behaviour) but the quantity and type of knowledge isn't the same and they don't have a complex language that they use to transmit it. Even when they learn language from humans, they can't use it to the same extent - they can understand things like "go into the garden and get me the ball" but can't understand "go and get me the ball from the garden" and they also never ask questions out of curiosity - this indicates that they only use language to achieve a purpose, like getting food or a toy - humans use language like this but also use it for social bonding (chit chat, small talk, learning about other people or things because it's interesting). Chimps and bonobos don't really have creative arts, although some behaviour has been observed in chimps that may be a precursor behaviour to this, i.e. drumming on things, which might be interpreted a bit more like wolves howling to draw the pack together and/or to do with dominance hierarchies within the group.

The question about how you differentiate between human and animal intelligence is a vital one to ask before going into questions like in the OP, and the answer to that question is that the line is way, way thinner than you thought it was.

neandermagnon
09-10-2017, 11:20 AM
Yes, all of the above.

And don't forget that tigers are solitary animals, unlike humans, who evolved from highly social primates. That difference in sociality alone would make a sapient tiger act very differently to us.

this, times a thousand million percent

Humans are great apes. We are so "great ape" it's not even funny. When you look at generalised primate social systems and more specifically at chimp and bonobo social systems, then watch humans interact in pretty much any context, you can see clearly just how much of our ways of behaving come from the fact we're apes. Office politics? It's because we're apes. Flame wars on the internet? It's because we're primates. (https://cavepeopleandstuff.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/why-cant-humans-just-disagree-nicely/)

If humans go extinct and leave our evolutionary niche vacant*, it's definitely possible that another intelligent animal steps in and eventually becomes technologically advanced like us. I like to think it'd be the corvids as they have the vocal capacity to imitate human speech and can manipulate objects very adeptly with their beaks and can build stuff like nests already. To be honest, I think they probably already have a lot more language than they get credit for. But even if/when they become intelligent enough, they'll retain the characteristics of the group they evolved as.

*to be honest though, I can't see that happening without us taking vast numbers of other species with us. If our civilisation completely collapses, then the isolated hunter-gatherers that never abandoned their traditional ways will still be able to survive unless we've fucked up the environment that badly that they can no longer hunt and gather anything (which brings us back to taking huge numbers of other species with us). I think the scenario in one of the Red Dwarf books - where cockroaches are the only thing that survived and an adaptive radiation of cockroach descendants has led to large, intelligent cockroach descendants being the dominant species - is probably the most likely outcome.

neandermagnon
09-10-2017, 11:47 AM
I never denied they were capable of good, but I refuse to do the whole warm fuzzy lovey-dovey "animals are so much better than humans" thing. Humans are capable of good, too and yet we insist on inflicting cruelty on the world.

Totally agree. For starters, humans are animals. We have an animal nature because we're animals. Human evolution over the last couple of million years has favoured co-operation and reciprocal altruism (there's evidence that humans from 1.8 million years ago looked after vulnerable members of their group), but primates generally can be nasty bullies. You know that horrible thing where all the kids in a class gang up against one kid? That's dyed in the wool primate behaviour. The one being picked on is called the "omega" by primatologists.

Baboons are nasty, evil bullying gits. I'm so glad I'm not a baboon. If you take what's nasty about humans but remove what's good, you're kind of left with baboons.

Humans are probably the kindest and most altruistic of all the primates. We're good at keeping our primate nature in check and adults will usually try to step in and stop kids from making some poor kid the omega (notably not always though, it depends how well educated and confident the adults are). So ingrained is our altruistic nature that we are shocked and horrifed by all the humans who aren't altruistic, hence getting things out of proportion and saying things like "I've lost all faith in humanity" and believing that everyone is basically horrible. Someone's personal experience (e.g. if they've been forced into omega status most of their life) will obviously have a massive effect on how they view other people. But don't lose sight of how much good is done by so many people, like the emergency services workers and volunteers who risk their life to save people and the fact most people will help others in most situations, and fears for their own personal safety is the usual reason for not helping and not stepping in, rather than just plain not caring. And when it comes to psycopaths, their lack of humanity (the word for that is so fundamentally connected to human nature that we call it "humanity" and the opposite "inhumane") makes them stand out.

That's not to say that humans don't do evil things as well... a saying from prophet Muhammad comes to mind "humans can be better than the angels or worse than the animals" (commenting on humans capacity to do amazing good or horrific evil, with the implication that humans can choose between the two and understand the effect their actions has on the world, but angels and animals can't - Muslims believe that angels and animals don't have free will and angels can only obey God (therefore always good, but not by free will) and animals obey instinct (so can't be considered responsible if they do bad things)).

Highly intelligent animals probably will develop a similar capacity to understand the impact their actions have and choose between doing things that help rather than harm. It's also likely that some degree of altruism is necessary in order to develop to the level we're at. Solitary animals don't have the same level of intelligence as social animals, because being social demands higher cognitive functions (remembering individuals and past social interactions) and there's no reason at all for solitary animals to evolve language. Things that are good for maintaining a cohesive society in which knowledge is shared will be selected for. So if another animal goes down the same evolutionary path as humans then becoming somewhat more altruistic may well be part of that.

The Otter
09-30-2017, 09:18 AM
I chose option 3. Though I would agree that it's tough to even talk about what we mean by "increasing intelligence" when it's applied to non-human species. Intelligence is such a vague and multi-faceted concept.

Much of what we mean by "human intelligence" is tied up in the concept of verbal or written language. Some species, like dolphins, do have languages which are learned (rather than instinctive) to some degree, but they're so different from our own languages that it's hard to judge them by the same standards or determine how complex they are.

Another question might be, "What would happen if non-human animals suddenly had the capacity to learn, understand and communicate in human languages as fluently as humans do?"

As an aside, the "humans are uniquely evil and capable of higher levels of cruelty" thing has always struck me as just another form of anthropocentrism. We're animals. We're not morally better or morally worse than other species. We are, arguably, not even the most powerful or most successful species on the planet, depending on how you define "powerful" or "successful." The tardigrade is tougher than us. Cockroaches are more prolific. Bacteria keep mutating and getting smarter than our latest antibiotics; they may beat us in the end.

You could argue that because of our technology, humans can cause planetary devastation on a level that most other species couldn't, which is probably true. But I think if it gets to that point, we'll wipe ourselves out long before we ruin the entire planet. Tardigrades can live for like ten years with no food or water and can survive for days in outer space. They can surely survive anything we can dish out.

MaeZe
09-30-2017, 10:27 AM
I often wonder what we'd be like if we were genetically and/or socially closer to Bonobos than Chimpanzees (minus the pedophile component of course).

cornflake
09-30-2017, 10:33 AM
I chose option 3. Though I would agree that it's tough to even talk about what we mean by "increasing intelligence" when it's applied to non-human species. Intelligence is such a vague and multi-faceted concept.

Much of what we mean by "human intelligence" is tied up in the concept of verbal or written language. Some species, like dolphins, do have languages which are learned (rather than instinctive) to some degree, but they're so different from our own languages that it's hard to judge them by the same standards or determine how complex they are.

Another question might be, "What would happen if non-human animals suddenly had the capacity to learn, understand and communicate in human languages as fluently as humans do?"

It'd be just like if grey parrots existed? :D

As an aside, the "humans are uniquely evil and capable of higher levels of cruelty" thing has always struck me as just another form of anthropocentrism. We're animals. We're not morally better or morally worse than other species. We are, arguably, not even the most powerful or most successful species on the planet, depending on how you define "powerful" or "successful." The tardigrade is tougher than us. Cockroaches are more prolific. Bacteria keep mutating and getting smarter than our latest antibiotics; they may beat us in the end.

Just because we're animals doesn't mean we can't be worse than others.

You could argue that because of our technology, humans can cause planetary devastation on a level that most other species couldn't, which is probably true. But I think if it gets to that point, we'll wipe ourselves out long before we ruin the entire planet. Tardigrades can live for like ten years with no food or water and can survive for days in outer space. They can surely survive anything we can dish out.


I often wonder what we'd be like if we were genetically and/or socially closer to Bonobos than Chimpanzees (minus the pedophile component of course).

I thought we are closest to bonobos, no?

MaeZe
09-30-2017, 09:01 PM
I thought we are closest to bonobos, no?All three species are extremely close genetically to each other with both ape species equally close to us and even closer to each other. But there are significant differences in behavior which is yet to be determined if it is more nature or nurture.

Since the descent comes from a common ancestor and not humans descending from chimps or bonobos, if our behavior is more similar to chimps, then it is logical bonobos took a slightly different evolutionary turn.

Bonobos Join Chimps as Closest Human Relatives (http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2012/06/bonobos-join-chimps-closest-human-relatives)
An international team of researchers has sequenced the genome of the bonobo for the first time, confirming that it shares the same percentage of its DNA with us as chimps do. The team also found some small but tantalizing differences in the genomes of the three species—differences that may explain how bonobos and chimpanzees don't look or act like us even though we share about 99% of our DNA. ...

The analysis of Ulindi's complete genome, reported online today in Nature, reveals that bonobos and chimpanzees share 99.6% of their DNA. This confirms that these two species of African apes are still highly similar to each other genetically, even though their populations split apart in Africa about 1 million years ago, perhaps after the Congo River formed and divided an ancestral population into two groups. Today, bonobos are found in only the Democratic Republic of Congo and there is no evidence that they have interbred with chimpanzees in equatorial Africa since they diverged, perhaps because the Congo River acted as a barrier to prevent the groups from mixing. The researchers also found that bonobos share about 98.7% of their DNA with humans—about the same amount that chimps share with us.

But in terms of behavior, chimps are more aggressive, fight territorial wars, males control females with violence in addition to using violence to maintain their dominant status.

Are humans more like chimps or bonobos? The correct answer is changing. (https://io9.gizmodo.com/5794988/are-humans-more-like-chimps-or-bonobos-the-correct-answer-is-changing)

Conventional evolutionary wisdom has human beings branching off from a common ancestor shared between humans, chimpanzees and bonobos about 6.5 million years ago. Chimps and bonobos split from their common ancestor about 1.5 million years ago. Which makes modern humans about equally related to both species. But that doesn't seem to be the popular narrative.

Why? Well, let's not pussyfoot around. Chimpanzees are horrible animals. They are. They're dominated by violent males. They engage in bloody boundary disputes during which patrols of several large males will gang up and kill stray male members of an opposing tribe. They'll kill and eat infant chimpanzees they find, and grab any females. They fight among each other constantly and violently.

Sound familiar?

Bonobos, meanwhile, are cooperative, relatively non-violent, and respond to unfamiliar problems, social stress, or conflicts by initiating wild bonobo sex parties. In theory, they're as like us as chimps are, but let's put it this way - there have been several brawls that have broken out on the floor of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, but no orgies.

People that write these articles in popular science magazines need to make a story of it. 'More like, less different than we thought', those are phrases that make a story.

In addition researchers are going to report in similar terms because they want to emphasize any new discovery.

Then you have the tendency to look at biology (nature) as our physical selves and nurture as our socio-psychological selves. But identical-twins-raised-apart studies suggest we have less free will when it comes to our personalities than we'd like to believe. (That doesn't mean nurture can't completely muck with nature, but I digress...)

Bottom line, we seem to have more social tendencies like chimps. It suggests bonobos took an evolutionary turn that humans and chimps didn't take.


Caveat: this opinion is based on more speculation and hypothesis than yet to be proven genetics.

The Otter
09-30-2017, 09:15 PM
It'd be just like if grey parrots existed? :D

Touche. I do think birds don't get enough attention. There seem to be a lot of studies about chimps' abilities to learn sign language but not a whole lot about parrots, who in certain cases seem to be able to learn hundreds or even thousands of words. And crows can solve fairly complicated logic problems. Primate bias, maybe.

Just because we're animals doesn't mean we can't be worse than others.

"Worse" in what sense though? We can only judge ourselves by our own, human moral standards. If any criteria by which we deem ourselves to be more special or exalted are limited by human biases and a tendency to see our own strengths as inherently more impressive, then any criteria by which we judge ourselves to be uniquely evil are flawed in the same way.

If the world is Eden, we're neither Adam and Eve nor the serpent; we're one of the trees.

MaeZe
09-30-2017, 10:24 PM
... If the world is Eden, we're neither Adam and Eve nor the serpent; we're one of the trees. I found this sentence intriguing but I don't know what it means.

As for good or evil, my observation is that most people are mostly good. The few that are mostly bad however, often get more attention making it seem like people are mostly bad.

The Otter
09-30-2017, 11:29 PM
I found this sentence intriguing but I don't know what it means.

I guess just that there's a tendency to see humans as somehow existentially separate from the rest of nature, and I don't think that we are. Depending on whether people have a generally positive or generally negative impression of humans, we see humankind as either godlike--uniquely creative, resilient, elevated, etc.--or as an unnatural and destructive force that corrupted the natural, perfect balance of the world with our hubris. Either way, there's an implication that humans have some special power (like the ability to make choices) that opens up greater avenues of goodness or cruelty.

I think that in reality we're just another part of nature, acting in accordance with our nature, and we tend to overestimate how powerful we really are.

I mean, it's also totally natural for humans to have an anthropocentric viewpoint; because we are human, we see the world in a human-centric way much as squirrels probably see the world in a squirrel-centric way. To the extent that they're conscious of such things, I'd guess that squirrels also see themselves as existing at the center of creation, because that's their vantage-point.


As for good or evil, my observation is that most people are mostly good. The few that are mostly bad however, often get more attention making it seem like people are mostly bad.

I have generally the same impression but that's also largely a matter of perspective and one's personal definition of good and evil. I think most people are pro-social and have a desire to be liked, to have mutually beneficial relationships, and to be part of a community, etc. Most people aren't cruel for the sake of being cruel. But I also think most people are pretty self-centered; we're pro-social and compassionate in self-serving ways, because it gives us those pleasant warm fuzzies and because we recognize it as beneficial to us, rather than out of some abstract desire to be good. But I also don't view that as an inherently bad thing.

Roxxsmom
10-01-2017, 12:10 AM
Long, thinky post incoming.

I think humans tend towards being mostly "good" (and by good, I mean tending towards altruism. empathy and being reasonably honest) within their own communities or within circles of people to whom they are fairly close and to whom they relate. Another potentially "good" trait is curiosity, which drives us to seek out novelty and to try and understand the how and why of things (and animals and other people). People seem to develop these qualities as a part of normal development.

What follows is totally my opinion, as I'm no sociologist.

I think people who live in complex, modern societies strongly prioritize their attachments. We really have to in a world where we typically encounter hundreds (at least) of strangers each day, not to mention read about people who "aren't like us" in the media, and (in recent years) navigate through an online world with people who may not always feel real and where we never truly know how common certain attitudes and views are (does a flood of racist posts mean there are tons of racists out there, or is it just a few racist trolls multi posting).

Empathy falls off in that sort of setting, as and there's a tendency to retract and only associate with people with whom one mostly agrees. In a world where people feel like they are outnumbered, and where they're constantly bombarded with new information that opposes what they've always been taught or distracts them from the things they have to do to get by, lack of empathy, not to mention incuriosity, can start to feel like virtues. We start to otherize and to justify callous, even abusive, behavior towards "outsiders."

There are true pathologies that lead to cruel, sadistic, selfish or "evil" behavior in some (I think it's a minority) of individuals, of course--people who can't form caring attachments, even within their inner circle, or who are gratified by the infliction of pain on the unwilling. But I think a lot of people's everyday cruel, selfish, callous acts and attitudes stem from the fact that we're not really "wired up" to empathize with people or entities we don't know personally, and that we're programmed to prioritize our own wants and needs, and those of our inner circles, over those of people further from us. It's also common to assume one's own experiences are universal and a tendency towards confirmation bias.

I wonder if this might be the reason why society is becoming collectively more selfish and un-empathetic than it once was, with more and more people unwilling to pay for things like health care, education, infrastructure, environmental regulations and so on. When inconveniences or sacrifices are seen (rightly or wrongly) to be helping people we don't know or relate to, we start to act like a bunch of starving dogs in that proverbial "dog eat dog" world and to jealously guard our precious institutions from "outsiders," however we define them. It's particularly bad during periods of belt tightening, whether they be due to a true economic crisis or due to the system being manipulated by those on top so it always feels like resources are scarce.

It's a huge challenge facing democracy in an increasingly diverse and (supposedly) inclusive and interconnected world.

I don't think other species are inherently more virtuous than we are, though. By their nature, they're more likely to live in worlds where they interact mostly with those from the same population. As far as we know, wolves, crows, and chimps have no mass media or ability to communicate with members of their species that are far away from their current location, or to perceive the ways the behavior of populations on the other side of a continent might affect them.

Social species are often very territorial, violently excluding rival groups (http://www.eartharchives.org/articles/winter-is-coming-a-time-when-wolf-packs-battle-for-the-yellowstone-throne/) from their territories in behaviors that seem like rudimentary forms of warfare, and some other animals can engage in behaviors that seem to be very cruel to individuals within their own populations who don't quite fit in for some reason.

The issue is that humans, existing in the billions and wielding a greater influence on the planet as a whole than other species do, are in a position that allows our the limitations in our natural capacity for empathy to do unprecedented harm to members of our own, and to members of other species. We're effectively a global population, but we're not equipped to deal empathetically with so many who seem so different from us.

So, to conclude a very long point, I don't think "uplifted" wolves, crows, parrots, dolphins, chimps, pigs, lions, mongooses, elephants etc. would act just like humans (or like each other). Their social systems and biology would remain fundamentally different, as would their sensory capabilities and the resources they need to survive. But uplifted species with high social intelligence might develop something analogous to our systems of economics and warfare, and there would likely be individuals within their societies who victimize or take advantage of others.

Of course, if they were forced to live within the human centered world we have already created, they'd have to adapt to that too, and they might have to adopt behaviors more like ours to do so.

This is all just speculation on my part, not based on more than my general understanding of social behavior.

cornflake
10-01-2017, 01:27 AM
It'd be just like if grey parrots existed? :D

Touche. I do think birds don't get enough attention. There seem to be a lot of studies about chimps' abilities to learn sign language but not a whole lot about parrots, who in certain cases seem to be able to learn hundreds or even thousands of words. And crows can solve fairly complicated logic problems. Primate bias, maybe.

Just because we're animals doesn't mean we can't be worse than others.

"Worse" in what sense though? We can only judge ourselves by our own, human moral standards. If any criteria by which we deem ourselves to be more special or exalted are limited by human biases and a tendency to see our own strengths as inherently more impressive, then any criteria by which we judge ourselves to be uniquely evil are flawed in the same way.

If the world is Eden, we're neither Adam and Eve nor the serpent; we're one of the trees.

There's tons of research around parrot speech/communication/intellect. Dr. Pepperberg has a book for lay people 'Alex and Me,' I think it's called, as well as endless published studies over the past decades. She's the pioneer in her field, and the partner of the most famous subject, but there are plenty walking in their path. Read some of her work and doubt no longer.

Also yeah, there's plenty of work with chimps and gorillas who have extensive sign language vocabularies, and have communicated in sign for decades. There's also research into other types of language.

There was the fun study (http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/09/horses-can-use-symbols-talk-us) in which horses very quickly learned iconograpic symbols (and some used them for amusement's sake and carrot profiteering, until that was no longer an option, then just used them for their intended purpose), studies using iconographic or pictographic symbols or other language type things with many other species.

neandermagnon
10-01-2017, 02:15 AM
Bottom line, we seem to have more social tendencies like chimps. It suggests bonobos took an evolutionary turn that humans and chimps didn't take.



I disagree (in the nicest possible way :) :) :) :) ).

I also got sick of the popular media portrayal of bonobos as hippies, because they can be nasty, bullying shits when they want to be. They're not that matriarchal either. They get called that because people have patriarchy so ingrained in them that they see egalitarianism and call it matriarchy. The only thing that nudges bonobos slightly into matriarchal (only marginally) rather than egalitarian is that a male's position in the dominance hierarchy comes from his mother's position (if your mother's the alpha female then you're the alpha male). So much so that male bonobos whose mothers die are at risk of being bullied by the other males (i.e. omega status kind of bullying) because like I said they can be bullying shits when they want to be just like every other species of primate. (Baboons are still way worse.)

The main reason for disagreeing with you though is that just because western society (I mean that in the widest sense and include Islam, Judaism and a lot of Asia and North Africa in that, due to being culturally descended/significantly influenced by the Indus Valley/Mesopotamia/North Africa neolithic cultures circa 6-10kya) is very male dominated, it does not mean that this is true for the whole of human society. There are Native American (as in from the North and South American continents) and African cultures that are egalitarian rather than male chauvinist, and human societies that have no history of warfare* such as the Native Australians (who aren't particularly male chauvinist either).

*definition: one tribe/city/nation going to war against another, with soldiers/warriors and weapons designed for war... hunters (or farmers, etc) having small scale fights using hunting (or farming, etc) weapons isn't warfare. All humans do the small scale squabbles/fighting, as do chimps and bonobos (though not with weapons but only because they don't have any). Not all humans do warfare. Bonobos don't do warfare. There was one incident in common chimps that some researchers called warfare but it's not really. It was more like a gang fight. Not all humans do gang fights.

In other words, while I'd agree that there's a tendency in so-called "western civilisation" for common chimp kind of behaviour, particularly in males, this is by far not the default for humans. Look at the whole entire range of human cultures and the assertion that we're more like common chimps than bonobos falls apart.

Both bonobos and humans have followed trajectories that have led to increased co-operation and decreased violence. Humans have gone way further down this path than bonobos. There's evidence of humans caring for injured and vulnerable tribe members as early as 1.8 million years ago (a toothless old woman who survived 2 years with no teeth - someone fed her, very likely chewed food for her, most likely her children) - Like Roxxsmom said, this tendency is very much more a "look after your own" thing than a "care just as deeply about strangers miles away that you've never met.

There is evidence that both ancient and modern human altruism is limited to those that are seen as "one of us" and in the modern world systematic dehumanisation of a group of people can and does lead to mass genocide (that's exactly what Hitler did to the Jews and other groups he didn't like, which resulted in the holocaust). But humans are inherently co-operative and peaceful, moreso than other animals. You have hundreds of thousands of years of small, fairly isolated tribes living in low population density across Europe Asia and Africa relying on each other to survive. We wouldn't have evolved at all without high levels of co-operation and one war (inter tribal or factions within the tribe fighting each other) could wipe out the entire tribe... it probably happened but those tribes wouldn't have left their genes in the next generation because they'd be dead.

Human warfare didn't really take hold until the bronze age due to higher population density and large agricultural communities whose survival depended on their ability to defend the land they grew their crops on. Male chauvinism didn't really exist until the late neolithic era and came about because of economic conditions in that era. You can't say that these things are the result of human nature itself. Circumstances play a massive part. Go to Australia pre European settlers and they had a system whereby tribes settled their disputes without the need to go to war against each other. They also had low population density and access to a huge amount of land (moving away to get away from people rather than fighting) and they could hunt and gather on whatever bit of land they found themselves on, rather than relying on growing crops then defending them to the death (because losing your crops means a slower, nastier death). War is circumstantial, as is male chauvinism. It's not human nature. Confine any animal species to insufficient space and resources and they'll fight to the death to survive.

I think mostly this question comes about because humans hold ourselves and animals to very different standards. From the point of view of building a good human society, that's a good thing. "Yeah but there wasn't enough food to go around so I grabbed as much as I could to make sure I'd survive and sod everyone else" isn't a viable defence in a court of law if you're charged with theft, but that's exactly what animals do. And society is all the better for insisting that humans don't behave like animals. But it does lead to bullshit like "humans are evil and animals are noble".

neandermagnon
10-01-2017, 02:33 AM
Long, thinky post incoming.

I think humans tend towards being mostly "good" (and by good, I mean tending towards altruism. empathy and being reasonably honest) within their own communities or within circles of people to whom they are fairly close and to whom they relate.


This is so very true.

I don't agree that humans have got worse recently. Humans have stayed the same, but circumstances have got much worse. There's been a global recession which has led to people have less access to resources and feeling more marginalised financially, and in some cases socially as well. There's always been an upturn in far right ideology following economic hardship, because it forces people more into a "dog eat dog" way of thinking, and "why is my country letting foreigners come in when there's no jobs for the people who are here already?" kind of questioning.

Brexit happened because of so many working class Brits suffering directly due to a lack of affordable housing, scarily long NHS waiting lists and a lack of school places - things that are having a direct, negative impact on their lives. Our lives I should say, because I've been affected by these things (I voted to remain because I blame the Tories for these things, not immigrants). Politicians throw the blame on immigration rather than admitting that they fucked it all up by failing to invest the taxes paid by immigrants back into the communities that were being affected by the population increasing too fast for the resources available. Or whatever other economic policies they pursued that didn't involve sharing the wealth of the nation with its most vulnerable people. So the vulnerable turn on the even more vulnerable because it's easier than turning against the people in power. And the far right exploit this to the max. It happens every bloody time but no-one learns from history because they'd rather belief that Hitler had this quality called "evil" like some kind of dark force that possessed him, rather than trying to understand the economic and political background that led to him rising to power, or the tactics (systematic dehumanisation of the Jews and others he didn't like - making them* "other" and "not us") that led to him turning an entire people against another people and ultimately murdering 8 million people.

*maybe I should say "making us" as my dad's mum was from a Jewish family

MaeZe
10-01-2017, 03:02 AM
Looking for some evidence bonobos go to war, all I see are articles in publications like The Daily Mail. I'll have to get back to you on that, neandermagnon, after I have a bit more time to look into it. In the meantime if you have a scientific citation it would be helpful.

neandermagnon
10-01-2017, 03:44 AM
Looking for some evidence bonobos go to war, all I see are articles in publications like The Daily Mail. I'll have to get back to you on that, neandermagnon, after I have a bit more time to look into it. In the meantime if you have a scientific citation it would be helpful.

I didn't say that bonobos do war* I said they didn't do warfare. My point was that they sometimes fight and can be bullies, which is a very different thing - counter to the claim in popular press that they're pacifist hippies (i.e. implying that they never fight). There is one incident in common chimps that was considered by some researches to be a bit like a war. I don't have the academic citations for that but it was reported in the press at the time and I read about it from a more academic source. Probably the New Scientist but I won't be able to remember the issue number. I, personally, would not consider the incident to be warfare, but the researchers who observed it did.

*I edited one bit in the post in case it wasn't 100% clear what I mean. I'm making a distinction between small scale fighting (like a punch-up/squabble/scrap type thing that all animal species do and happens in all human societies) and warfare (that some humans do in some circumstances but not all human societies do, and it's debatable whether common chimps do).

Unfortunately there's a tendency for people, especially journalists, to polarise everything. Like portraying common chimps as aggressive, warlike, male chauvinist bastards and bonobos as hippie liberal never fighting matriarchal good guys. The reality is that neither species is like those extremes. Bonobos are somewhat less aggressive than common chimps. Both species are co-operative a lot of the time. Bonobo females have higher status within their society than common chimp females. Homosexual behaviour is more common in bonobos but exists in both species. Common chimps sometimes use m/m sex to avoid m/m conflict/confrontation, just not as often as bonobos do. Bonobo females are interested in sex all through their cycle but common chimp females only want sex when they're ovulating, and sex for bonding/social cohesion is used more than it is in common chimps, and is also why bonobo females have higher status (f/f bonding through sex). Human females are potentially interested in sex all round their cycle, but for different evolutionary reasons to bonobos and it evolved separately. Human females have hidden ovulation, which neither bonobos or common chimps have.

I don't have access to academic references beyond what I can look up on google (I don't have any access to paid journals) though I studied all the above at uni as part of a human sciences degree (massive amount of emphasis on human evolution, hence doing a lot about generalised primate behaviour especially apes and especially chimps and bonobos). Most of what I've read on the subject in the last few years comes from various blogs of evolutionary biologists, primatologists and the New Scientist. Most of the information can probably be found in first year university textbooks on the subject, albeit that the common chimp warfare incident would only be in anything publised in the last couple of years because I don't think the article came out much more than a year ago (sorry I'm so crap at remembering dates).

MaeZe
10-01-2017, 04:40 AM
With all due respect, neandermagnon, you are doing to me just what you are accusing is done in the "popular press", drawing assumptions broader than I posted.

I notice you used the wording The Daily Mail used, "'Hippie' apes like to make war as well as love, reveals new study of human-like bonobos" (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1077440/Hippie-apes-like-make-war-love-reveals-new-study-human-like-bonobos.html).

This was my original statement:
I often wonder what we'd be like if we were genetically and/or socially closer to Bonobos than Chimpanzees (minus the pedophile component of course).

Then I expanded on that saying this:
But in terms of behavior, chimps are more aggressive, fight territorial wars, males control females with violence in addition to using violence to maintain their dominant status.

Is there anything in those statements you think contradicts what you believe the evidence supports about bonobos?

The Daily Mail article essentially says research found bonobos were more carnivorous than previously believed.

From the article:
He said the new findings, by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, challenge the widely held view that male dominance and aggression is directly linked to hunting behaviour.That's not a conclusion I made, was talking about, or in fact, even knew was an hypothesis.

They also note:
‘We always have this view that hunting is a male business,’ said Dr Hohmann. ‘What our study shows is this is not necessarily the case.

‘This has implications for models on early humans that people have proposed how humans have evolved.’Hah, 'we have always hunted'. (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22398626-we-have-always-fought) ;)

That bonobos were observed hunting chimps is interesting (and news to me) but also not a contradiction to what I posted.


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? :e2flowers

Roxxsmom
10-01-2017, 04:47 AM
There's tons of research around parrot speech/communication/intellect. Dr. Pepperberg has a book for lay people 'Alex and Me,' I think it's called, as well as endless published studies over the past decades. She's the pioneer in her field, and the partner of the most famous subject, but there are plenty walking in their path. Read some of her work and doubt no longer.

Also yeah, there's plenty of work with chimps and gorillas who have extensive sign language vocabularies, and have communicated in sign for decades. There's also research into other types of language.

There was the fun study (http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/09/horses-can-use-symbols-talk-us) in which horses very quickly learned iconograpic symbols (and some used them for amusement's sake and carrot profiteering, until that was no longer an option, then just used them for their intended purpose), studies using iconographic or pictographic symbols or other language type things with many other species.

I remember that the research with Alex suggested that gray parrots (at least, and possibly other kinds) can sort and assign properties to objects they haven't been specifically taught. For instance, once they learn what a circle is, and what blue is in separate contexts, they can successfully name a "blue circle" the first time they see one. This may seem pretty basic, but very few animals can do this. I don't know if they've tested crows and ravens for this ability yet, but they seem to pass most of the cognition tests with flying colors.

I went to the eclipse up in Salem last month, and one thing that was interesting during totality is that every crow at the park started yelling at the top of their lungs when the sun went behind the cloud. I've heard that birds will sometimes act like it's night time and bed down during totality, but these crows were all perched on top of the school building behind the park during the show, and crows don't usually start cawing when the sun goes down. I have no idea why they were doing this, but it really did look like they knew something was *wrong* and that it shouldn't be getting so dark at that time of day. It's a shame eclipses are so rare that it would be impossible to test different hypotheses about this behavior during natural eclipses. Maybe if groups of crows could be housed in large planetarium domes and eclipses were simulated...

Of course, they could have just been yelling at us humans to shut up, since we were all oohing and ahhhing. Or maybe the crows were saying (in crowish), "Wow! That's AMAZING!"

There's been a recent olfactory version of the mirror recognition test that's been applied to dogs (and they do appear to recognize and respond to their own scent in different contexts) btw. It's not completely conclusive, because it's hard to create a perfect olfactory parallel to the white dot on the forehead thing with the mirror test. It makes sense, though, that an animal that recognizes much about their world via olfaction would be less inclined to have a visually centered sense of self-ness.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/22/science/dogs-smell-recognition.html?mcubz=1

Albedo
10-01-2017, 05:01 AM
A society where all social problems are solved w/ sex rather than violence sounds like an absolute nightmare to me, fwiw.

Re: discussion over whether or not we're more 'evil' than other animals, I'll just say that while a lot of animals are violent, not many have the theory of mind sophisticated enough to know the creature being hurt is suffering (and the capacity to rationalise it away/not care/enjoy it). That's mostly a human thing. Maybe chimps can be sociopathic. Does a dolphin battering a porpoise to death actually know that the porpoise is terrified, or is it just another small flighty object like the fish it eats? How would you tell?

If we had the science to uplift animals, we could probably engineer the potential for sociopathy out of them.

cornflake
10-01-2017, 05:05 AM
Oh, Alex (and some of his pals, but he was the first), have gone much further than that in that area, yes. He can do what you describe looking at a set of dozens and dozens of objects, old and new, with, I think he had six or more material categories (wool, paper, wood, plastic, etc.), lots of colours, shapes, etc., and could find a green wool triangle, even if he'd never been presented with a green wool triangle, from among like 50 items, because he knew what green, wool and triangle were.

He also -- this is explained in the book and in a peer-reviewed journal article (that's easily google-able, but behind a paywall, so not linking but it's easy to find on Google Scholar) -- spontaneously expressed an understanding of the concept of zero. As noted in this article (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/07/0715_050715_parrotzero.html) on the finding, it's thought the Greeks didn't even come up with that spontaneously. Alex, however...


Pepperberg's most recent research with Alex, co-authored with Brandeis graduate student Jesse D. Gordon, is detailed in the current issue of the Journal of Comparative Psychology.

It not only shows that Alex can count jelly beans, colored blocks, and other objects but also hints that he may have spontaneously come up with a "zero-like concept."

During one experiment Alex was presented with blocks in differently colored sets of two, three, and six. When researchers asked Alex which color group had five blocks, he answered, "None." This prompted Pepperberg to set up a series of tests in which the parrot consistently identified zero quantities of objects with the label "none."

Alex had been taught the term "none" to indicate when neither of two identically sized objects was larger than the other. He had also used it to indicate when there was no difference in other qualities, such as color or shape, among a set of objects.

But Alex had never been taught to use "none" to indicate an absence of a quantity—that idea he apparently came up with by himself.

"That Alex transferred the notion from other domains to quantity, without training or prompting by humans, was unexpected," Pepperberg said.

ETA: Just in case, because some may not be familiar, Alex was a grey African parrot who worked with Dr. Pepperberg in her research into animal intellect/communication/etc., for decades.

He became her partner when she went into a pet shop that sold birds and had a worker select a young African Grey, randomly, for her -- she did not interact with him or any of the birds, in order to not influence the selection of a research partner/animal. Alex was lauded for his brilliance, but was a randomly selected parrot from a shop. She's worked with other birds, who have also learned to communicate similarly in English, and has had many students under her who now run their own, similar labs.

So while he seems an exceptional bird, nothing suggests his intellectual or communicative capacity was exceptional for his species.

Albedo
10-01-2017, 05:09 AM
Maybe birds are just maths intuitives? Supposedly pigeons are better at solving the Monty Hall problem than humans.

cornflake
10-01-2017, 05:22 AM
Alex was also generally conversational, as are the other birds.

One, N'Kisi, Jane Goodall had read about and wanted to meet. His research people showed him a video of Goodall, before the visit. In the video, Goodall was in the jungle working. When she came to the lab, the bird turned, saw her, and said, 'Got a chimp?'

He also had this exchange: (http://scienceblogs.com/retrospectacle/2006/07/28/friday-grey-matters-the-story-2/) I've mentioned some of this stuff to people, who think I or the people involved are making it up. They're researchers. This stuff is on tape.


The conversation that most astonished Aimee Morgana came after she and N’kisi went for a drive in her car:

N’Kisi: “Remember, we went in a car”
Aimee: “Yes! Did you like it?”
N’Kisi: “I like that – wanna go out in the car”
Aimee: “We can’t, wo don’t have a car now”
N’Kisi: “Wanna go in a car right now”
Aimee: “I’m sorry, we can’t right now – maybe we can go again later”
N’kisi: “Why can’t I go in a car now?”
Aimee: “Because we don’t have one”
N’kisi: “Let’s get a car”
Aimee: “No Kisi, we can’t get a car now”
N’kisi: “I want a car”
Aimee: “I’m sorry, baby, not today”
N’kisi: “Hurry up, wanna go in a car. Remember? We were in a car”

MaeZe
10-01-2017, 05:34 AM
Alex was also generally conversational, as are the other birds.

One, N'Kisi, Jane Goodall had read about and wanted to meet. His research people showed him a video of Goodall, before the visit. In the video, Goodall was in the jungle working. When she came to the lab, the bird turned, saw her, and said, 'Got a chimp?'

He also had this exchange: (http://scienceblogs.com/retrospectacle/2006/07/28/friday-grey-matters-the-story-2/) I've mentioned some of this stuff to people, who think I or the people involved are making it up. They're researchers. This stuff is on tape.
I love that. Reminds me when my son was first learning to talk and I had forgotten his banky (blanket). His answer to learning that was, "go home get it". This was his very first sentence.

MaeZe
10-01-2017, 05:54 AM
... I went to the eclipse up in Salem last month, and one thing that was interesting during totality is that every crow at the park started yelling at the top of their lungs when the sun went behind the cloud. I've heard that birds will sometimes act like it's night time and bed down during totality, but these crows were all perched on top of the school building behind the park during the show, and crows don't usually start cawing when the sun goes down. I have no idea why they were doing this, but it really did look like they knew something was *wrong* and that it shouldn't be getting so dark at that time of day. It's a shame eclipses are so rare that it would be impossible to test different hypotheses about this behavior during natural eclipses. Maybe if groups of crows could be housed in large planetarium domes and eclipses were simulated...

Of course, they could have just been yelling at us humans to shut up, since we were all oohing and ahhhing. Or maybe the crows were saying (in crowish), "Wow! That's AMAZING!"...You might enjoy this (be sure to also read the comments):

How will crows respond to the eclipse? (https://corvidresearch.blog/2017/08/19/how-will-crows-respond-to-the-eclipse/)

MaeZe
10-01-2017, 05:57 AM
.... Re: discussion over whether or not we're more 'evil' than other animals, I'll just say that while a lot of animals are violent, not many have the theory of mind sophisticated enough to know the creature being hurt is suffering (and the capacity to rationalise it away/not care/enjoy it). That's mostly a human thing. Maybe chimps can be sociopathic. Does a dolphin battering a porpoise to death actually know that the porpoise is terrified, or is it just another small flighty object like the fish it eats? How would you tell?

If we had the science to uplift animals, we could probably engineer the potential for sociopathy out of them.You might be interested in the research on the evolution of empathy. It didn't magically start with the evolutionary step of becoming human.

Roxxsmom
10-01-2017, 06:01 AM
I have generally the same impression but that's also largely a matter of perspective and one's personal definition of good and evil. I think most people are pro-social and have a desire to be liked, to have mutually beneficial relationships, and to be part of a community, etc. Most people aren't cruel for the sake of being cruel. But I also think most people are pretty self-centered; we're pro-social and compassionate in self-serving ways, because it gives us those pleasant warm fuzzies and because we recognize it as beneficial to us, rather than out of some abstract desire to be good. But I also don't view that as an inherently bad thing.

I think that's a good way of putting it. I think we also all have a sort of push/pull thing going with regards of how much we want to be part of a community versus being our own people who call our own shots too. Cultures vary in their views on individualism versus collectivism, of course. Still, even within a culture, there do seem to be personal differences in prosocial tendencies. Why does one kid take great delight in playing games and in role playing with careful attention to sharing and cooperation, while another (maybe even within the same family, will automatically say "no" to any suggestion anyone else makes in a group activity? Why does one kid who watches Star Wars idolize the "good guys," while another kid idolizes Darth Vader, the villain (I know, because one of my friend's kids was like this. He always related most to the bad guys in movies and TV shows).

Why do some people, even as adults, get furious at the idea that they might have to rein in their behavior in some situations for the sake of getting along and not hurting feelings (and they will rail about political correctness or about how nice guys finish last when called on it), while others naturally try to be tactful and sensitive and feel horrible if they learn they've hurt someone's feelings?

Even within the realm of behavior most would agree is "not evil," there's a lot of variation in "niceness." And even people most would consider evil can be "nice" in some situations. I'm not saying all people who like to march to the beat of their own drummer are callous, selfish, or insensitive. I'm pretty quirky and individualistic, but I feel terrible if I hurt someone's feelings or discover that someone is angry at me (even when logic tells me the issue may be more about them than about me), or if I've let someone down. But I know people who positively sneer at the idea that they're supposed to be "nice." It's almost as if the concept of "supposed to" anything, no matter how reasonable, gets their backs up.

It's complicated.

Albedo
10-01-2017, 06:40 AM
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.

Ms.Pencila
10-01-2017, 06:41 AM
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).

cornflake
10-01-2017, 06:53 AM
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?

Albedo
10-01-2017, 07:06 AM
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.

Albedo
10-01-2017, 07:15 AM
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?

cornflake
10-01-2017, 07:24 AM
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.

The Otter
10-01-2017, 07:36 AM
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.

Victor Douglas
10-01-2017, 07:51 AM
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.

cornflake
10-01-2017, 08:50 AM
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 (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/20/science/20moral.html) over and over. (https://www.newscientist.com/article/2120909-monkeys-and-dogs-judge-humans-by-how-they-treat-others/)


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 (https://phys.org/news/2017-06-ravens-people-months.html)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.

MaeZe
10-01-2017, 09:02 AM
...
Ravens (https://phys.org/news/2017-06-ravens-people-months.html)refuse to associate with humans who cheat them, or other ravens who steal.That is fascinating, absolutely fascinating.

neandermagnon
10-01-2017, 09:47 AM
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? :e2flowers

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.

neandermagnon
10-01-2017, 10:25 AM
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.

neandermagnon
10-01-2017, 10:50 AM
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).

Albedo
10-01-2017, 11:39 AM
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.

neandermagnon
10-01-2017, 12:09 PM
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.

cornflake
10-01-2017, 07:07 PM
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. (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/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.

Albedo
10-01-2017, 07:27 PM
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. (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/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.

MaeZe
10-01-2017, 07:55 PM
... 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.


...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.


...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.


...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.

The Otter
10-01-2017, 08:59 PM
Ravens (https://phys.org/news/2017-06-ravens-people-months.html)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...

Antipode91
11-25-2017, 09:07 AM
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.