Page 1 of 1 [ 10 posts ] 

Griff
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 16 Nov 2006
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,615

15 May 2007, 10:38 am

Humans.

I will tell you this right off: we were impressive in our own right. In spite of rumors to the contrary, humans are physically well-adapted. We can climb nearly sheer faces bare-handed, we are excellent swimmers unlike most of our brother primates, we can tirelessly track prey for miles over a variety of terrain at a brisk walk, and we can go for several days without water, weeks on limited water, nearly a month without food, and all but indefinitely on short rations. We store excess calories on our bodies as fat, making it possible for us to survive long winters limited in resources, and we have long, nimble limbs with which we can easily subdue even a larger and more powerful predator by deftly shoving a fist down its throat. Furthermore, it is no matter if our diet wears down our teeth, for we have large, weed-like teeth growing at the back of our jaws adapted specifically for crunching through dense bone. Although our skin looks frail and burns easily in the sun, we have the unique adaptation of hair on our heads that just grows and grows and grows, staying rooted for incredible lengths of time, making a very handy buffer against damage from sun or cold; failing that, however, some members of our species have very superior melanin content in their skin, which acts as an added buffer against solar radiation and certain diseases. As if that is not enough, we have sturdy and flexible immune systems that make us uniquely adapted for surviving a nomadic lifestyle, and we can shrug off injuries that would be grievious for other species. Those nimble digits, if broken, can be forced back into position, and bones and be set and healed. Most remarkable of all, perhaps, is the range of foods that we can derive nutrients from with our incredibly versatile and efficient digestive systems, allowing us to exist and thrive in almost any ecosystem as long as we can get enough calories.

Those digits are incredible, little things, though. They certainly play a goodly role in our ability to climb and swim, and they are adept at picking and sorting through carcasses for the more nourishing and portable bits of meat. What we think really makes them remarkable, however, is what is possible when a powerful, calculating, measuring, innovating brain is put in control of them. Such a brain would be pretty resource-intensive, but this is no problem for a creature as remarkably adept at finding food as a human. After all, the brain requires little other than glucose, which is rarely truly in short supply for a creature that can digest practically anything. Failing glucose, the most uniquely "thinking" parts of our brain have a backup energy supply. Structurally, we were hit with a great fortune by having a very sturdy, nearly spherical skull mounted upon a flexible neck, which, working together, are very effective in protecting this system from injury from shock. This is a good thing for a modern human, for it is our most prized and treasured adaptation. It has given us the ability to use tools and communicate through language.

Even without our modern technology, our deft fingers, working at the instruction of these remarkable, expensive brains, can weave baskets and packs from vegetation or sinew, allowing us to carry tools and resources over incredible distances. With a sturdy backpack woven from various materials, a human could travel for months over barren terrain without feeling want or need. If we wanted to travel over tundra, we'd merely need to drape ourselves in the skins of our kills, cleaned and adapted specifically for this use. To assist us in getting food and resources for our products, we can create crude spears with which to harpoon fish or, more remarkably, take down an animal several times our weight and capable of feeding and sheltering a whole tribe for months. For warmth on the tundra, we merely need to gather wood and strike stones together for a fire. In spite of what you may have been told, our primitive ancestors could live long lives in the lap of luxury under ideal conditions. Many of them did, after all, have the unusual luxury of having time to pursue art, music, and celebration. If we didn't have the luxury of time, after all, how would we have had the time to whittle out cunning, little combinations of markings in which to store complex information? The advent of written language is, perhaps, the surest proof of the superiority of our "primitive" ancestors.

Now, information is an important part of the brain. Before you laugh, consider memory. With memory, we can recall images, sounds, and experiences. With associative memory, we can sort out relationships between one thing and another without having to immediately observe them. Now, what I am about to suggest may be a little bit radical for some of you, so be open-minded. What I submit is that, when we developed our system of writing, we created an artificial extension of our brains. With our system of writing, we gave ourselves memories that could travel far beyond our presence, to be handed down for generations and generations. With our system of writing, we created a dimension of thought that would have been impossible without it. We don't have to memorize lengthy lists of instructions for creating a particular tool and pass the instructions along by oral tradition (which is a marvel in itself). We merely need to commit the instructions for making these tools to writing, and then anyone who has access to the writing can have the "memory" of how it was created. When we created our system of writing, we became superior creatures to what we were before.

Now picture yourself solving a volley of mathematical problems without a calculator. Theoretically, you could teach yourself how to do them mentally, but this would be time and energy-intensive, and it would monopolize your mental resources for no good reason. Instead, whip out your calculator, input the the numbers, and solve. Personally, I inherited from my grandfather a queer talent for solving them mentally, but using the calculator frees me up to think about other things. For example, instead of using that weird talent to crunch numbers, I can put together silly ideas such as this: the calculator you just used to solve those simple math problems was acting as an extension of your brain. For the moment that you were using it, calculator and brain were one, passing information between one another and rendering a result. Man and machine were one. You are doing the same thing if you are using this lovely innovation we call a "composition book" to craft a novel, diary or essay: without a way to record your information and sketch out your ideas, it would be most difficult for you to put together a truly unified and meaningful work. With calculator or composition book, you are using our technology to help you think. Wait, though: not only do you use technology to help you think, but this beautiful, glorious technology has made us the fastest creatures in the world, taking us well past the speed of sound and, one day, to the stars.

Mankind's relationship with technology is one as necessary and essential as the relationship between certain species of termites and the towers they build for protection and shelter. It isn't just something that we created. It is a part of us. Your car is as meaningful and essential to your form, during a commute, as your two legs. The cities that we have built aren't an intrusion upon nature. They are a part of our nature; it is no less unnatural for cities to overtake the rainforest than for jungle to overwhelm our cities, and, under the foot of an elephant, a termite mound may crumble to dust. Of course, we don't WANT our cities to overtake the jungle altogether. As tasteful and aesthetically inclined creatures, we want to preserve it. Besides, we still rely upon the jungle for the control of our climate, so our welfare is just as dependent upon its welfare as the welfare of technology is upon the welfare of Man. Well, at least this is the case for now. Let us hope that our technology has the same aesthetic value for us as we have for the rest of nature.



Awesomelyglorious
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 17 Dec 2005
Gender: Male
Posts: 14,316
Location: Omnipresent

15 May 2007, 1:56 pm

So, we are glorious and with technology we become even more so? Ok, I agree.



Griff
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 16 Nov 2006
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,615

15 May 2007, 3:06 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
So, we are glorious and with technology we become even more so?
Well, yes, but I'm also curious about the consequences of replacing deteriorating parts of our bodies and, eventually, our brains with artificial parts. If we were to simply replace our organic parts as they broke down, would we still be human, or would we be AI? Perhaps this would be for the best, though. Instead of having to figure out how to keep human bodies alive over vast, interstellar distances, it would be much more efficient to leave traversing those vast distances to AI. It would use far fewer resources, and it would be much safer. If we were really all that emotionally attached to organic life, we could merely store our genome on a computer chip and synthesize new embryonic stem cells out of raw materials there. I don't see a single reason for biological humans to even set foot off the planet again, come to think of it. If we can develop AI that think and feel as humans do, let them spelunk about in vacuum if that's their pleasure. Getting an unmanned spacecraft into orbit is so cheap, a handful of upper middle-class families could finance it with little effort. Making room for a human-emulating AI would hardly be more difficult if we could just get the information technology energy-efficient and compact enough. If anyone's worried about the AI taking over, we could always take the simple measure of having the Earth declared a "nature reserve." It's not like AI need an atmosphere to survive; in fact, they'd find it cumbersome. They'd be far more comfortable importing mass from space rocks that have negligible gravitational pull. I can't think of a single further reason to send humans into space once we've built an AI we could persuade to go up and do it for us.



earthdweller
Pileated woodpecker
Pileated woodpecker

User avatar

Joined: 30 Aug 2006
Gender: Male
Posts: 197

15 May 2007, 10:54 pm

It should all start with the technological utilization of DNA and its evolution functions then nanomolecular mechanics.



Griff
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 16 Nov 2006
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,615

16 May 2007, 1:56 pm

Well, I was thinking more in terms of the possibility of us being devoured by our own technology, not as a result of losing control of it but as a result of losing ourselves to it. It's fine and well for us to have anthropomorphic AI and practically unlimited lifespans, but it would be a bit of a faustian bargain if we sacrificed genus homo in order to have it. Or would it? This is more or less what I am getting at. What I argue is that, if we accept our technology as part of ourselves, then preserving the natural human life cycle would be a practice akin to preserving endangered species.



earthdweller
Pileated woodpecker
Pileated woodpecker

User avatar

Joined: 30 Aug 2006
Gender: Male
Posts: 197

17 May 2007, 3:39 am

I'm sure that an advanced intelligence as it is being beyond anyone human would agree with you at your level of reasoning.



skafather84
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Age: 34
Gender: Male
Posts: 11,156
Location: New Orleans, LA

17 May 2007, 5:31 am

i think most people are technophobes and create ghosts to be scared of because everyone loves to be scared (if you don't buy into this idea, check how well horror movies do regardless of how stupid the plot is). so....be willing to accept technology....always be skeptical of the intentions and its applications...but never be scared of the technology itself...even if it exceeds your own comprehension (this illogical path of thinking is what leads to accusations of witchcraft and other such skulduggery). and...please...people...quit being intellectually lazy. this is how we end up with morons like george w bush in office. regardless of your political standings when someone who runs for "commander in chief" creates a commander in chief office (war czar)...you know that bastard is lazy and is just passing the buck on to someone else....be smart. work hard (work smart). hurt your brain (stretching it to grasp new concepts...not because you're trying to get why britney spears is popular).



earthdweller
Pileated woodpecker
Pileated woodpecker

User avatar

Joined: 30 Aug 2006
Gender: Male
Posts: 197

17 May 2007, 6:17 am

I once posted that I was very much interested in the possibilites abound with A.I

Thus, I also am interested in the evolution of technology: A.I and post-humanism.
Technology has already transformed our lives.

But its difficult for me to keep track of it much.

Skafatehr84, I am not wanting to doubt you because I am showing respect towards Griffs' answer towards the skeptisms of evolution.

It is inherit in our brains' and among other things inherant to invent new technology. Our severe curiosity seems best suitable for advancement of our species. Its probably who we are to strive to dominant and enhance ourselves just as we have made an evolution through the information explosion and technological discoveries we have to today and in the near future.

But what is the future? It could be as near as into the present moment with our own idealogies of how suitable we are to survive the way that we would like to. The future also seems to be just one step ahead of the minds' of our current techologists when it exists in our special abilities to reason it beyond that ahead of our time.



Kosmonaut
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 14 Sep 2006
Gender: Male
Posts: 3,886

17 May 2007, 6:39 am

well i dunno i stopped reading after Humans. :lol:
but i think technology is a good thing.
this is the correct answer. what do i win ?



earthdweller
Pileated woodpecker
Pileated woodpecker

User avatar

Joined: 30 Aug 2006
Gender: Male
Posts: 197

17 May 2007, 7:14 am

I understand. I really think I do for that its our asperger "symptoms" that drive us insane, making us longing for our need to escape the NT's etc...

Evolution has a lot more meaning as well because its just made up to represent stuff in our minds :P

The universe is "God", right? And the universe has all the possibilites that our minds' take that it follows the only laws and realities that we perceive of it.

But the whole system is WAY ABOVE in order than us, isn't it? We were created by the universe. So I feel comfortable being only human rather than having the delusion that I am being defeated by the universe. I am here because I was created by the universe or that I am the universe: just an extremely small fraction and so small it is uncomprehensible.

But, you know, I never want anyone to suffer over something like that - to worry worry worry how fit we are for survival. How 'bout leave that to Darwin? :wink:

You're all loved and respected by people that care.