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JoyousLove's avatar

Will you answer some questions about sapience, sentience, God, the galaxy, the universe, and the multiverse?

Asked by JoyousLove (1458points) October 30th, 2016
7 responses
“Great Question” (4points)

Sentience is the capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively. Sapience is the ability to think, and to reason. It may not seem like much a difference, but the ability to reason is tied more closely to sapience than to sentience.
Is there some sort of test for sapience? Or possibly some sort of spectrum of sapience, denoting the various levels of it? Are there multiple degrees of sapience? Do you think other Earthlings might develop sapience (other Pokemon like us humans)? Do you think maybe some or all already are and we just don’t perceive it or can’t conceive of it? If we found out another species on earth were developing our level of sapience, how would we as a species react (I assume this answer will be unique for each individual, but that’s just my thought on it)? Do you think it’s possible we’re the only sapient species in the galaxy? The universe? The multiverse? Assuming for a moment that there is a God, do you think it is both sentient and sapient? Just sentient? Perhaps not even that…? Do you think it’s possible that a plant could achieve sapience? If you had to choose, in a moment which would affect the rest of your life, between being sapient and not, what would you choose? Same question, but for both sapience and sentience? Do you believe we can create a machine which is sapient? What do you think of the proposal that the universe as a whole is sapient…? A thinking, reasoning, feeling universe. Regardless of your answer, assume for a moment that it is. What part of its sapience do you as an individual represent (be as literal or abstract as you like, here)?

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Sneki95's avatar

“Is there some sort of test for sapience?”
Yes, IQ tests. They don’t work.

“Do you think other Earthlings might develop sapience? Do you think maybe some or all already are and we just don’t perceive it or can’t conceive of it? If we found out another species on earth were developing our level of sapience…?”
Dolphins, some apes, and crows are thought to be as nearly, perhaps even equally intelligent as us, at least by some. I can’t post links now, but you can find the info about it on the net. No one seems to have reacted much about it.

“Do you think it’s possible we’re the only sapient species in the galaxy?”
As long as we don’t have evidence of alien life, we are alone in cosmos.

“Assuming for a moment that there is a God, do you think it is both sentient and sapient?”
I believe there a God. It is both sapient and sentinent.

“Do you think it’s possible that a plant could achieve sapience?”
Sure.

” If you had to choose, in a moment which would affect the rest of your life, between being sapient and not, what would you choose? Same question, but for both sapience and sentience?”
I’d choose both, if possible. Reason and emotion are both crucial for us and our survival. One without another is insanity.

“Do you believe we can create a machine which is sapient?”
We will soon, if we haven’t already.

“What do you think of the proposal that the universe as a whole is sapient…? ”
Could be.

“What part of its sapience do you as an individual represent?”
None.

cinnamonk's avatar

someone got reeeally high last night…

JoyousLove's avatar

@Seek:
Yes, IQ tests. They don’t work.
My understanding of IQ is that it is Intelligence Quotient. I realize this may be the closest thing to what I asked about that does exist… But since I mean something that tests for the ability to do the things that make one sapient, this test isn’t exactly what I’m asking about. What I mean to say is… IQ tests are designed to test (maybe) the level of sapience of a human, but is there a more general test which is designed to simply test whether an individual is sapient?
Dolphins, some apes, and crows are thought to be as nearly, perhaps even equally intelligent as us, at least by some. I can’t post links now, but you can find the info about it on the net. No one seems to have reacted much about it.
Wow! I didn’t realize that was a thing even, it’s being talked about and reacted to so much. When did this information come out? I’m gonna have to google it later. :)
As long as we don’t have evidence of alien life, we are alone in cosmos.
I’m thinking you’re saying that we’ll perceive ourselves that way without evidence, right? And I would tend to agree that most of us will. But in case you were being more literal… Not being aware of the existence of a thing doesn’t make the thing not exist. I mean… At one point gravity was all theory… And before that it wasn’t even a thing we thought of or acknowledged. I imagine that far enough back we didn’t even have the base concepts used to derive the concept of gravity,,, Yet gravity persisted that entire time without our having a single conscious thought about it. We certainly perceived the results of it, sure, but who’s to say we don’t also currently observe the results of other sapient species in the cosmos? :D
I believe there a God. It is both sapient and sentinent.
So don’t think I’m trying to undermine this statement, as this is my belief as well. I did want to ask though… What is it that causes you to believe in a sentient and sapient God? I mean… Belief in a God is one thing… Further belief that that God not only feels and perceives, but actually thinks and reasons is another. Not that I’m saying I think it’s unlikely or anything else. I’m just curious what specific things lead you to believe that this God thing is a thinking, feeling entity like we are? What if God is, for example, more instinctual?
Sure.
And people look at my funny for talking to trees. Haha~ I look forward to less seemingly one-sided interactions between myself and plant life.
I’d choose both, if possible. Reason and emotion are both crucial for us and our survival. One without another is insanity.
Ah, yeah. I can see where both would probably be what most people would desire. That being said… Maybe sapience without sentience would be pretty crazy. But sentience without sapience happens all the time. Actually, some things are neither, too. It’s just nature, baby! Your dog is sentient. You are sentient and sapient. Your sea sponge… Is neither. That crazy sponge even engages in locomotion! But it lacks the nervous system necessary for what we consider to be sentience. These two questions are similar, but a bit difference. The first question, you had to choose between being sapient or not. The second question, I was trying to have you choose between having both sentience and sapience or having neither. Just wanted to clarify, even though I realize you answered the second question.
We will soon, if we haven’t already.
I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that such a creation already existed in some high security warehouse. I look forward to the day when I can greet my first sapient computer. I’m pretty sure we’d be friends.
Could be.
I like to think that it is. That we are but small parts of a whole; a universe that is a thinking, feeling, reasoning consciousness.
None.
Uh oh! FOREIGN BODY IN MY UNIVERSAL BRAIN MEATS! Hahahaha :)

@AnonymousAccount8:
someone got reeeally high last night…
Well okay, so that’s true and I won’t argue with it… But I was well into the afterglow, when I decided to post this question… And it’s actually stuff that I have given and likely will give conscious thought when I am not smoking. I just usually don’t express these thoughts, except to random strangers on the internet (e.g. on Omegle).

Also, for the record… I don’t smoke often. Last night was the first smoke I’d had in months.

Sneki95's avatar

1. Oh, I didn’t realise. My answer to your question would still be no. I don’t know any test that would determine such a thing that you ask for there.

2.Yes, that is a thing. Crows are extremely smart. Numerous experiments have shown that crows have an ability to recognise faces, have “special talk” with different crows, as well as that crows from different places have different way of “making sounds”, which makes some think they have names and even languages, are able to make tools and come up with some clever ways of getting food. Here are some things about (real life section) crows. (I adore them.).

When it comes to dolphins, they are also extremely smart, but are rather jerkasses than anything amazing. They are shown to form gangs and bully other dolphins. They also rape everything that moves, so beware.

There are some other animals that show some behaviors quite similar to humans (elephants have funeral rituals and excellent memory, bees have some complex ways of communicating, ants form gangs and go to wars, etc).

When it comes to apes, there was a chimpanzee that was thought sign language. It was able to give some very complex answers. An interesting thing is that the chimp never asked any questions, only answered/communicated. (I still like pacifistic, empathic gorillas, though).

3. Yes, that is what I thought, and still, how we perceive ourselves is what we take as truth anyways. So, if we have no hard, undeniable evidence that aliens exist, we see ourselves as alone, which, to us, is the same as being actually alone. Whether aliens truly exist or not is not important to us, if there is no evidence for it. Well, most of the time, and most of us, anyways.

4. I’ll need a whole essay on that. Also, I would have to talk about God in the Internet. Please don’t ask me do that. The short version is that I have a god of my own, that I made up. There is no official version, my god may change through time, space and situation. I still believe in it. What causes me to believe? My own brain.

5. All plants are definitely alive (unless definitely dead). Some plants have reactions to stimuli around themselves. Maybe some plants are in some sort of a comatose state, being sapient, but unable to move on their own? Who knows. Not me, I ain’t a plant (I wouldn’t mind being a nice, white lily, though). Everything is possible, if you believe hard enough.

6.Sapience without sentience is what we sometimes refer to as psychopathy. I don’t have a sea sponge, but one look at Sponge Bob may be a proof that your statement is correct. Also, some animals seem to have more reason that some humans, so…

7. I would not like my computer to chat with me, thank you very much.

8. In my (very brief) research about deism, there have been some mentions of a belief that God=nature/universe. So, if God is sentiment by default, the universe would be as well.

9. * grin *

Darth_Algar's avatar

“Do you think it’s possible we’re the only sapient species in the galaxy? The universe?”

- We’re not the only sapient lifeform on Earth. And I highly doubt that Earth is the only planet in the Universe (or even this galaxy) with sapient life (but I doubt we’ll ever know one way or the other).

“Assuming for a moment that there is a God, do you think it is both sentient and sapient? Just sentient? Perhaps not even that…?”

- If there is something like a God, some entity that created the Universe it would be something that’s so completely beyond our comprehension that our ideas of things like sentience and sapience wouldn’t even be relevant to it.

Do you think it’s possible that a plant could achieve sapience?”

Without some kind of brain I don’t see how.

“Do you believe we can create a machine which is sapient?”

- For the time being, no. No matter how “smart” our computers are. I think we very likely will at some point, but not with the technologies that we have now. It would require some technological breakthrough. True artificial sapience won’t be achieved with the processors and such that drive our machines now. It would be take something more similar to an organic brain. Not just something that “remembers” information to appear “smart”, but something that can thing, that can create new ideas on its own.

It’s like the age old topic of computers playing chess (which has long been considered a good test of artificial intelligence). Today’s computers can beat any human at chess. Even a cheap off-the-shelf laptop purchased at Walmart and running the latest version of Stockfish can beat the strongest Grandmasters (and today’s top Grandmasters are some of the strongest players in history). A computer running a chess engine like Stockfish, however, is just a brute force calculator and cannot thing creatively. None of these computer chess programs could ever have come up with, for example, the brilliant, beautiful sacrificial games of Mikhail Tal.

So yeah, in order to achieve true artificial sapience we’re going to have to come up with some new technology. Something that functions like an organic brain, not just a CPU that follows programming. There’s a great recent (within the last 2 or 3 years) movie called Ex Machina that’s about this very thing.

Seek's avatar

Is there some sort of test for sapience?
– I’m not really sure. Any test would be subjective based on the human experience of sapience.

Do you think other Earthlings might develop sapience (other Pokemon like us humans)?
– I think many animals come close, if they are not already there. Octopus have been demonstrated to use logic and reasoning to solve problems. Other African apes use simple hand tools for procuring food or playing games or even masturbating.

Assuming for a moment that there is a God, do you think it is both sentient and sapient? Just sentient? Perhaps not even that…?
– This question raises more questions, so I couldn’t begin to answer it. God is a hypothesis that lacks sufficient definition to subject it to testing.

Do you think it’s possible that a plant could achieve sapience?
– I’m not certain. As far as I’m aware, sapience is a byproduct of brain development. It has never been demonstrated that plants contain any process that is brain-like, so any potential sapience or sentience in a plant would be the result of a much different mechanism than we’ve ever seen.

If you had to choose, in a moment which would affect the rest of your life, between being sapient and not, what would you choose? Same question, but for both sapience and sentience?
– I would absolutely choose sapience and sentience. Without those, the “me” that is here wouldn’t exist, and existence is far better than non-existence.

Do you believe we can create a machine which is sapient?
– I think it’s bound to happen eventually, and will likely have disastrous consequences. Maybe I just read too much science fiction.

What do you think of the proposal that the universe as a whole is sapient…? A thinking, reasoning, feeling universe.
– Again, a question that raises too many questions, none of which can be quantitatively answered. What does the word “think” mean, when applied to the Universe? By what mechanism does a Universe “feel”?

Regardless of your answer, assume for a moment that it is. What part of its sapience do you as an individual represent (be as literal or abstract as you like, here)?
– This is a question for the poets, and I haven’t been one of those in a very long time.

Bill1939's avatar

The distinction between subjective and objective experience and perception is not black and white, but a continuum in which grey predominates. Thought and action is seldom wholly objective and understanding and insight seldom wholly subjective. Both coexist. The spectrum of sentience to sapience is their ratio. The definition of sapience in “Wikipedia”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisdom#Sapience is somewhat different from what is given in this question. “Wisdom or sapience is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight.”

“Sentience”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentience, on the other hand is defined as “the capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively. Eighteenth-century philosophers used the concept to distinguish the ability to think (reason) from the ability to feel (sentience). In modern Western philosophy, sentience is the ability to experience sensations (known in philosophy of mind as ‘qualia’). In Eastern philosophy, sentience is a metaphysical quality of all things that requires respect and care.”

… In the philosophy of consciousness, sentience can refer to the ability of any entity to have subjective perceptual experiences, or as some philosophers refer to them, ‘qualia’. This is distinct from other aspects of the mind and consciousness, such as creativity, intelligence, [wisdom or] sapience, self-awareness, and intentionality (the ability to have thoughts about something). Sentience is a minimalistic way of defining consciousness, which is otherwise commonly collectively, describes sentience plus other characteristics of the mind.”

Wisdom is knowledge with understanding. Assuming the existence of an omniscient deity, not only will it have both, its sentience and sapience will be synonymous. However, most conceive of deities as being transcendent, therefore, any ascribed qualities are irrelevant.

Given its vastness, sentient/sapient beings must exist in many places in the universe. They likely will evolve socially along distinctively different paths, aspects of which would not relate to our own. Current technological limitations make communication over their distance impossible.

Consider that our perspective on what is the experience of sensation, thought and emotion may not apply to other species. Creatures we observe seem to have behaviors suggesting intellect and emotion, yet many wish to reject this conclusion; those that appear different are presumed inferior.

We have problems communicating with each other and with the other living creatures on earth including, as you intimated, plants. They can communicate with each of their kind and secondhand with others; feedback stabilizes an ecosystem. Obviously, communing with our imaginary aliens would be more difficult. Just as with our deity, they may transcend our notion of sentience and sapience having merged them.

If, as I suggest, sentiency and sapience are intertwined, their proportion changes over time and the ratio at any instant is information that does not predict the ratio at a previous or future instance, and therefore except when we give them meaning they are meaningless.

Before we can create a sapient machine, we will need to understand better how our minds work. Our emotions are biomechanical responses that qualify and quantify the importance of an experience, delineating its relative goodness and badness. However, designing a mechanistic equivalent is currently beyond our ability.

We can program Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics” into a machine; a robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; a robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law; a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws. However, without the subjectively of an emotional filter to resolve perturbations arising from conflicting potential actions the machine would cease functioning.

From the beginning to the end of time, the cosmos exists without the need for either sentience or sapience. Qualities like consciousness cannot be ascribed to the ongoing creative force. As much as some seek a creator with the capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively with the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight, such attributes are wholly human.

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