Showing posts with label human nature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label human nature. Show all posts

Friday, December 5, 2014

The State of Consciousness: Meeting the Philosophers of Artificial Intelligence

Consciousness is our state of awareness and has been debated among theologians for a long time. John Locke discussed consciousness as perception that passes through the mind while Rene Descartes followed Cartesian Dualism when pondering the differences between physical and mental matter. No one has every truly defined, empirically broke down, or proven the existence of consciousness. I had the pleasure of meeting a group of philosophers to discuss the nature of consciousness in today’s world.

Of course I am not talking about sandal wearing theologians coming out from some past century to share their Socratic wisdom. Instead of unemployed philosophers the group was made of psychologists, computer engineers, and even a mathematician. They are an eclectic crew that ranged from individuals who wore t-shirts with formulas to those with proper business attire. Each attended with their own interest in the topic from a professional and hobbyist point of view.

The meeting was fast paced and gave each person just a little time to discuss their understanding and knowledge of the topics. Participants discussed the nature of consciousness, difference between mind and consciousness and its application to artificial intelligence.  The knowledge contained within this group of enthusiast far surpassed that which you will find on the street.

What is Consciousness?

The group attempted to answer question with a variety of different responses based upon their research and experience. Answers included comments such as outside of self, neuro nature, reflectiveness, greater than parts, universal, life force, subconscious, and awareness of right or wrong. It is a property that has a meaning beyond the individual entity.

Consolidated Definition: Consciousness is neurologically based intelligence and awareness that transcends oneself to greater understanding of the environment.

Mind vs. Conscious:

The beginning of the discussion started with an attempt to understand the difference between mind and consciousness but soon morphed into the hypothetical place where consciousness is first realized. They used terms like environmental adaptability, levels of consciousness, collective awareness, relatedness of mind and consciousness, and evolving into consciousness.

Consolidated Definition: Awareness is an evolving process that purposefully improves survival of oneself and one’s species through greater levels of awareness (knowledge and understanding of self within one's environment.).

Artificial Intelligence and Consciousness:

It is not currently believed that Artificial Intelligence has the ability to create consciousness but is at present stuck in programing and thinking. When machines become aware of their existence, survival, and form a species they will be considered to be living with consciousness and therefore engage in independent goal-directed behavior.  At such time, machines will have a level of “free will” and independence of thought beyond their programmers. This makes them a living species of a different breed and a new developmental trajectory.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Discussing Parks as a Place of Value Through Poetry

Poetry offers a new way of looking at the same thing. A new perspective with enough feeling or insight to challenge our previous assumptions. It doesn't really matter much what the topic of discussion is as poetry is about everyday life. In this case poetry can be about parks and their value to the environment both financially and aesthetically.

Parks and landscaping are used to improve upon the environment. They cost a significant amount of money to build and more money to maintain but they are worth it. There is a reason why we are so attracted to parks and why we as humans enjoy them. We enjoy them so much that those neighborhoods that have parks and landscaping are worth more than those who don't.

Parks are more than simple decoration as they provide activities, recreation and a chance to connect. They keep wildlife in the area and become places where people socialize. Birds and squirrels become actors on our real life television that plays a metaphorical movie from each park bench. At its very root parks remind us of where we came and our backgrounds. We feel comfortable there because nature is where we came from.

 The Priceless Benefits of Parks

Parks are refuges of nature's wild,
Places where the constructed meet the unconstructed,
What costs money today was once born in the wild,
A capsule of time long past.

The birds and squirrels don't seem to care,
Their lives are consumed by chasing nuts and berries,
They can spend a lifetime in the same preserve,
No worries but that which is in front of them.

Man is a different creature entirely,
A park is simply a place to sit,
Somewhere to gain  perspective,
A large decoration on a map.

The value is not in the bushes and trees,
It is a little more than the perfectly groomed lawn,
It is a real life movie to watch on the canvass of a blue sky,
A projector into their past.

We are not much different than the birds and squirrels,
Most of us chase our nuts and berries within a few short miles,
We sit in the parks to remind us of our past, of where we came,
A small reminder of our place in it all. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Throwing Ourselves Two Million Years into Human Advancement

Divisions of Labor were born with the human ability to throw a projectile.  Research has taught us that as people learned the ability to throw sticks, stones, rocks, and weapons the social nature of life began to change. Where humans were limited in their food supply, the ability to throw objects created more efficient hunting that led to increased calorie intake. Researchers recently published the interesting findings on human development in the journal Nature.

The shoulder has developed in such as way to maintain elastic energy so that when it is released it can produce the fastest motion possible. Other species cannot do this. Where chimpanzees can throw 20 mph the human can often achieve up to 100 mph. This makes the projectiles much faster than the natural speed in the environment. This faster speed creates higher levels of food and nutrition obtainment which fosters population growth. 

The division of labor occurred because food was a commodity that could be bartered and traded. As hunters brought back more food people obtained more nutrition and had larger families, became bigger in size, and were able to focus on other activities. Where animals constantly seek food for survival humans developed the ability to collaborate and collectively share food for the betterment of all. 

Throwing also encouraged the ability to hunt from a distance creating greater spatial awareness that could have led to other projectile concepts that fostered the ideas that led to modern space flight. The more efficient humans became the freer they were to pursue other life activities. Do you think you would have the time to read this article if you were out foraging for dinner? 

The researchers looked through archeological evidence to see when humans actually developed this ability. The problem is that there is a gap somewhere in the transitional development. This means that it may also be a learned function of using the body in a new way. They cannot say with high levels of surety how the skill came into being other than it seemed to show up around 2 million years ago. Without the ability to master projectiles and the resources it harnessed we cannot be sure we would be as developed as we have.