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Free Talk Live => The Polling Pit => Topic started by: ladyattis on February 15, 2007, 05:12:51 PM

Title: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: ladyattis on February 15, 2007, 05:12:51 PM
Discuss!
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: cerpntaxt on February 15, 2007, 06:08:35 PM
If it passes a Turing test that I administer...
That's gonna be really really hard. But I'd consider it human if it had emotions and consciousness and morality and shit...
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: voodoo on February 15, 2007, 06:14:49 PM
No.  I'd call it whatever it asked to be called.

I don't even qualify with emotions or morality.  If it claims to be conscious (and this will happen faster than we can imagine) I'm going to have a hard time ignoring it.
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: cerpntaxt on February 15, 2007, 06:18:33 PM
If it can convince me not to destroy it...
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: voodoo on February 15, 2007, 06:20:18 PM
I'm just glad I'm not named Sarah Conner.   :lol:
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: ladyattis on February 15, 2007, 06:22:22 PM
You have to understand that the definition of person as found in philosophy basically follows this snippnet, "a self-guided rational agent." So that means a person is just someone who can think , and possibly act, on what s/he thinks.

I think it's funny how people will vote no only because they attribute the concept of personhood only to a small species of mammals called Homo Sapien Sapien. Basically it's species-ism.


-- Bridget
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: voodoo on February 15, 2007, 06:26:54 PM
My dog is self guided and rational (you didn't qualify degree), but she's definitely not a person. 

Well, maybe an extremely retarded person.

Nah.  Not a person.
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: Timothy on February 15, 2007, 06:27:09 PM
I say no, on the grounds that the rationality within the machines would essentially be a "photo copy" of sorts regarding the human psyche. In other words, the machines would only be duplicating or reproducing the feelings of humans, and with every duplication, the intent and reality would become blurred, so-to-speak.
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: ladyattis on February 15, 2007, 06:28:32 PM
My dog is self guided and rational (you didn't qualify degree), but she's definitely not a person.
Dogs are not rational, they're instinctual.

Quote
Well, maybe an extremely retarded person.

Nah.  Not a person.
Right...Not.
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: voodoo on February 15, 2007, 06:29:35 PM
So, is an extremely retarded homo sapien a person?
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: ladyattis on February 15, 2007, 06:29:53 PM
I say no, on the grounds that the rationality within the machines would essentially be a "photo copy" of sorts regarding the human psyche. In other words, the machines would only be duplicating or reproducing the feelings of humans, and with every duplication, the intent and reality would become blurred, so-to-speak.

That implies everyone born after the first humans are not persons either since they mimiced their forebearers. That doesn't follow. Also it implies a robot with such means to reason would not have free will, which would not be possible if we were mimicking the substrate of the human brain to allow for a synthetic mind to exist. So it's still a person. QED.

-- Bridget
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: ladyattis on February 15, 2007, 06:30:05 PM
So, is an extremely retarded homo sapien a person?

Yes.
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: Timothy on February 15, 2007, 06:31:25 PM
So, is an extremely retarded homo sapien a person?

I think in the purest sense, yes. However, their capacity for learning will undoubtedly be different than that of the "normal"* general population.

This does not suggest that "retarded" individuals aren't human; they're just limited in certain aspects of the mind or body.

*There is no definite definition of "normal", as "normal" is purely a subjective term.
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: Brent on February 15, 2007, 06:36:03 PM
I'd call it a person, but when the robot hoardes are sweeping across the country side, I won't likely feel bad about setting off the giant Popular Mechanics build-it-yourself EMP bomb I'll have stored in my basement by then.  Actually, it would probably work better if it were elevated.  Maybe I should see if PM has any plans for building your own ballistic missles.  Hmm.
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: bonerjoe on February 15, 2007, 06:39:27 PM
Did anyone ever watch the Matrix and the cartoon backstory thingees? Yeah.
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: markuzick on February 15, 2007, 06:41:07 PM
Quote
If it passes a Turing test that I administer...
That's gonna be really really hard. But I'd consider it human if it had

Can it be proven that thinking requires consciousness? ( I don't know )

If it's programed to have "emotions and consciousness and morality and shit..." once it passes the Turing test, are there any ways to know if it is really experiencing consciousness as we do, or if it's only an extremely good simulation.( I don't know and I'm skeptical too )

If it's only programed to think and given no information about emotions and moods, but somehow spontaneously develops them, then I would be inclined to consider it to be a sentient being and possibly a person.
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: voodoo on February 15, 2007, 06:41:32 PM
So, is an extremely retarded homo sapien a person?

Yes.

Move to strike - non-responsive.

Oh, wait, I asked a leading question.  Nevermind.

The point is, my dog and I play hide and seek every night.  I hide, she seeks.  She invariably finds me through a process of elimination identical to that of a child.  How is that process of elimination instinctual and not rational?  And, if your definition of a person is "self guided and rational" how does an extremely retarded person fit that description?
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: Jason Orr on February 15, 2007, 08:19:28 PM
I see lots of people who don't think, but I still call them persons.  It depends on how you define thought.
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: ladyattis on February 15, 2007, 08:42:47 PM
The point is, my dog and I play hide and seek every night.  I hide, she seeks.  She invariably finds me through a process of elimination identical to that of a child.  How is that process of elimination instinctual and not rational?  And, if your definition of a person is "self guided and rational" how does an extremely retarded person fit that description?

Yet it's actually instinct in their response. A dog can't conceive, it can only perceive. That's why you don't see dogs making rockets, GM foods, and dildos. Basically, humans and few other animals can carry the title rational animal (most of the primates, african gray parrot, and possibly dolphins).

-- Bridget
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: voodoo on February 15, 2007, 08:45:50 PM
Pining for the fjords is rationalization?   :lol:

How is a process of elimination not rational?  How is an extremely retarded person rational when they also don't make rockets, GM foods, or dildos?
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: ladyattis on February 15, 2007, 08:49:05 PM
How is a process of elimination not rational?
Because a computer can do it without thinking. We call it binary or sequential search in abstract data types and algorithms class.
Quote
How is an extremely retarded person rational when they also don't make rockets, GM foods, or dildos?
Because many retarded persons will reference themselves, what belongs to them, and what they really feel, even if it's very basic. The same for toddlers and such. Dogs don't have a sense of self in that if you put a dog in front of a mirror it will not recognize its own image as its own.

-- Bridget
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: voodoo on February 15, 2007, 09:09:09 PM
How is a process of elimination not rational?
Because a computer can do it without thinking. We call it binary or sequential search in abstract data types and algorithms class.

Quote
How is an extremely retarded person rational when they also don't make rockets, GM foods, or dildos?
Because many retarded persons will reference themselves, what belongs to them, and what they really feel, even if it's very basic. The same for toddlers and such. Dogs don't have a sense of self in that if you put a dog in front of a mirror it will not recognize its own image as its own.

-- Bridget

Has there been a study that shows that over a long term the dog never learns that it is the dog in the mirror?  Can a dog even see itself in a mirror?  Is recognizing oneself in a mirror the test of rational behavior?  Because my dog, beyond a doubt, expresses her feelings and is protective of her stuff (and my stuff), if that's the test.

How does your definition, then, fit a blind toddler?  Or, a healthy fetus?
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: Mike Barskey on February 15, 2007, 09:41:00 PM
I'd have no problem calling a thinking machine or "synthetic" entity "intelligent," "sentient," "rational," "self-aware," etc., as well as whatever term is created to identify this new type of being (like "homo-sapien" or "human" or "person" define us). But it is not a "person," which word's etymology includes the parital definition of "being a human being." Common use of the word "person" also implies human being.

- Mike

(what is the proper grammar there: "But it's not a 'person,' which word's..." - is "which word's" correct?)
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: ladyattis on February 15, 2007, 10:24:10 PM
Mike, not according to logic if you include that rationality is the fundamental portion of the definition of person. That implies the Set of Person includes non-humans.

Lemme give you a different angle. A biological life form from another planet comes to Earth and greets you. Maybe his name is analogous to the name Bill or whatever, but s/he/it greets you. And it says it wants to talk to you. Maybe sports, maybe the secret to life or whatever, but it wants to talk to you. Are you saying the alien from another world is not a person, thus is not allowed to be treated as an equal in turn as the term person also implies sameness, thus equalness insomuch of equal consideration or equal access to what we call rights. So, if you don't consider it a person, it implies it is not equal to you [maybe it's greater than you, who knows in this definitional argument...] and that might imply it has no access to rights.

Do you understand why this is a problem? Consider it a reverse 'slippery slope', but in this case the slippery slope is legitimate. If you can a rational agent a non-person just because of its compositional status, then it implies the other two things I stated, which could also be applied to any other human that is different to a greater or lesser extent. Think of the idea that women have no rights because they can't create sperm or have superior upper body strength. That mildly or severely retarded humans are not persons because their reasoning is not exactly like our own, thus not open to equal access to rights, moral consideration, and etc. I could go on and on, but I think I made my point. :)

-- Bridget
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: Mike Barskey on February 15, 2007, 10:45:25 PM
Mike, not according to logic if you include that rationality is the fundamental portion of the definition of person. That implies the Set of Person includes non-humans.

Lemme give you a different angle. A biological life form from another planet comes to Earth and greets you. Maybe his name is analogous to the name Bill or whatever, but s/he/it greets you. And it says it wants to talk to you. Maybe sports, maybe the secret to life or whatever, but it wants to talk to you. Are you saying the alien from another world is not a person, thus is not allowed to be treated as an equal in turn as the term person also implies sameness, thus equalness insomuch of equal consideration or equal access to what we call rights. So, if you don't consider it a person, it implies it is not equal to you [maybe it's greater than you, who knows in this definitional argument...] and that might imply it has no access to rights.

Do you understand why this is a problem? Consider it a reverse 'slippery slope', but in this case the slippery slope is legitimate. If you can a rational agent a non-person just because of its compositional status, then it implies the other two things I stated, which could also be applied to any other human that is different to a greater or lesser extent. Think of the idea that women have no rights because they can't create sperm or have superior upper body strength. That mildly or severely retarded humans are not persons because their reasoning is not exactly like our own, thus not open to equal access to rights, moral consideration, and etc. I could go on and on, but I think I made my point. :)

-- Bridget

Bridget, I understand and agree with your first point about fundamental properties being a mandatory part of a defniition. In fact I agree with most of what you just said, but I simply think the word "person" in the English language is not appropriate for a robot or an alien or any non-human, regardless of their intelligence (of course, language evolves and should we discover such intelligent beings and people commonly refer to them as "people" then the term itself would change). However, I disagree with what you said regarding equality: "So, if you don't consider it a person, it implies it is not equal to you." That's not correct: Just because I consider something as a "non-person" does not mean that I consider it equal or inequal to me (or to other "persons"), it just means I consider it different.

Regarding rights and equality of this other intelligent type of being: should we discover or encounter this being, our ideas of rights and equality  will need reviewing. Some people won't think at all and their prejudices are irrelevant. Others, like me and probably you, will use logic to categorize and abstract the fundamental properties of humans and of this robot/alien, and we'd possibly end up determining that all rational beings are morally equal. Men and women are physically different to a slight degree, and morally we are equal. Humans and dogs are physically different and are not morally equal due to dogs' lack of rationality.

In other words, I completely agree that this being might be equal, moral, intelligent, social, etc., but I would not use the word "person."

- Mike
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: ladyattis on February 15, 2007, 11:33:32 PM
Bridget, I understand and agree with your first point about fundamental properties being a mandatory part of a defniition. In fact I agree with most of what you just said, but I simply think the word "person" in the English language is not appropriate for a robot or an alien or any non-human, regardless of their intelligence (of course, language evolves and should we discover such intelligent beings and people commonly refer to them as "people" then the term itself would change). However, I disagree with what you said regarding equality: "So, if you don't consider it a person, it implies it is not equal to you." That's not correct: Just because I consider something as a "non-person" does not mean that I consider it equal or inequal to me (or to other "persons"), it just means I consider it different.
Yet you have not qualified why the definition should follow as you imply because remember, a non-person according to law has no rights. According to all ethical theories a non-person has no moral considerations nor obligations. And so forth. I think the fact that you dwell on what a dictionary says instead of what a logician or a philosopher says proves my point. Words are not static, they evolve. Women use to be considered non-persons not only in law, but also in philosophical theory until other people recognized this division, this claim to difference to be a farce. I call what you say to be difference a farce as well, nothing personal on your part, but it is what it is in that regard. To make a special category for humanness apart from non-humanness by calling us people and others non-people is not only erroneous in the construct of personhood, it is also erroneous in the nature of all rational agents. A rational agent in philosophy is a person, period and end of story and for the reasons I've stated. From the Utilitarians to the Objectivists, this is a universally agreed upon definition, you seem to be the only one in the whole world of philosophical giants, of scientific paragons that holds out. You need to substantiate why, beyond the dictionary.


-- Bridget
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: Mike Barskey on February 16, 2007, 12:02:49 AM
Bridget, I understand and agree with your first point about fundamental properties being a mandatory part of a defniition. In fact I agree with most of what you just said, but I simply think the word "person" in the English language is not appropriate for a robot or an alien or any non-human, regardless of their intelligence (of course, language evolves and should we discover such intelligent beings and people commonly refer to them as "people" then the term itself would change). However, I disagree with what you said regarding equality: "So, if you don't consider it a person, it implies it is not equal to you." That's not correct: Just because I consider something as a "non-person" does not mean that I consider it equal or inequal to me (or to other "persons"), it just means I consider it different.
Yet you have not qualified why the definition should follow as you imply because remember, a non-person according to law has no rights. According to all ethical theories a non-person has no moral considerations nor obligations. And so forth. I think the fact that you dwell on what a dictionary says instead of what a logician or a philosopher says proves my point. Words are not static, they evolve. Women use to be considered non-persons not only in law, but also in philosophical theory until other people recognized this division, this claim to difference to be a farce. I call what you say to be difference a farce as well, nothing personal on your part, but it is what it is in that regard. To make a special category for humanness apart from non-humanness by calling us people and others non-people is not only erroneous in the construct of personhood, it is also erroneous in the nature of all rational agents. A rational agent in philosophy is a person, period and end of story and for the reasons I've stated. From the Utilitarians to the Objectivists, this is a universally agreed upon definition, you seem to be the only one in the whole world of philosophical giants, of scientific paragons that holds out. You need to substantiate why, beyond the dictionary.


-- Bridget

I think we're saying the same thing, but coming from different angles. I think you're saying that a foreign intelligent being, currently unknown to us, becomes a "person" once we determine that it is intelligent/rational. I am saying that once we determine the a foreign intelligent being is intelligent/rational, we need to create a new word to properly define the new being and humans as a group. Indeed we will have common traits - common fundamental traits, such as rationality and intelligence - but we also have differing traits such as our biology, our anatomy, our moral goals as living beings, our lifespans. We could logically be grouped and called "neopeeps," the definition of which might be "rational beings" (and "neopeeps" would consist of human "persons" and aliens), but I still contend that a "person" is defined as a "rational human being."

If we define something properly, integrating it with all of our other knowledge, appropriately identifying its essential characteristics (Rand's Conceptual Common Denominator), then when we gain more knowledge (e.g. learn of a new type of intelligent being) our previous definition is not incorrect (it does not cease to be correct in the context of our knowldge at the time, before we knew of intelligent aliens), it just needs to be refined to fit our new knowledge. In the example of women being considered "non-persons" legally until society evolved and realized they are "persons" and therefore are equal (legally in that case, not morally), the word "person" was appropriately applied to them, since "person" meant "human being" - it's just that before that time, society misused the word "person" to refer only to males (rather, the law did).

As for being the only one in the whole world of philosophical giants who is holding out, I'm not sure how to take this. As a compliment, since you're placing me with philosophical giants ( :D ) or as stupid for not conforming to a universally agreed upon definition (which isn't universally agreed upon since at least one person disagrees: me).

- Mike
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: ladyattis on February 16, 2007, 12:07:26 AM
I think we're saying the same thing, but coming from different angles. I think you're saying that a foreign intelligent being, currently unknown to us, becomes a "person" once we determine that it is intelligent/rational. I am saying that once we determine the a foreign intelligent being is intelligent/rational, we need to create a new word to properly define the new being and humans as a group. Indeed we will have common traits - common fundamental traits, such as rationality and intelligence - but we also have differing traits such as our biology, our anatomy, our moral goals as living beings, our lifespans. We could logically be grouped and called "neopeeps," the definition of which might be "rational beings" (and "neopeeps" would consist of human "persons" and aliens), but I still contend that a "person" is defined as a "rational human being."
Yet that's not how it works. Person applies now to possible AI just as it now applies to female humans today due to rationality being the defining property of the definition of person. In fact, you could call rationality the 'return type' of person if you think of person as a function in programming terms.

Quote
If we define something properly, integrating it with all of our other knowledge, appropriately identifying its essential characteristics (Rand's Conceptual Common Denominator), then when we gain more knowledge (e.g. learn of a new type of intelligent being) our previous definition is not incorrect (it does not cease to be correct in the context of our knowldge at the time, before we knew of intelligent aliens), it just needs to be refined to fit our new knowledge. In the example of women being considered "non-persons" legally until society evolved and realized they are "persons" and therefore are equal (legally in that case, not morally), the word "person" was appropriately applied to them, since "person" meant "human being" - it's just that before that time, society misused the word "person" to refer only to males (rather, the law did).
Yet Rand never contended that non-human rational agents were not persons. In fact I believe even Peikoff acknowledges that if hypothetically space aliens were to come down to Earth he would call them persons as well because for any race to learn how to integrate knowledge to the level of traveling across spacetime automatically gets inducted. The same would follow for AI.


-- Bridget
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: Mike Barskey on February 16, 2007, 12:22:41 AM
Yet that's not how it works. Person applies now to possible AI just as it now applies to female humans today due to rationality being the defining property of the definition of person. In fact, you could call rationality the 'return type' of person if you think of person as a function in programming terms.

Why is it "not how it works?" Why does the word "person" include future knowledge, currently unknown "knowledge?" Once we discovered/encountered an intelligent alien, you're saying that we'd look at the current definition of "person" (which is "rational human being") and change it to accommodate our new knowledge ("rational being")? Why would we do this, since we already have knowledge/definitions that encompass this (while we don't know about intelligent aliens, we can theorize, as we're doing now): We have the words "rational," "human," and "alien" - and we have "person" ("a rational human"), so why wouldn't we create "alientelligent" ("a rational alien") and "neopeep" ("rational beings")? Actually, I may be questioning myself onto your side of the argument. Does it really make a difference which word we redefine to fit our new knowledge? We could redefine "person" to include aliens and humans, or we could create a new word "neopeep" to encompass both entities. Hmmm...

Yet Rand never contended that non-human rational agents were not persons. In fact I believe even Peikoff acknowledges that if hypothetically space aliens were to come down to Earth he would call them persons as well because for any race to learn how to integrate knowledge to the level of traveling across spacetime automatically gets inducted. The same would follow for AI.

Rand may not have contended that rational agents were not "persons," but I don't think she contended that all rational agents would be called "persons." I'd love to read about this if you can reference it. I vaguely remember a reference to intelligent aliens, but I don't remember Peikoff saying they'd be called humans. I want to find that. I'll go search my Objectivist Research CD, but it doesn't have every writing of course.

- Mike

Edit:
The only reference I can find in all Rand's fiction and most non-fiction, and in Peikoff's ITOE and OPAR to an alien is:
Quote
Analytic truths are necessary; no matter what region of space or what period of time one considers, such propositions must hold true. Indeed, they are said to be true not only throughout the universe which actually exists, but in "all possible worlds"—to use Leibniz's famous phrase. Since its denial is self-contradictory, the opposite of any analytic truth is unimaginable and inconceivable. A visitor from an alien planet might relate many unexpected marvels, but his claims would be rejected out-of-hand if he announced that, in his world, ice was a gas, man was a postage stamp, and 2 plus 2 equaled 7.3.

This has nothing to do with the definition of the word "person" or "alien." I hope you can find it for me!
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: markuzick on February 16, 2007, 01:24:57 AM
Yet that's not how it works. Person applies now to possible AI just as it now applies to female humans today due to rationality being the defining property of the definition of person. In fact, you could call rationality the 'return type' of person if you think of person as a function in programming terms.

Why is it "not how it works?" Why does the word "person" include future knowledge, currently unknown "knowledge?" Once we discovered/encountered an intelligent alien, you're saying that we'd look at the current definition of "person" (which is "rational human being") and change it to accommodate our new knowledge ("rational being")? Why would we do this, since we already have knowledge/definitions that encompass this (while we don't know about intelligent aliens, we can theorize, as we're doing now): We have the words "rational," "human," and "alien" - and we have "person" ("a rational human"), so why wouldn't we create "alientelligent" ("a rational alien") and "neopeep" ("rational beings")? Actually, I may be questioning myself onto your side of the argument. Does it really make a difference which word we redefine to fit our new knowledge? We could redefine "person" to include aliens and humans, or we could create a new word "neopeep" to encompass both entities. Hmmm...

Yet Rand never contended that non-human rational agents were not persons. In fact I believe even Peikoff acknowledges that if hypothetically space aliens were to come down to Earth he would call them persons as well because for any race to learn how to integrate knowledge to the level of traveling across spacetime automatically gets inducted. The same would follow for AI.

Rand may not have contended that rational agents were not "persons," but I don't think she contended that all rational agents would be called "persons." I'd love to read about this if you can reference it. I vaguely remember a reference to intelligent aliens, but I don't remember Peikoff saying they'd be called humans. I want to find that. I'll go search my Objectivist Research CD, but it doesn't have every writing of course.

- Mike


The dictionary may have different definitions for different common usages for a word, but to be intelligible, we must use a definition that is appropriate to the discussion at hand. In a natural rights oriented political forum on aliens and AI, the relevant and most useful definition of the word person, is not found in the dictionary yet. I believe it should be a blend of the philosophical definition-

4.   Philosophy. a self-conscious or rational being.

and part of the legal definition-

11.   Law. a human being (natural person) or a group of human beings, a corporation, a partnership, an estate, or other legal entity (artificial person or juristic person) recognized by law as having rights and duties.

which we can coin right here-

person- A sentient being, who has natural rights by grace of its potential ability and willingness to both comprehend and respect the equal natural rights of all other persons.

I admit that this is holding person-hood to a higher moral standard than what would normally be considered useful, but I think it works well for our purposes here.
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: Gordee on February 17, 2007, 12:04:29 PM
"Person" discussed here is being developed at The Technical University in Lausanne, Switzerland. Researchers have created an artificial brain, called "Blue Brain", that currently has about 10 000 computer chips that act like real nerve cells. The goal for the next year is to build a much bigger thinking computer with one million nerve cells. Furthermore, by 2015 researchers hope to complete their primary goal - a replication of the entire human brain, for which 100 billion cells have to be engineered.

More here:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,466789,00.html
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: ladyattis on February 17, 2007, 01:49:34 PM
Why is it "not how it works?" Why does the word "person" include future knowledge, currently unknown "knowledge?" Once we discovered/encountered an intelligent alien, you're saying that we'd look at the current definition of "person" (which is "rational human being") and change it to accommodate our new knowledge ("rational being")? Why would we do this, since we already have knowledge/definitions that encompass this (while we don't know about intelligent aliens, we can theorize, as we're doing now): We have the words "rational," "human," and "alien" - and we have "person" ("a rational human"), so why wouldn't we create "alientelligent" ("a rational alien") and "neopeep" ("rational beings")? Actually, I may be questioning myself onto your side of the argument. Does it really make a difference which word we redefine to fit our new knowledge? We could redefine "person" to include aliens and humans, or we could create a new word "neopeep" to encompass both entities. Hmmm...
Because the definition of person works the same in both instances. The truth values for person is fulfilled. Plus this plead that it's future knowledge is a bit skiddish when you look at it. First it implies that no current can be extended to consider or to integrate new knowledge. Second it implies that certain principles of logic are not invariant and should change even if they are consistent across the largest set of all possibles. And that's my stickler to you. How do you handle those hanging facts?


Quote
Rand may not have contended that rational agents were not "persons," but I don't think she contended that all rational agents would be called "persons." I'd love to read about this if you can reference it. I vaguely remember a reference to intelligent aliens, but I don't remember Peikoff saying they'd be called humans. I want to find that. I'll go search my Objectivist Research CD, but it doesn't have every writing of course.
ITOE, second edition on the definition of human.
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: Taors on February 17, 2007, 08:06:27 PM
I'm going to lynch every robot person I see.
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: Mike Barskey on March 15, 2007, 11:06:22 PM
Sorry for such a long delay before my response.

Why is it "not how it works?" Why does the word "person" include future knowledge, currently unknown "knowledge?" Once we discovered/encountered an intelligent alien, you're saying that we'd look at the current definition of "person" (which is "rational human being") and change it to accommodate our new knowledge ("rational being")? Why would we do this, since we already have knowledge/definitions that encompass this (while we don't know about intelligent aliens, we can theorize, as we're doing now): We have the words "rational," "human," and "alien" - and we have "person" ("a rational human"), so why wouldn't we create "alientelligent" ("a rational alien") and "neopeep" ("rational beings")? Actually, I may be questioning myself onto your side of the argument. Does it really make a difference which word we redefine to fit our new knowledge? We could redefine "person" to include aliens and humans, or we could create a new word "neopeep" to encompass both entities. Hmmm...
Because the definition of person works the same in both instances. The truth values for person is fulfilled. Plus this plead that it's future knowledge is a bit skiddish when you look at it. First it implies that no current can be extended to consider or to integrate new knowledge. Second it implies that certain principles of logic are not invariant and should change even if they are consistent across the largest set of all possibles. And that's my stickler to you. How do you handle those hanging facts?

I don't agree that "it implies that certain principles of logic are not invariant." I'm claiming that the definition of "human" is invariant, bound by the contents of all curent human knowledge. I'm saying that new knowledge (the extsitence of rational alien beings) would require a new definition or a new word. What principle of logic does this make variant? I'm saying that if you extend the definition of the word "human" to include rational alieng beings as well as rational human beings, why can't you just change the definition of the word "atom" to include everything, since that would still be "consistent across the largest set of all possibles." The key for a definition is the essential characteristics (the Conceptual Common Denominator).

New Oxford American Dictionary defines "human being" as:
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a man, woman, or child of the species Homo sapiens, distinguished from other animals by superior mental development, power of articulate speech, and upright stance.

... and "human" as:
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a human being, esp. a person as distinguished from an animal or (in science fiction) an alien.

I think their definition of "human being" is not quite right, because an upright stance and articulate speech are not a distinguishing feature of humans ("upright" is subjective and surely other animals could be considered to have an upright stance; and some animals communicate within their breed via articulate speech, like dolphins) and because it suggests that humans' ability to reason is merely a faculty that any animal has and can develop (like if a dog developed mentally to a point at which we considered them "superior" then it would be human). But I agree that a distinguishing and essential characteristic of human beings is that they must be "a man, woman, or child of the species Homo sapiens." This would simply not include aliens.

I quoted their definition of "human" because I thought it funny that it specifically defines humans "as distinguished from...an alien," but their definition is rediculous. Their definition of "person" is "a human being regarded as an individual," yet their definition of "human" is "...a person..."

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Rand may not have contended that rational agents were not "persons," but I don't think she contended that all rational agents would be called "persons." I'd love to read about this if you can reference it. I vaguely remember a reference to intelligent aliens, but I don't remember Peikoff saying they'd be called humans. I want to find that. I'll go search my Objectivist Research CD, but it doesn't have every writing of course.
ITOE, second edition on the definition of human.

ITOE 2nd Ed. is included in the Objectivist Research CD, so I have the ability to search its contents. No hits for "person," "people," "human," and "alien" reveal or suggest any definition of those specific words. It's likely that Rand's definition of one of those words is in the book, but I am not going to reread it now; I have a list of others I want to complete first.

My stance is unchanged; I think the word "human" would not include rational aliens or robots should we discover/invent them; instead, I think that a new word would be coined to define the new creature, as well as another new word to encompass both (or all rational beings, even unknown ones).

- Mike
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: ladyattis on March 15, 2007, 11:57:06 PM
I don't agree that "it implies that certain principles of logic are not invariant." I'm claiming that the definition of "human" is invariant, bound by the contents of all curent human knowledge. I'm saying that new knowledge (the extsitence of rational alien beings) would require a new definition or a new word. What principle of logic does this make variant? I'm saying that if you extend the definition of the word "human" to include rational alieng beings as well as rational human beings, why can't you just change the definition of the word "atom" to include everything, since that would still be "consistent across the largest set of all possibles." The key for a definition is the essential characteristics (the Conceptual Common Denominator).
According to whom? Lets take the word atom, it's been around for about three thousand years. The ancient Greeks used it to be mean that which is indivisible. Today, atoms are indeed divisible, so we stop calling modern atoms their namesake? So, by your logic atoms are not atoms, yet they are. Paradox/Contradiction! Whoops!

So, that pretty much proves my point. Just because a word was once attributed to a single definition does not imply it is that way forever, nor that knowledge modifies, condenses, and expands the lexicon. In short, words too are subject to the CCD, in that when a word becomes to mean another thing it gets changed over and the older definition is depreciated.


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I think their definition of "human being" is not quite right, because an upright stance and articulate speech are not a distinguishing feature of humans ("upright" is subjective and surely other animals could be considered to have an upright stance; and some animals communicate within their breed via articulate speech, like dolphins) and because it suggests that humans' ability to reason is merely a faculty that any animal has and can develop (like if a dog developed mentally to a point at which we considered them "superior" then it would be human). But I agree that a distinguishing and essential characteristic of human beings is that they must be "a man, woman, or child of the species Homo sapiens." This would simply not include aliens.
No, aliens would be called persons too since they are rational agents. You seem to be going in circles here. Where is Person defined in philosophy in general to solely and wholly mean humans? Not a single time have I seen such a definition, not by Rand and not by her contemporaries, nor ours.

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My stance is unchanged; I think the word "human" would not include rational aliens or robots should we discover/invent them; instead, I think that a new word would be coined to define the new creature, as well as another new word to encompass both (or all rational beings, even unknown ones).
Human != Person, please try again. You're going in circles!

Here's your logic.

A) A human is a person because of XYZ properties. In this case, the property of REASON and volition are the primary features that define a person. And humans have these qualities, so they're PERSONS.

B) You're ASSUMING because all we know is humans in the category of PERSONS, that THERE CAN BE NO OTHER SPECIES IN THE GENUS PERSONS. That doesn't follow, you have not shown a conclusive logic proof or an empirical basis for that any rational volitional agent organic, in-organic, or whatever cannot be a person. I have proven my case by the fact that the MAJORITY OF PHILOSOPHERS AGREE that PERSONS is a GENUS for which HUMANS ARE A SUBSET BUT *NOT* THE SET THEREOF.  Therefore, the onus is now on you to show why this relationship between PERSONS and HUMAN is wrong.

My argument still stands, and you have yet to knock it down. Get to work and stop the circling. If I wanted circling I'll read Leonard Peikoff.

-- Bridget
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: ladyattis on March 16, 2007, 12:05:40 AM
To further clarify I'll write in an abridged form of Java.


class Persons {

boolean volitional, rational;
   Persons () {
                 volitional = true;
                 rational = true;
                }

//...

}

class Human extends Persons  {
  String firstName, lastName;
  float birth, death, anAge;
 //...
}

class Alien extends Persons { ... }

class artificialIntelligence extends Persons { ... }

Each class there that is a PERSONS, so it has a state that is rational and volitional. Understand? Do I need to crack open the UML to explain?

-- Bridget gets annoyed with circular arguments.
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: gibson042 on March 16, 2007, 01:28:40 AM
Bridget, did you have to use the word "genus"?  Humans, homo sapiens, already have a genus.  Paradox/Contradiction! Whoops!

I kid, I kid...

P.S. Why is your class name plural?  Wouldn't "Person" make a better choice? :wink:
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: AlexLibman on March 16, 2007, 10:12:46 AM
I am a know-nothing racist.

For those in the human race, everything!  (Each according to his ability!)

For those outside the human race, nothing!  (Unless they can kick our ass...)
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: Mike Barskey on March 16, 2007, 10:43:48 AM
I don't agree that "it implies that certain principles of logic are not invariant." I'm claiming that the definition of "human" is invariant, bound by the contents of all curent human knowledge. I'm saying that new knowledge (the extsitence of rational alien beings) would require a new definition or a new word. What principle of logic does this make variant? I'm saying that if you extend the definition of the word "human" to include rational alieng beings as well as rational human beings, why can't you just change the definition of the word "atom" to include everything, since that would still be "consistent across the largest set of all possibles." The key for a definition is the essential characteristics (the Conceptual Common Denominator).
According to whom? Lets take the word atom, it's been around for about three thousand years. The ancient Greeks used it to be mean that which is indivisible. Today, atoms are indeed divisible, so we stop calling modern atoms their namesake? So, by your logic atoms are not atoms, yet they are. Paradox/Contradiction! Whoops!

So, that pretty much proves my point. Just because a word was once attributed to a single definition does not imply it is that way forever, nor that knowledge modifies, condenses, and expands the lexicon. In short, words too are subject to the CCD, in that when a word becomes to mean another thing it gets changed over and the older definition is depreciated.

I think your atom example convinced me. At least, for now. :) Ancient greeks used all human knowledge at the time to define the an "atom" as "that which is indivisible." Their mistake was incorrectly choosing essential characteristics. Today we still call it an "atom" but the definition has changed since we know it consists of still smaller parts. So you're saying that if I'm currently defining the word "person" to be "a rational human agent," I'm mistakenly adding "human" as an essential characteristic of "person." This makes sense to me.

Another mistake I've made in this discussion is mixing the words "person" and "human." I understand that "person" can be defined as "a rational agent," which would include humans as well as other rational agents, but I still think that an essential characteristic of "human" is "homo sapien" (but I see now that that definition could be changed in the future - but if it does change in the future, shouldn't there be a new word to define "rational homo sapien?").

I never responded to this:
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How is an extremely retarded person rational when they also don't make rockets, GM foods, or dildos?
Because many retarded persons will reference themselves, what belongs to them, and what they really feel, even if it's very basic. The same for toddlers and such. Dogs don't have a sense of self in that if you put a dog in front of a mirror it will not recognize its own image as its own.

-- Bridget

While a dog does not recognize its own image as its own, elephants and some primates do, and possibly some other animals as well. Are these animals rational?

- Mike

Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: ladyattis on March 16, 2007, 11:20:29 AM
Bridget, did you have to use the word "genus"?  Humans, homo sapiens, already have a genus.  Paradox/Contradiction! Whoops!

I kid, I kid...

P.S. Why is your class name plural?  Wouldn't "Person" make a better choice? :wink:

An entity can have multiple genuses. WHOOPS! You lose again.

Human is also in the general genus of MAMMAL, UPRIGHT WALKER, LANGUAGE ADEPT, etc...


-- Bridget bonks you with big book of OOP paradigms, which she hates hates hates!
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: ladyattis on March 16, 2007, 11:24:33 AM
I think your atom example convinced me. At least, for now. :) Ancient greeks used all human knowledge at the time to define the an "atom" as "that which is indivisible." Their mistake was incorrectly choosing essential characteristics. Today we still call it an "atom" but the definition has changed since we know it consists of still smaller parts. So you're saying that if I'm currently defining the word "person" to be "a rational human agent," I'm mistakenly adding "human" as an essential characteristic of "person." This makes sense to me.
Not mistakes, just an addition to our knowledge. To them there were things that are indivisible. They couldn't cut most material past a certain point. They couldn't understand why a statue, when rubbed by passers-by for good luck would show an erosion pattern. And so on. So some of them concluded it had to be made of something that could not break down any further and they were right for their technology.

Quote
Another mistake I've made in this discussion is mixing the words "person" and "human." I understand that "person" can be defined as "a rational agent," which would include humans as well as other rational agents, but I still think that an essential characteristic of "human" is "homo sapien" (but I see now that that definition could be changed in the future - but if it does change in the future, shouldn't there be a new word to define "rational homo sapien?").
Not really just as we don't have a new word to describe atoms and there's hundreds [currently] of different kinds of them in regards to the periodic table of elements.

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While a dog does not recognize its own image as its own, elephants and some primates do, and possibly some other animals as well. Are these animals rational?
Dogs don't get the nice shiny neocortex. Most primates do, but only a smaller version as it were. Something about that part of the brain does seem to spark the power of volition and reason. Whatever it does, it sure does it well.

-- Bridget
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: gibson042 on March 16, 2007, 12:16:55 PM
Human is also in the general genus of MAMMAL, UPRIGHT WALKER, LANGUAGE ADEPT, etc...

Mammal (i.e., Mammalia) is a class, not a genus.  The genus of humans is Homo, the family is Hominidae, the order is Primates, etc.  "Genus" has a very specific singular meaning that is by far its most common use.  "Set" or "category" or even "class" would have served you better.  It was a joke, dammit!
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: AbsurdParadox on March 16, 2007, 02:23:03 PM
This is probably the dumbest intelligent thread I've ever seen. Evar.
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: Mike Barskey on March 16, 2007, 02:38:19 PM
This is probably the dumbest intelligent thread I've ever seen. Evar.

Uhhhhh... Thanks? No, wait!

- Mike
Title: Re: Of Man and Machine...
Post by: ladyattis on March 16, 2007, 07:52:06 PM
Human is also in the general genus of MAMMAL, UPRIGHT WALKER, LANGUAGE ADEPT, etc...

Mammal (i.e., Mammalia) is a class, not a genus.  The genus of humans is Homo, the family is Hominidae, the order is Primates, etc.  "Genus" has a very specific singular meaning that is by far its most common use.  "Set" or "category" or even "class" would have served you better.  It was a joke, dammit!

Not in a generalized context. If we're talking about a single layer of related categories, then genus works fine.

-- Bridget