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  1. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    15 Jun '15 14:29
    http://phys.org/news/2015-06-self-awareness-unique-mankind.html

    Another notch against the so-called uniqueness of mankind over the animal world.
  2. 15 Jun '15 15:51 / 14 edits
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    http://phys.org/news/2015-06-self-awareness-unique-mankind.html

    Another notch against the so-called uniqueness of mankind over the animal world.
    While I certainly wouldn't rule out any non-human animals having what we call "self awareness" and while I would like to believe the conclusion said by the link is rational, I an afraid don't see how it could be rational. The link says:

    "The study's key insight is that those animals capable of simulating their future actions must be able to distinguish between their imagined actions and those that are actually experienced".

    While I don't have any reason to doubt that they showed this above, how does that equate with what we call "self awareness"? Surely we mean something more by "self awareness" than merely distinguish between our imagined actions and those that we actually experienced?

    I don't know if most people here would agree with me on this but, personally, when I talk about "self awareness" I mean a combinations of these two things;



    1, introspective analysis: -an ability to analyze the thoughts you had a few moments ago (not just merely 'distinguish' between those thoughts and other types of experiences ).

    2, have what I have personally named "directed thought" (a term I personally invented recently which I think may be useful in the context of AI ) which I define as the ability to take a conclusion from the analyze in 1 above and use it to make a 'choice' of what to think of next by letting that conclusion 'direct' your thoughts in a 'different direction' i.e. start make you think about some other subject matter other than the one you would have automatically thought of or make you think in a different way other than the way you would have automatically thought of from if you didn't act on that conclusion from that analyze from 1.



    For example, if you have been thinking for some time about how to climb over a barrier and then you analysis of your thoughts (i.e. from 1, above ) gives you the conclusion that you have been thinking about this problem for a 'long' time without any 'success' thus indicating to you a relatively 'high' level of futility of thinking how to climb over the barrier in particular, you may then 'choose' to think of something different such as consider ways of getting over the barrier other than over it in particular (such as tunneling under or smashing straight through it or going around it etc ) by letting that conclusion so 'redirect' your next thoughts in a 'different direction'.

    The link didn't say anything to make me think the research showed that any non-human animals have either 1 or 2 above. Not that this failure of the link implies that no non-human has 1 or 2 above, nor does it make me think it is unlikely that any non-human has 1 or 2 above in particular; only merely that it has yet to be shown assuming such a thing can be shown.


    What do the rest of you think of my above thinking on this?
    esp regarding 1 and 2 above?
    How many of you would say 1 and 2 above accurately represents what you personally mean by "self awareness" when you say it?
    (these questions are relevant to the research I am currently doing )
  3. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    15 Jun '15 17:42
    Originally posted by humy
    While I certainly wouldn't rule out any non-human animals having what we call "self awareness" and while I would like to believe the conclusion said by the link is rational, I an afraid don't see how it could be rational. The link says:

    "The study's key insight is that those animals capable of simulating their future actions must be able to distinguish betwe ...[text shortened]... wareness" when you say it?
    (these questions are relevant to the research I am currently doing )
    I don't think they would define animal self awareness in those two way, since they both imply a higher level of intelligence than self directed action would imply.

    The ability to analyze one's own thoughts is surely a much higher level of consciousness than just deciding on which branch to jump to if you were a rodent climbing a tree.

    I would say self awareness could be attributed to chipmunks for instance, for the ability to hide food in dozens of places on the floor of a forest and in burrows in trees and remember where everyone was, seems to me to indicate a degree of intelligence that would require self awareness, I don't think that would come out of pure instinctive behavior.

    I don't think anyone would suggest Dolphins could not have both the attributes you suggest. I think they are just as self aware as any human, maybe more than most.

    There are elephants that can paint, sure, trained and so forth but one painted a really good likeness of an elephant and I don't see how that could happen by chance without the attribute of self-awareness.

    There are FMRI recently done on dogs, trained to ignore the terrible noise of those MRI machines, also they put ear plugs and padding on the ears to help with that.

    They put the dog through its paces by just putting a Q tip near its nose, one with a bit of sweat from a stranger and the other with a bit of sweat from its owner.

    They found the brain parts activated by the stranger's sweat was the area in the brain associated with analysis of smell, right behind the nasal cavity in their brain.

    They then put the Q tip with its owners sweat in its nose and now the brain lit up in the area we associate with pleasure, in a completely different part of its brain.

    It proves the dog recognizes its owner and gets some pleasure from the presence of the owner. I think that also is a sign of self-awareness.

    Just saw that experiment on 60 minutes yesterday.
  4. 15 Jun '15 18:08 / 6 edits
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    I don't think they would define animal self awareness in those two way, since they both imply a higher level of intelligence than self directed action would imply.

    The ability to analyze one's own thoughts is surely a much higher level of consciousness than just deciding on which branch to jump to if you were a rodent climbing a tree.

    I would say sel ...[text shortened]... ink that also is a sign of self-awareness.

    Just saw that experiment on 60 minutes yesterday.
    I think what you naturally mean by "self awareness" is not what I naturally mean by it. What you refer as "self awareness" there, I would more generically categorize as "extremely intelligent" which doesn't mean quite the same thing to me.
    I certainly don't doubt for a moment that dolphins, whales and elephants have the ability to plan and theorize and think ahead and are what I (and you ) would personally call "extremely intelligent"! But I can actually conceive the possibility of an animal having overall more intelligence than us but still without necessarily having what I would personally mean by "self awareness" despite that!
    But I have no idea of how to rationally asses the probability of the existence of any non-human animal having what I would mean by "self-awareness". How could the existence of what I would mean by "self-awareness" in a non-human animal be tested? I think this would be extremely difficult but I bet there is an ingenious complex way that I have yet to devise (and probably never do so ).
  5. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    16 Jun '15 11:08
    Originally posted by humy
    I think what you naturally mean by "self awareness" is not what I naturally mean by it. What you refer as "self awareness" there, I would more generically categorize as "extremely intelligent" which doesn't mean quite the same thing to me.
    I certainly don't doubt for a moment that dolphins, whales and elephants have the ability to plan and theorize and think ...[text shortened]... t I bet there is an ingenious complex way that I have yet to devise (and probably never do so ).
    Well, one test is the mirror test, do they recognize themselves in a mirror. Not many animals do.
  6. 16 Jun '15 11:27
    Humans have self-awareness, as far as we know. Because we define 'self-awareness as 'that kind of self-awareness that we have'.

    So when we discuss self-awareness among animals, we just compare their self-awareness with ours, nothing more.

    The mirror test is one example of a test of self-awareness. Humans know what a mirror is (go figure, we invented it).

    I say that animals have self-awareness, of course, some less some more. Perhaps some are even more aware of their own self than humans - we simply cannot know.

    When we have a full definition of self-awareness, not relating to the human self-awareness, then this question is worth discussing. Not before.
  7. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    16 Jun '15 11:55
    Originally posted by FabianFnas
    Humans have self-awareness, as far as we know. Because we define 'self-awareness as 'that kind of self-awareness that we have'.

    So when we discuss self-awareness among animals, we just compare their self-awareness with ours, nothing more.

    The mirror test is one example of a test of self-awareness. Humans know what a mirror is (go figure, we invented ...[text shortened]... s, not relating to the human self-awareness, then this question is worth discussing. Not before.
    Actually, we didn't really 'invent' mirrors. When you look at still water you can see some of your reflection there so that had to be the inspiration for the mirror, and early ones were just polished metal so that had to have been noticed 4000 years ago or more, as soon as they developed brass, I'm sure they knew how to polish it to a sheen. There are also minerals that are highly reflective coming right out of the ground, like Galena crystals, Iron Pyrites and sulfur pyrites and so forth. We didn't so much invent mirrors rather just improving on a known natural effect.
  8. 16 Jun '15 12:20
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Actually, we didn't really 'invent' mirrors. When you look at still water you can see some of your reflection there so that had to be the inspiration for the mirror, and early ones were just polished metal so that had to have been noticed 4000 years ago or more, as soon as they developed brass, I'm sure they knew how to polish it to a sheen. There are also ...[text shortened]... and so forth. We didn't so much invent mirrors rather just improving on a known natural effect.
    You're right, we didn't invent the mirror effect.

    But the rest you agree with?
  9. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    16 Jun '15 16:38
    Originally posted by FabianFnas
    You're right, we didn't invent the mirror effect.

    But the rest you agree with?
    Our self-awareness comes with language skills and not many animals have that. Dolphins most likely, elephants? There is a big gap between communications and language. Communication: SQQUUEEK, enemy near, for instance but that is about it, Here be food. No real language.
  10. 16 Jun '15 18:09
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Our self-awareness comes with language skills and not many animals have that. Dolphins most likely, elephants? There is a big gap between communications and language. Communication: SQQUUEEK, enemy near, for instance but that is about it, Here be food. No real language.
    Exactly. No animals have the same self awareness as humans.

    I asked my dog once if he was intelligent? He didn't understand the question so I guess he wasn't intelligent.
    He just barked a few times and wagged his tail. I didn't understand that either. What does that say about me?
  11. 16 Jun '15 18:37 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    http://phys.org/news/2015-06-self-awareness-unique-mankind.html

    Another notch against the so-called uniqueness of mankind over the animal world.
    The title is a bit misleading. Self-awareness has been observed in many different animals, long ago. It's simply the ability to recognise that you are a different individual from those around you. What they're doing here is suggesting that the evolutionary origins of autonoetic consciousness (i.e. the human ability to imagine ourselves in different situations in the past, present and future, and our ability to analyse our own thoughts), lies in the ability to do internal and external foraging (which requires a very basic sense of self).

    Well, that was such a simplification I'm almost ashamed of myself. Here, read it for yourselves:

    http://www.currentzoology.org/temp/%7BBC7649F7-42E2-480D-9B47-95FB8E4646A0%7D.pdf


    The aim of the present work has to been to explore the relationship between external foraging and internal foraging, and the potential consequences of the latter for understanding the evolution of autonoetic consciousness or self-awareness. Notably, we have arrived at something like a self, the p-self, which is not derived from many of the elegant and rich accounts of consciousness (e.g., Metzinger, 2004; Markowitsch and Staniloiu, 2011; Panksepp, 1998). Rather, the p-self solves a particular kind of problem created by cognitive systems capable of internal foraging, and specifically embodied prospective foraging.
  12. 16 Jun '15 19:10 / 4 edits
    Originally posted by FabianFnas

    I asked my dog once if he was intelligent
    If he answered back "yes" then he may be intelligent although he may be an arrogant dog in which case you should put him down a peg.
    If he answered back "no" then he still may be intelligent but he may be being far too modest in which case you should tell him he is a lot smarter than he thinks.
    Well, that's my personal opinion anyway.
  13. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    16 Jun '15 19:17 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by humy
    If he answered back "yes" then he may be intelligent although he may be an arrogant dog.
    If he answered back "no" then he still may be intelligent but he may be being far too modest.
    Did anyone see the Anderson Cooper piece on 60 minutes last Sunday?

    It was a piece on what is arguably the smartest dog in the world, a border collie named Chaser:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-smartest-dog-in-the-world/

    It recognizes 1000 different objects and responding to verbal command to pick a particular toy up, and knows the difference between nouns and verbs.

    I don't think I could remember 1000 different objects