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jonsills' Thought Experiment on Sapience

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    starkaosstarkaos Member Posts: 11,556 Arc User
    while a psionically endowed species might be able to 'mind-read' very small organisms as proxy-microscopes.
    But what are psionic, how do they evolve, and why? Or is this just "magic"? And do very small organism have minds to read?

    With an infinite number of species, there will be some that develop characteristics that are beyond our current comprehension. We only know of what evolution is currently capable of on Earth not what will be possible in the future or what evolutionary characteristics will be provided on an alien world.

    All we can say is that psionic abilities is we have no idea if it is possible, how they would work, or what evolutionary process is required for an alien species to develop psionic abilities.
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    brian334brian334 Member Posts: 2,214 Arc User
    There are animal species with electrical sensors capable of detecting minute electrical fields. Since thought is an electrical process, it is not inconceivable that psionics rely upon the ability to make sense of the electrical fields generated by thinking. Or maybe not.

    My current understanding of the field as humans know it is that while there are some unexplained phenomenon, the vast majority of psionic and psychic powers rely upon stage-magic to work. It may well be that there is noting more to it than that.
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    jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 10,409 Arc User
    "Psionic" is a null word, a bit of technobabble invented by SF writers in the '50s who wanted their heroes to have vast mental powers like good old Kimball Kinnison but without a Lens. It was based on the idea of there being a unit of "mental energy" called a "psion", and is about as scientific as Kal-El's ability to absorb radiation from G-class stars (and only G-class stars) to fuel his Superman powers.

    Speculating about aliens developing advanced psionics to bypass the need for technology is as meaningful as speculating about their ability to evolve from naturally-occurring gears and levers.
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    ryan218ryan218 Member Posts: 36,106 Arc User
    It's also worth remembering that despite decades of research on the subject, there has been no conclusive evidence as to the existence of extrasensory perception (ESP) which most modern sci-fi telepaths rely upon to exist. It's about as proven a scientific fact as the Einstein-Rosen Bridge.
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    markhawkmanmarkhawkman Member Posts: 35,231 Arc User
    ryan218 wrote: »
    It's also worth remembering that despite decades of research on the subject, there has been no conclusive evidence as to the existence of extrasensory perception (ESP) which most modern sci-fi telepaths rely upon to exist. It's about as proven a scientific fact as the Einstein-Rosen Bridge.
    And well... all forms of FTL. :p
    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
    My character Tsin'xing
    Costume_marhawkman_Tsin%27xing_CC_Comic_Page_Blue_488916968.jpg
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    brian334brian334 Member Posts: 2,214 Arc User
    edited February 2019
    But we know that technological sapience evolved at least once. Contrary to what Mr. Hawkings said on the subject, life evolved on Earth at about the earliest opportunity. In fact, it evolved while conditions were still far too harsh for modern life. Even though it required another two and a half billion years for that life to become intelligent, that still leaves us with some 5 billion years to evolve to the point where extra-solar transportation is feasible to prevent our extinction when our sun dies. (That's more than the time it took use to evolve from scratch.)

    Of course, our distant descendants will not be very much like us because evolution never stops. That may mean we become Morlocks and Eloi: unintelligent animals who use remnant technology only because their ancestors, our descendants, built unbreakable machines.

    Earth has the capacity to generate new forms of intelligence, and there are the seeds of it all around us. Intelligent trees may be a ways off, by another few billion years, (and what good would it do them if biology prevents their use of technology, as it does with whales?) But as jonsills has speculated, the next technologically adept beings might be right here, right now.

    Based on the brain to body mass ratio, some dolphins and chimps are in the same neighborhood as man. This doesn't seem to mean a lot, because chihuahuas seem as intelligent as Labrador retrievers despite having a brain the size of a walnut. With humans there seems to be a minimum mass required to be functionally human, but that may be specific to the human brain. Domestic cats are no less, and are possibly more, intelligent than Bengal tigers.

    Brain mass seems to favor elephants and whales, but that mass seems very specialized, in both cases, for handling large bodies rather than for abstract thinking power.

    Our ancestors had very chimp-like brains 3 million years ago. While the great apes learned knuckle-walking, over the same 3 million years humans learned to walk upright and not only grew brains which were triple in size to the original prototype, they also added features not found on most other creatures. We got the special edition brain!

    So take any current species, lizard, bird, or mammal, (I'm assuming air-breathing terrestrials because I'm a chauvinist,) and give them three million years of hard-core brain development, not only in mass but in complexity, and voila. I'm thinking some species are already much closer to that breakthrough than we might think. They might make the leap in hundreds of thousands of years rather than the millions it required for us.

    But are we the first? Suppose the cause of the dinosaur extinction was caused by intelligent dinos whose technology polluted the Earth to the point of a dieback event, and the Yucatan asteroid strike was just coincidental? Germ warfare between rival 'intelligent' dinosaurs! Or possibly the less than ecologically friendly practices of the Wesayso Corporation had something to do with it.
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    starkaosstarkaos Member Posts: 11,556 Arc User
    brian334 wrote: »
    But are we the first? Suppose the cause of the dinosaur extinction was caused by intelligent dinos whose technology polluted the Earth to the point of a dieback event, and the Yucatan asteroid strike was just coincidental? Germ warfare between rival 'intelligent' dinosaurs! Or possibly the less than ecologically friendly practices of the Wesayso Corporation had something to do with it.

    That has to be one of the saddest series finale in a Kids TV show. If there was technological dinos, then there should be some evidence of it if they had similar technology to our own. If they used gold, then there should be some gold artifacts.
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    starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,963 Arc User
    edited February 2019
    I do think mastery of fire is a big tipping point. In addition to smelting, which we discussed earlier, there's a lot of other benefits to it that enable selection for greater and greater intelligence.
    • Fire can be used to scare away predators.
    • Fire allows for cooking, which kills pathogens and makes food easier to digest, meaning the sapient-in-progress can "work smarter, not harder" at hunting and gathering.
    • Fire can be used to clear land for agriculture, which allows nomadic hunter-gatherers to transition to (relatively) stationary farmers who don't have to work as hard to get food and therefore have more free time for thinking (using that big brain helpfully fueled by aforementioned barbecued critter-of-the-day*).

    * Which is not strictly accurate: the diet we evolved on is actually mostly vegetarian, and even into the Middle Ages and Renaissance the commonfolk got most of their protein from beans (love me some lentils :)). Meat was a rare treat for most of us for much of our existence.
    "Great War! / And I cannot take more! / Great tour! / I keep on marching on / I play the great score / There will be no encore / Great War! / The War to End All Wars"
    — Sabaton, "Great War"
    VZ9ASdg.png

    Check out https://unitedfederationofpla.net/s/
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    starkaosstarkaos Member Posts: 11,556 Arc User
    azrael605 wrote: »
    > starkaos said:
    > brian334 wrote: »
    >
    > But are we the first? Suppose the cause of the dinosaur extinction was caused by intelligent dinos whose technology polluted the Earth to the point of a dieback event, and the Yucatan asteroid strike was just coincidental? Germ warfare between rival 'intelligent' dinosaurs! Or possibly the less than ecologically friendly practices of the Wesayso Corporation had something to do with it.
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > That has to be one of the saddest series finale in a Kids TV show. If there was technological dinos, then there should be some evidence of it if they had similar technology to our own. If they used gold, then there should be some gold artifacts.

    No possible way there could be. Civilizations from much more recently in history such as the city of Troy were erased so completely that even today there is debate about it even existing. Thats just a few thousand years ago, not hundreds of millions.

    Which is why I mentioned gold artifacts. The best way to preserve the knowledge of a civilization is to use gold or platinum since there are few chemicals that react with them and usually it involves heating the gold or platinum to high temperatures to make them react. So a gold or platinum book or artifact should be able to last 65 million years.
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    starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,963 Arc User
    azrael605 wrote: »
    starkaos wrote: »
    brian334 wrote: »
    But are we the first? Suppose the cause of the dinosaur extinction was caused by intelligent dinos whose technology polluted the Earth to the point of a dieback event, and the Yucatan asteroid strike was just coincidental? Germ warfare between rival 'intelligent' dinosaurs! Or possibly the less than ecologically friendly practices of the Wesayso Corporation had something to do with it.

    That has to be one of the saddest series finale in a Kids TV show. If there was technological dinos, then there should be some evidence of it if they had similar technology to our own. If they used gold, then there should be some gold artifacts.

    No possible way there could be. Civilizations from much more recently in history such as the city of Troy were erased so completely that even today there is debate about it even existing. Thats just a few thousand years ago, not hundreds of millions.
    Not very serious debate: the academic consensus these days is that it was real and located on the west coast of modern-day Turkey.
    "Great War! / And I cannot take more! / Great tour! / I keep on marching on / I play the great score / There will be no encore / Great War! / The War to End All Wars"
    — Sabaton, "Great War"
    VZ9ASdg.png

    Check out https://unitedfederationofpla.net/s/
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    markhawkmanmarkhawkman Member Posts: 35,231 Arc User
    starswordc wrote: »
    azrael605 wrote: »
    starkaos wrote: »
    brian334 wrote: »
    But are we the first? Suppose the cause of the dinosaur extinction was caused by intelligent dinos whose technology polluted the Earth to the point of a dieback event, and the Yucatan asteroid strike was just coincidental? Germ warfare between rival 'intelligent' dinosaurs! Or possibly the less than ecologically friendly practices of the Wesayso Corporation had something to do with it.
    That has to be one of the saddest series finale in a Kids TV show. If there was technological dinos, then there should be some evidence of it if they had similar technology to our own. If they used gold, then there should be some gold artifacts.
    No possible way there could be. Civilizations from much more recently in history such as the city of Troy were erased so completely that even today there is debate about it even existing. Thats just a few thousand years ago, not hundreds of millions.
    Not very serious debate: the academic consensus these days is that it was real and located on the west coast of modern-day Turkey.
    The number of lost cities that have been found in various places has made me wonder how many "legendary" cities are actually completely fictional.
    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
    My character Tsin'xing
    Costume_marhawkman_Tsin%27xing_CC_Comic_Page_Blue_488916968.jpg
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    jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 10,409 Arc User
    azrael605 wrote: »
    > @starswordc said:
    > azrael605 wrote: »
    >
    > starkaos wrote: »
    >
    > brian334 wrote: »
    >
    > But are we the first? Suppose the cause of the dinosaur extinction was caused by intelligent dinos whose technology polluted the Earth to the point of a dieback event, and the Yucatan asteroid strike was just coincidental? Germ warfare between rival 'intelligent' dinosaurs! Or possibly the less than ecologically friendly practices of the Wesayso Corporation had something to do with it.
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > That has to be one of the saddest series finale in a Kids TV show. If there was technological dinos, then there should be some evidence of it if they had similar technology to our own. If they used gold, then there should be some gold artifacts.
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > No possible way there could be. Civilizations from much more recently in history such as the city of Troy were erased so completely that even today there is debate about it even existing. Thats just a few thousand years ago, not hundreds of millions.
    >
    >
    >
    > Not very serious debate: the academic consensus these days is that it was real and located on the west coast of modern-day Turkey.

    Yes and as recently as 30 years ago the consensus was that it was completely fictional.
    That is not in fact the case. The city known as Troy (in fact, the seventh city built on that same site) was first excavated in the 1800s; there was debate for some time as to whether that was or was not Troy, but there was no debate about the city's existence, just its location.

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    jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 10,409 Arc User
    I did indeed attend public schools in the US. As a result, I was never satisfied with what was in the textbooks, and looked for other information sources as well.

    You might be surprised, even sadly shocked, by the number of things our schools teach that simply aren't so. History class, of course, is the worst for that, as most people are so ignorant of history that they can't spot a textbook with an axe to grind.
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    ryan218ryan218 Member Posts: 36,106 Arc User
    And UK textbooks teach that the English Civil War was over parliamentary sovereignty, resistance against Catholic absolutism, and democracy: all of which is false.

    School textbooks, in every country, are used as a form of propaganda.
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    starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,963 Arc User
    ^,^^This. My public school textbooks in Virginia and North Carolina (not even in the Deep South!) barely mentioned slavery as a cause for the War of Southern Aggression, never mind it being the cause like it was in reality.

    It's something I wrote into Kanril Eleya's character: she went to the Bajoran equivalent of Catholic school or yeshiva and got handed a lot of anti-Cardassian and anti-human bigotry. Learning the real history on the Space Internet actually turned her off of organized religion entirely for a while.
    "Great War! / And I cannot take more! / Great tour! / I keep on marching on / I play the great score / There will be no encore / Great War! / The War to End All Wars"
    — Sabaton, "Great War"
    VZ9ASdg.png

    Check out https://unitedfederationofpla.net/s/
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    starkaosstarkaos Member Posts: 11,556 Arc User
    starswordc wrote: »
    ^,^^This. My public school textbooks in Virginia and North Carolina (not even in the Deep South!) barely mentioned slavery as a cause for the War of Southern Aggression, never mind it being the cause like it was in reality.

    The American Civil War is far more complicated than it just being about slavery. The economy and state rights were also major contributors to that war. Wars are almost always about $ with ideals being used as a means to placate the populace to support the war. The Northern States had emancipation as their ideal while the Southern States had state rights and economy as their ideal.
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    jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 10,409 Arc User
    starkaos wrote: »
    starswordc wrote: »
    ^,^^This. My public school textbooks in Virginia and North Carolina (not even in the Deep South!) barely mentioned slavery as a cause for the War of Southern Aggression, never mind it being the cause like it was in reality.

    The American Civil War is far more complicated than it just being about slavery. The economy and state rights were also major contributors to that war. Wars are almost always about $ with ideals being used as a means to placate the populace to support the war. The Northern States had emancipation as their ideal while the Southern States had state rights and economy as their ideal.
    Perhaps you should read the justifications the Confederates themselves advanced at the time. You may notice a great deal of nonsense about "the Divinely-inspired order" of "the peculiar institution", and rather a dearth of anything about "sovereignty" or economics.

    But this is beginning to go a bit astray...
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    starkaosstarkaos Member Posts: 11,556 Arc User
    jonsills wrote: »
    starkaos wrote: »
    starswordc wrote: »
    ^,^^This. My public school textbooks in Virginia and North Carolina (not even in the Deep South!) barely mentioned slavery as a cause for the War of Southern Aggression, never mind it being the cause like it was in reality.

    The American Civil War is far more complicated than it just being about slavery. The economy and state rights were also major contributors to that war. Wars are almost always about $ with ideals being used as a means to placate the populace to support the war. The Northern States had emancipation as their ideal while the Southern States had state rights and economy as their ideal.
    Perhaps you should read the justifications the Confederates themselves advanced at the time. You may notice a great deal of nonsense about "the Divinely-inspired order" of "the peculiar institution", and rather a dearth of anything about "sovereignty" or economics.

    But this is beginning to go a bit astray...

    It would be interesting to see how common slavery is for sapient beings. Is it something that every sapient species goes through once they reach a certain level of civilization or is it extremely rare and only limited to the worst sapient species? War might be far too common due to always competing for the same resources.
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    starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,963 Arc User
    edited February 2019
    starkaos wrote: »
    jonsills wrote: »
    starkaos wrote: »
    starswordc wrote: »
    ^,^^This. My public school textbooks in Virginia and North Carolina (not even in the Deep South!) barely mentioned slavery as a cause for the War of Southern Aggression, never mind it being the cause like it was in reality.

    The American Civil War is far more complicated than it just being about slavery. The economy and state rights were also major contributors to that war. Wars are almost always about $ with ideals being used as a means to placate the populace to support the war. The Northern States had emancipation as their ideal while the Southern States had state rights and economy as their ideal.
    Perhaps you should read the justifications the Confederates themselves advanced at the time. You may notice a great deal of nonsense about "the Divinely-inspired order" of "the peculiar institution", and rather a dearth of anything about "sovereignty" or economics.

    But this is beginning to go a bit astray...

    It would be interesting to see how common slavery is for sapient beings. Is it something that every sapient species goes through once they reach a certain level of civilization or is it extremely rare and only limited to the worst sapient species? War might be far too common due to always competing for the same resources.

    Judging by humans, I think the former is more likely. Slavery has existed in one form or another since antiquity, but so has abolitionism: Emperor Cyrus II of Persia is revered in Judaism for freeing the Israelites from their enslavement in Babylon after he conquered it, which was a standard practice under the Achmaenid Empire.

    As far as Star Trek is concerned, on the one hand you have Quark's claim in "The Jem'Hadar" that the Ferengi have never practiced slavery, but on the other hand they're established buy and sell their own women among themselves.
    "Great War! / And I cannot take more! / Great tour! / I keep on marching on / I play the great score / There will be no encore / Great War! / The War to End All Wars"
    — Sabaton, "Great War"
    VZ9ASdg.png

    Check out https://unitedfederationofpla.net/s/
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    brian334brian334 Member Posts: 2,214 Arc User
    edited February 2019
    Evolutionary question: do ants enslave aphids?

    Ants 'farm' several types of insects, and even, in some cases, care for them and keep them safe from other predators. Is this slavery? Or is it domestication, (myrmification?) of other species, as in the relationship between humans and cows?

    On that note, I could totally see raccoons building crawfish ponds. They love them some mud-bugs.
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    jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 10,409 Arc User
    When done to a non-sapient species, we call it "domestication", not "enslavement". Nobody except maybe a few fringe types would talk about the slavery of cattle, for instance.
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    starkaosstarkaos Member Posts: 11,556 Arc User
    jonsills wrote: »
    When done to a non-sapient species, we call it "domestication", not "enslavement". Nobody except maybe a few fringe types would talk about the slavery of cattle, for instance.

    People have domesticated primates which can be debated to be a sapient species. Then there is the joke about cats being the masters of their pet humans.

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    brian334brian334 Member Posts: 2,214 Arc User
    Is relative sapience a factor? Or is it an all-or-nothing issue? (Example: some sapience equates to enslavement, while unmeasurable sapience equals domestication)

    Ants are more or less the intellectual equal of aphids, so from the standpoint of raw intelligence, it would seem a case of enslavement. (Some ants even enslave other ants, sometimes even from the same colony. Honeypot ants, for example, or the infamous Slave-making Ant)

    If Superintelligent Aliens decide humans have potential and show up to begin breeding us for their purposes, ordering our lives, and gaining benefit of us, will we become domesticated? Or enslaved?
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