Search This Blog

Friday, April 6, 2012

Prometheus, Intelligence, and little dogs...

Brains of wild pig, dolphin, human (left to right)
So what do our brains tell us about our intelligence?  And what does our intelligence tell us about finding and having discourse with ET's that are smarter than us?

Here are some interesting facts:

- Human brain structure is somewhat unique.  Mammals such as the sperm whale have much larger brains but the neuron interconnection internally are not as sophisticated as a human - at least how we measure things.

- Children with autism have more neurons in there heads than those without.

- Your brain is born with as many neurons as it will ever have (roughly).   As you grow your brain makes connections between neurons.  A typical brain has more than 100 billion neurons.  Over you lifetime each brain cell will make some 15,000 or so connection to other brain cells based on input from your environment.

So to a large degree your brain is a product of genetics and your environment.  It seems as if its given a fixed limit to its "intellectual horsepower" before your birth.

So in our world we humans are at the top of the "intelligence" food chain.

What does that tell us about ET's and communications with them?

Well, let's turn it around.  I have a small dog named "R2."  Let's imagine that we are "R2" and that the ET's are us.  (From the image above R2's brain is quite a bit smaller than the pig brain.)

Now R2 is very dog like - he knows his name and a few other words: truck, out, toy.  He's good on observation and an effective watch dog.  He's neat, clean and keeps himself well groomed and in our house he is a good dog citizen.

But in terms of R2's perception of "higher intelligence" things get a little more interesting.

R2 gets "excited" when presented with new situations.  For example, we are moving a stairway in our house and he had a very hard time with the new stairs.  I think this was because the stairs were "open" at first so you could "see through" to the other side.  After we put the backing on the stairs R2 learned them.

So in R2's world stairs are something that, while you can use them, are complex.  I do not think R2 capable of creating stairs, or even piling things up to get onto, say, the table.  If there is a way to do this without him changing his environment he might figure it out, e.g., climbing on the table via a chair.

With other dogs I've found things like "doggy doors" have the same effect.  Dogs struggle to grasp the concept  - some for quite a while and some never really get it.

Now we, the "higher intelligence," have created these technologies.

Perhaps like ET's whipping up "worm hole travel" in movies like Contact.

Now relative to R2 travel up the "open stairs" is a lot in the conceptual sense like aliens presenting humans with something like worm holes in space.  Like Prometheus we give the dogs "stairs" and "doggy doors."  And to some extent they can use them.

But they do not understand them.  I would argue R2 is overwhelmed by the concept of leaving the ground - particular under his own power, i.e., waking up the open stairs.  He can see himself elevating into the air but he is frightened because he does not understand why.

In fact, I would argue, dogs will never understand how to make stairs or a doggy door.

So in effect these represent an "alien technology" beyond their grasp.

Certainly they can communicate with us to a limited degree.  But that's it.

In terms of environment dogs live in exactly the same one, e.g., the Wolf household, as we do.  But they do not, for example, decorate the house (at least not with objects they collect), they don't create art, nor music...

So obviously their connection to the house is different than ours.

And if all the humans in the world died off the dogs would revert to semi-wild in as much time as it took them to realize that there were no humans to feed them.

We can easily understand things like dog psychology, dominance, and so on.  We can also interact with dogs to a large degree - but we don't read them bedtime stories.

So now imagine we as humans are presented with some ET that represents the same leap from dog to man in terms of brain power.

Our ability to understand them would be about the same as our dog's ability to understand us.  Certainly the dog might know if your upset, angry, happy, and so on.  It could understand some basic commands and activities, e.g., get into the truck.  But beyond that it knows nothing of our world, environment or lives.

Nor can it because it lacks the "intelligence horsepower" to do so.

This is, how I imagine, we would seem to aliens.

Our perception would be diminished compared to theirs.

Our ability to process information would be greatly diminished compared to theirs.

Our ability to "fit" into an environment suited for them might be beyond our ability to grasp.

Like Prometheus we might bring "intelligence" to the dog world (or the fox world) by breeding or genetic engineering but the results might take a long time - if every - to see.

This is why I think things like SETI are stupid.

Like the dog when his owner dies who still returns to the recliner where they both used to sit all we are doing with things like SETI is repeating what we know to do - blasting signals into space and/or listening with giant antenna.

We are not doing anything that shows we are advancing to something new and worthy of notice.

So really SETI is just the anthromorphication of previous human behavior.

Our brain structure limits what we can do in terms of thought just as the dog brain limits R2.

However, we poses the ability to augment our bodies and presumably our own intelligence.

So what if we built a giant AI of some sort to think for us?

I think this is interesting territory.  If its just a reflection of us then it would be of no use for it would be like us.  On the other hand, if we somehow built one that was truly a quantum leap ahead of us it might simply ignore us a "noise" in its environment.

To build one that was both more sophisticated than us as well as able to "help us" in some way I think requires more knowledge than we have...

So in some sense, like the dog, we are chained to earth by our God-given biological traits.

Instead I think we are much better off understanding ourselves and our consciousness.  Not just writing papers and drawing simplistic maps of neurons but actually trying to grasp the true  underpinnings of what intelligence and consciousness are.

No comments:

Post a Comment