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Self-awareness a necessity?

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Check this out: Good bird Postulate 1: The use of tools (when "knowledge" is not inherited) is abstract thinking including the thinker. Postulate 2: Self-awareness is a necessity for abstract thought including the thinker.

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OK. That was truely amazing!

However, one has to question how many times the bird saw this similar contraption?

Was the bird shown the answer through conditioning by the scientists running the experiment?

Was the Bird ''led'' to finding the answers to it''s problem?

All these questions are related slightly but are completely different.

If the scientists snared a wild bird, deprived him of food and then placed food in the bucket as the bait to witness his response and this bird did this on the first attempt(!), I''d REALLY be impressed. Not to play this video down any - it''s very impressive and blows the whole "primates are the only animals that use tools" theory right out the window and into the loo.

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as far as i''m aware the scientists originally put two of the birds together and gave them a straight piece of wire and one with a hook... one of the birds took the hooked wire and was successful with it... after much faffing about, the second bird fashioned its own hook...

apparently, the bird then proceeded to make the hook nine times out of ten, though i don''t know whether it tried using the straight bit of wire first on each try before eventually turning it into a hook...

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That''s a great link!

"Postulate 1: The use of tools (when "knowledge" is not inherited) is abstract thinking including the thinker."

Not necessarily, the animal may have just learnt to exploit accidental occurences. Indeed, I suspect this is more likely to be the case.

"Postulate 2: Self-awareness is a necessity for abstract thought including the thinker."

Why do you think this?




ai-junkie.com

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quote:

"Postulate 2: Self-awareness is a necessity for abstract thought including the thinker."

Why do you think this?



In regard to the movie i will define abstract thought as a simulated cause/effect over time (ie bending the wire to assist in the execution of a future plan). When the simulation involves the thinking object, some recognition of self must exist.
I highly doubt this recognition reaches anything close to human levels though.

quote:

Not necessarily, the animal may have just learnt to exploit accidental occurences. Indeed, I suspect this is more likely to be the case.



Of course the animal may simply have learnt through trial and error. If this is the case then nothing of interest can be concluded.
If the actions of the bird is a result of a simulation as bescribed above, then i believe some degree of self-awareness must be present.

Assume that a trainer has shown the bird how a bend wire might fetch food from the container. For the bird to copy the trainers actions it needs some form of simulation involving the bird itself (replacing "trainer" with "self" and "hand" with "beak" for instance).


[edited by - newdeal on August 15, 2002 5:54:08 PM]

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What is implied by self-awareness? All animals at least have a natural instinct to protect themselves. So what are we speaking in degrees of?

I don't think the bird thinks to itself, "I gotta be me" or "Why me?"

The bird does think, "I want that food, I must make a hook to get it, because picking at the ground and stealing doesn't work here."

How different is this from a robin that thinks, "I want a worm, so I must walk around the yard with my head stuck in the air, tilt my head sideways, look down and yank the worm out of the ground."

Yes, the behavior is more developed in the crow, but again, what is implied by a greater sense of self-awareness based on more complex problem solving?

EDIT: I just read the above post. What about a parrot that imitates a voice and gets a reward for it? Would there be any self-replacement involved there? Is the distinction that the crow actually made use of what it was taught by another to get food?

[edited by - Waverider on August 15, 2002 2:59:31 PM]

[edited by - Waverider on August 15, 2002 2:59:53 PM]

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quote:

How different is this from a robin that thinks, "I want a worm, so I must walk around the yard with my head stuck in the air, tilt my head sideways, look down and yank the worm out of the ground."



It is different because that is the normal behaviour of a robin. Take a robin and put in in a closed environment without other robins and it will still pick the ground for worms. Its inherited behaviour, or instincts if you like.

However, using a hook as an extension of oneself requires both the ability to imagine (what i would call abstract thinking), and including one self in the imagination (self-awareness in one form or another).
To use a hook could be an instinct, but since few crows use hooks we can pretty much rule that out.

quote:

I just read the above post. What about a parrot that imitates a voice and gets a reward for it? Would there be any self-replacement involved there? Is the distinction that the crow actually made use of what it was taught by another to get food?



If the parrot saw a human recieve food when imitating a voice and the parrot then started imitating voices in the hope of getting food it would be similar.


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quote:
Original post by NewDeal
However, using a hook as an extension of oneself requires both the ability to imagine (what i would call abstract thinking), and including one self in the imagination (self-awareness in one form or another).
To use a hook could be an instinct, but since few crows use hooks we can pretty much rule that out.



If reinforcement learning has taught us anything it is that only very simple cognitive systems are required to learn mappings between actions and rewards. This is learning. Many creatures learn by mimickry... indeed, humans learn much of their early language skills by mimickry... and many of their social skills too! It doesn''t seem necessary to posit a sense of self in order to posit the ability to mimick... and if a creature can mimick, it can learn.

quote:
Original post by NewDeal
If the parrot saw a human recieve food when imitating a voice and the parrot then started imitating voices in the hope of getting food it would be similar.



... and this reinforces my point.

Now, if you want to consider something REALLY impressive... consider the Orang-Utan that was often locked in a zoo cage. It watched it''s zoo keepers unlock it''s door on a daily basis and lock it again. One day it managed to get hold of a short piece of wire. Over some period of time it fashioned the wire into a crude key. It kept the key hidden from the keepers. Before it had the opportunity to escape, the Orang-Utan went to another zoo for a breeding program. It returned two years later! At the first opportunity it got after returning it retrieved its ''key'', successfully unlocked its cage and escaped. The Orang-Utan was later re-captured and it was kept under surveillance. When it was given another piece of wire it started the behaviour again, which is how its keepers found out how it had done it in the first place!

Sound incredible? This is a true story reported in a very reputable scientific publication, so I tend to believe it. Clearly the Orang-Utan displayed high level planning abilities, long term memory, abstract thinking abilities and even deceit (hiding the key from the keepers, knowing it was wrong to have it)! These are all abilities that many people think only humans have! Had it forged itself a fake ID, maybe it might have made a successful escape!

Cheers,

Timkin

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It was several years ago that I saw it, but I should be able to track down the reference...

EDIT: Okay, I can't seem to find the reference online, however, I'm fairly sure it will still be in our department library. Give me a day or two and I should be able to track down the particular article.

Cheers,

Timkin

[edited by - Timkin on August 18, 2002 9:40:07 PM]

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I read a review in a local paper this experiment has become very famous a breakthrough and rethink of old misbelieaves about animals.
Paper The Times of India
am from India.
Seems that this news had gone through continents!


Saurabh R. Torne
Animator+Web Eng.+Developer

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