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When does an algorithm turn alive?

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 Original post by SneftelIt's an important thing to keep in mind (no pun intended). That the mind can't comprehend itself is something that seems trivially true at first, but can lead one to seriously mistake the nature of comprehension. It's analogous to saying that no country can contain a map of itself, or a description of its political process.

I do try to keep this in mind.

Whenever I reach an intersection, in the text, where I cannot say that it's one way or the other, I treat BOTH paths as equally valid.
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 Original post by hplus0603First: how do you define "alive"? If you have a good definition for "alive" then you have the answer to your initial question.

That quesiton was a retorical question. At no point do I try to say what life is and what it's not. If I cannot prove either way, I treat them both with equal validity.
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 Second: do you believe in free will? If so, where does it come from? And how would you formulate an experiment to distinguish free will from a random process? Your notion of "soul" might be a start, but the philosophers over thousands of years have postulated several rather more intricate theories that you probably want to read up on before continuing down this path.

Hmm... As I think about it, I do not really find the concept of free will to be part of this.
However, about those thousand years of theories, I know about most of them. Well no, not most of them - there's as many as there's been people - but the most important ones.
Most of them all start with "I am here in this moment - how did I get to this moment, and what is 'I' anyway?"
This starting point gives you a whole array of really crazy possible scenarios, including seperate realities, higher beings, alternate dimensions, illusionary phenomena and flying spaghetti monsters.

As a contrast, I begin with "evolution happened". This gives a more solid starting point, and makes all alternate realities and "the world is here because I think it is" discussions completely irrelevant.
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Original post by Sneftel
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 Original post by aphydxright. i meant a complete representation

And there's the mistake: assuming that comprehension requires representation. Consider: I comprehend my car's internal combustion engine, despite the fact that I do not know the exact configurations of the atoms which comprise it, or even how many atoms there are in it.

I must say that was a very attractive phrasing. *applause*
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 Original post by neonicI don't know. This whole thing is very confusing and I agree with the authors prognosis that 'something weird' is definately going on around here :).Just throwing this on the table, because I have been thinking this topic over for a number of years also. I was reading in a Popular science magazine talking about teleportation..........

Yup. I have not read that article, but I am familiar with the concept. It is in all a very interesting topic. If you're recreated to 100% accuracy with other atoms - would that be 'you'?

Interesting as it may be, it is a derivative of this whole 'ghost' thing. Going onwards and trying to make something out of teleportation, without having first settled what a 'ghost' really is, is interesting but not relevant.
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 So several things to say here going along with the author... if nr 1 is true and we were created by a higher being... then I don't even know what would happen when they recreated you. You would probably just be the equivilant of dead.If nr 2 was true, then your body would create a ghost itself, since the brain is able to hold a ghost. Now think about this: would that new "ghost" be "you" or would you still be destroyed and some other ghost is running around with your body.Now if nr 3 was true I would imagine the same thing such as nr 2 would happen, but for a different reason.I guess this just brings a new element to the table, when taken into a scenario like this, not only the question "what is life", but the question "what is death"

You summarize the topic correctly. I also did mention the 'if this is so, then what is death?' question in my text, but only as a side comment to number 2 and 3.
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 Original post by Horatius83When my car is not functioning correctly I may say that it is "being stubborn" and perhaps a few other things that I won't repeat. This anthropomorphism is a way for me to cope with the fact that the machine is very complicated and I don't understand it. Perhaps this is all personality, and by extension, "ghost" is, we take what we know of our own emotions, and actions in certain situations, and then project it onto other people or things, then we check their actions against this model and determine how closely it fits.

Sorry, but I must cincerely object. This style of thinking is not evident in all humans, and certainly not within myself! I do never match peoples actions to my own way of thinking, and I also never call my car 'stubborn'. This is because I understand the workings of the car. People who do not understand it, thus superimposes their own view of things upon the car. But this is only true for the people who do not understand.

Your're trying to disprove something with an invalid argument. That way of thinking is not present in all human beings.

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 As for life, this is a tricky question, traditionally the battle lines have been drawn around the subject of whether or not a virus is alive since it depends on a host to reproduce. The problem I see is that if you say viruses aren't truly alive then you can say that all men are dead since they depend on women to reproduce. (I know you're all programmers but trust me, I read it in a book so it must be true) So my guess would be any thing capable of creating a copy of itself (by any means) would be a good candidate for being alive. This seems to preclude sterile animals from being alive, but consider the fact that at the cellular level they're reproducing like crazy, skin cells, bacteria in the intestines, muscles, the whole deal.

Yeah, that section is most correct. I hope you don't thinking you're arguing against me there, coz that would mean I'm a sloppy writer. This section might as well have been written by me.
edit: Oh, except the guess that anything capable of reproducing means it is 'alive'. I do not assume that. In fact, I want to stay wayyyyyyy clear of the term 'alive', coz that is not really part of what I'm trying to say.
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 Original post by HemoGlobenOk, focus on the france thing. It acts like a living entity because it's run by living entities. Doesn't that make more sense than trying to pretend that france itself is a living entity? Your entire thought experiment attempts to grapple the idea of seperating acts like an entity and is an entity, but somehow manages to miss acts like entity because it's run by entity.

Very good, HemoGloben! I was wondering when somebody was going to pick this one up.

It is certainly a possibility. In fact, this is the main reason why I couldn't say that EVEN if the premises for Nr. 2 is correct, even then I couldn't say that ghosts would certainly appear within systems.

I didn't really feel that that side-notion was necessary to put in the text, since hardly anybody would think about it.
But yes it's a point, however I'm not sure what to make of it. I'm having trouble giving examples of complex systems - like France - which are not run by living beings, so I cannot counter the argument. Therefore I simply state that it's a possibility that such systems could have ghosts.
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Original post by Sneftel
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 Original post by HemoGlobenUhh...Isn't a more likely option to the whole internet seemingly alive, france being alive thing the fact that both happen to be in large part run by humans that are alive? I mean, ...meh.

Seems a little weak. Are you saying that things cannot be alive unless they are comprised of parts which are alive? That seems to break down. Carbon and hydrogen atoms can't really be said to be alive. Concurrently, humans display much more capability for adaptation and intelligence than the cells of which they are composed. They can, by some measure of "alive", be said to be MORE alive than those cells: they display traits above those which the cells themselves can "run".

Also, who's this Meh person?

Sorry, but I think you misunderstood his point abit. He merely said it didn't necessarily have to have a ghost to behave like that. I agree. His point does not in any way counter your argument.

edit: LOL! I've gotten rated down because of this thread!! And I didn't even represent a side!! Absolutely hilarious! =D
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 Original post by NQSorry, but I think you misunderstood his point abit. He merely said it didn't necessarily have to have a ghost to behave like that. I agree. His point does not in any way counter your argument.

I know... I was going on his tangent. His implication, though, seems to be that if it doesn't have its own big ghost, it has to have a bunch of smaller ghosts puppeting it. And I don't see any reason to believe that's true.

EDIT: BTW, let's use standard terminology and just call the "ghost theory" dualism.
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When you know your self and understand, then you can develop such AI. Otherwise it just fruitless, it may emulate but never be it no matter how automated it is.

So you first you must understand yourself, your inner working, and your "I am" identity then you can talk about this. Other wise like someone here said this "REDUNDANT"!
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 Original post by busymeWhen you know your self and understand, then you can develop such AI. Otherwise it just fruitless, it may emulate but never be it no matter how automated it is.So you first you must understand yourself, your inner working, and your "I am" identity then you can talk about this. Other wise like someone here said this "REDUNDANT"!

:) Nobody's trying to create it. This is meant as a treat for people who find it fun and interesting to think about these things. If you do not find it fun and/or interesting then you are free to not participate.
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 Original post by busymeWhen you know your self and understand, then you can develop such AI. Otherwise it just fruitless, it may emulate but never be it no matter how automated it is.

Despite our lack of knowledge regarding how humans navigate through mazes, we nonetheless have developed algorithms to allow computers to navigate through mazes. Understanding the inner workings of a process is a requirement for simulating it, not for emulating it.
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 So you first you must understand yourself, your inner working, and your "I am" identity then you can talk about this. Other wise like someone here said this "REDUNDANT"!

I think you guys need to look up 'redundant' in a dictionary.
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Well said, Sneftel.
As a comment, I chose to not refer to highly technical terms such as 'dualism' since I thought that would make people feel negatively about the text. Refering to fun things like movies and completely new terms instead, i hoped, would decrease the negative-and-boring factor.
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I dunno. As an academic, I prefer precise and well-defined jargon to "fun" terms, since it isn't subject to unraveling when you want to go deeper. Now, introducing dualism--in particular, the uneasy standoff between emergentism and biological naturalism--in the context of Blade Runner is a great idea. But I don't think you should worry about scaring people off with the jargon. Just ease them in with the pop culture references, and hit them with the jargon once they're all limbered up.
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Ahh... very good point.
(rating++)
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Well first off, I'm glad that the actual of intent of my statements, and their implications was noticed.
Sneftel
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 Seems a little weak. Are you saying that things cannot be alive unless they are comprised of parts which are alive? That seems to break down. Carbon and hydrogen atoms can't really be said to be alive. Concurrently, humans display much more capability for adaptation and intelligence than the cells of which they are composed. They can, by some measure of "alive", be said to be MORE alive than those cells: they display traits above those which the cells themselves can "run".

Touche I suppose. Though my statement was really only intended to be an occum's razor of sorts.

Then again, we are arguing when systems become humanistic, so trying to deduce when humans become humanistic is probably a pretty good place to start.

NQ
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 I'm having trouble giving examples of complex systems - like France - which are not run by living beings, so I cannot counter the argument.

I'd say, that in large part, you're having trouble because there aren't any. Well, outside of humans themselves, which brings us back to arguing about when humans become humanistic.
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 Despite our lack of knowledge regarding how humans navigate through mazes...

To be fair, humans aren't really competent at navigating mazes. We're a tad to relative, a tad too stuck in the here and now.

Which is why I'd say we have so much trouble emulating, ourselves. We've somehow evolved with such a here, now mentality, but are somehow capable of there, then thought. Which is quite a large contradiction, but I've come to think of it as quite accurate. All of our senses are good at relative sensing rather than absolute sensing. Hotter, colder, softer, louder, harder, faster, slower. The only sense mildly absolute is sight, and even that is quite shoddy with absolutes.

But I digress.
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 Original post by HemoGlobenWhich is why I'd say we have so much trouble emulating, ourselves. We've somehow evolved with such a here, now mentality, but are somehow capable of there, then thought. Which is quite a large contradiction, but I've come to think of it as quite accurate. All of our senses are good at relative sensing rather than absolute sensing. Hotter, colder, softer, louder, harder, faster, slower. The only sense mildly absolute is sight, and even that is quite shoddy with absolutes.

Hm... seems like two separate ideas here (correct me if I'm wrong), both interesting. As for the first one, I'd argue that "here, now" versus "there, then" is not necessarily a contradiction. It may well be that we humans are permanently stuck in the hypothetical and the subjunctive, and that those hypotheticals which happen to be generated directly by our experience simply get a VIP pass of sorts to our frontal lobe. Recent research on mirror neurons, while preliminary and limited, lends support to the idea that we comprehend a real apple in the same way as we comprehend an imaginary apple that we want to obtain.

The second thing is interesting because it seems to apply on a number of levels. Humans are no good at perceiving absolute sound volume, light intensity, temperature, etc... we are informed only by recent changes in sensation. But at higher levels the same thing seems to hold. It's something that marketers have known for a long time: If you advertise something as $29 marked down to$19, it'll be more attractive than simply selling it for \$19 to begin with. It may be a reflection of our role as social animals that we are so keenly influenced by norms and perceived deviations from them. The question then, of course, is whether that's an innate element of sentience, or merely an oddity of our particular situation.
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 I meant to play on the recursive nature of self-representation. if you were to fully describe the process by which sapience occurs, you'd have to describe the understanding of sapience, and so on...

Ahhhh, got it. I misunderstood.
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Original post by NQ
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 Original post by Horatius83When my car is not functioning correctly I may say that it is "being stubborn" and perhaps a few other things that I won't repeat. This anthropomorphism is a way for me to cope with the fact that the machine is very complicated and I don't understand it. (...)

Sorry, but I must cincerely object. This style of thinking is not evident in all humans, and certainly not within myself! I do never match peoples actions to my own way of thinking, and I also never call my car 'stubborn'. This is because I understand the workings of the car. People who do not understand it, thus superimposes their own view of things upon the car. (...)

huh?

Horatius83 says:
-I antropomorphize my car because I don't understand it
NQ says:
-I don't antropomorphize my car because I understand it
These aren't conflicting at all... and then NQ goes on with:
-...but people who don't understand it superimpose their own view of things upon the car.

which could be by antropomorphizing it. (a15g if I was a copy-paste less person :P )
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Well, this my belief, make what you want of it.

Going back to the thought experiment of copying yourself atom by atom - without killing yourself (the original). You are in effect creating two "you"'s both with the belief they have a soul, are alive, and are "you". For me this really breaks down what humanity really is - a clever animal with a huge brain full of beliefs, all of which are nothing but inter-connected neurons. My answer to the question of this topic is, we are alive, but we are just a self-replicating algorithm of amino-acids so we are no more alive (more advanced though) than an ant or a piece of dust. The only difference is a piece of dust will never replicate and improve itself into something as advanced as us. This ghost or ego we believe we have is an evolved solution to the world, as with emotions, humans with more of this "ghost" would have survived more. Similarly the belief in God and afterlife has an advantage over the obvious truth we will be nothing in 100 years.

So to sum up my belief, we are the product of a genetic algorithm, the best solution so far to earth.

Please feel free to criticize, I would love to be proved wrong.
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If consciousness was only something we believed we had... then what, exactly, would be doing the believing?
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 Original post by Anonymous PosterWell, this my belief, make what you want of it.Going back to the thought experiment of copying yourself atom by atom - without killing yourself (the original). You are in effect creating two "you"'s both with the belief they have a soul, are alive, and are "you". For me this really breaks down what humanity really is - a clever animal with a huge brain full of beliefs, all of which are nothing but inter-connected neurons. My answer to the question of this topic is, we are alive, but we are just a self-replicating algorithm of amino-acids so we are no more alive (more advanced though) than an ant or a piece of dust. The only difference is a piece of dust will never replicate and improve itself into something as advanced as us. This ghost or ego we believe we have is an evolved solution to the world, as with emotions, humans with more of this "ghost" would have survived more. Similarly the belief in God and afterlife has an advantage over the obvious truth we will be nothing in 100 years.So to sum up my belief, we are the product of a genetic algorithm, the best solution so far to earth.Please feel free to criticize, I would love to be proved wrong.

I'm not going to try to prove you wrong, because, objetively, what you say is irrefutable.

But... You gotta agree with me that, many times, things are not just what they seem to be. And most of the time we discover we are wrong about our cientific conception of the universe, and we are pushed to evolve our understanding.

You say a piece of dust doesn't has the chance to evolve into something like us, but we were also just star-dust once. Even now, most of the matter that composes our bodies belonged to the stars.

Now I ask to you, if the rests of the dead stars can arrange themselves into something like us, why cannot us become someday into something "more" than what we are today?

If the atoms can give birth to tought, why can't the tought give birth to soul?

Can you say 100% sure to me, what tought is? Or how it works? Not yet. So there you have, we have yet lots of things to learn about life, and ultimately, death.
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 Original post by SneftelIf consciousness was only something we believed we had... then what, exactly, would be doing the believing?

In your statement it seems, conciousness is a neccassary condition for an ability to hold beliefs. Or,If an entity is not conscious then it can hold no beliefs. Before I give a response, is the converse as well true?
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 Original post by Anonymous PosterWell, this my belief, make what you want of it.Going back to the thought experiment of copying yourself atom by atom - without killing yourself (the original). You are in effect creating two "you"'s both with the belief they have a soul, are alive, and are "you". For me this really breaks down what humanity really is - a clever animal with a huge brain full of beliefs, all of which are nothing but inter-connected neurons. My answer to the question of this topic is, we are alive, but we are just a self-replicating algorithm of amino-acids so we are no more alive (more advanced though) than an ant or a piece of dust. The only difference is a piece of dust will never replicate and improve itself into something as advanced as us. This ghost or ego we believe we have is an evolved solution to the world, as with emotions, humans with more of this "ghost" would have survived more. Similarly the belief in God and afterlife has an advantage over the obvious truth we will be nothing in 100 years.So to sum up my belief, we are the product of a genetic algorithm, the best solution so far to earth.Please feel free to criticize, I would love to be proved wrong.

There is no need to prove you wrong, what you have is theory. The burden of proof lies on you. That is, we have no means beyond conjecture on what it means to make an "atom by atom copy" of an individual and what sameness is in such an enviroment. You cannot answer for me: Are all subatomic particles truly the same? Yes? Then beyond arrangement we are no different, you and I. We are entirely indistinguishable at small enough scales. Why, are we even seperable? If not then what is an atom? People bringing in particle physics when discussing AI are only making a mess for themselves. Learn windmills before airtracks is what I say.

NQ, I would have, when does an algorithim become self aware? No one algorithim can ever be alive or even self aware. But I do assume that a series of algorithims over a set of actions in which there exist an infinite amount of combinations might at least become self aware though.
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Dust does not have the chance to evolve into life because it lacks the necessary reactions (lighting + CO2 + NH3 + CH4 + H2O -> Amino acids :|), while stars and planets, it seems, do.

I did not mean to bring particle physics into this, an exact copy of you is still you, your soul would not be magically linked to your copy, you would be able to live seperate lives with the same initial memories.

I think language is the vital part of consciousness that we think of as this soul that animals do not have (at least on the same level we do). I also believe the brains mechanism for learning is the explaination for all beliefs in God, Miracles, Ghosts. But saying this leaves the possibility open that I am entirely wrong.

owl - "If the rests of the dead stars can arrange themselves into something like us, why cannot us become someday into something "more" than what we are today?"

Of course we can, and will. We have reached a stage where our evolved learning process is capable of amazing things. God has been an easy answer to things throughout history. Saying humans have a special soul to me is the same as saying there has been intelligent design or that the earth is the center of the universe.
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