Are plants conscious?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Musika, Mar 26, 2018.

  1. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    No. Its only to the benefit of the owner or manufacturerof the car. If they perceive a benefit in damaging the car (staging insurance claims or testing safety features for example), the car obliges just as equally when they both perceive a benefit in not damaging the car.

    You are assuming that the car wants to go anywhere in the first place. Assuming maintenance and efficiency and damage control are its priorities, it would adopt the behaviour of vintage car owner (idle for about an hour and do a lap or two of the block once or twice a week).
    Once again, if the car is but a transparent medium to your priorities, regardless of whether they are to go around the block or the commute trip from hell, this is exactly what you would expect.
    The problem is that the protocols benefit first and foremost (and only) the owner (or manufacturer). Anything else is but a secondary consequence of serving this primary requirement.


    The cars experiences are dictated by your requirements (as collated by the manufacturer by examining your behaviour). The car displays more adaptive behaviour than your shoes only in that a second party is assisting you in moving about in it more efficiently.

    Yes, if it keeps up, the ceo (although probably just getting a fine or kicked out on the grounds of professional negligence) or tech advisor. It really depends on how savvy their legal team is and how high profile their accidents become. Imagine if the victim was a woman with a pram walking slowly over a pedestrian crossing in broad daylight ... or if the culprit was found to be misanthropic nutcase on the tech team, secretly incorporating homicidal software into the build.

    Actually there is a debate on at the moment about the legal consequences of ai in a car being forced to make a decision on either to jeopardise the safety of a passenger or the safety of a pedestrian (in the case of swerving into a brick wall to avoid hitting someone). Some technical professionals have expressed their personal reluctance to work in this field until this legal conundrum is resolved (there is something about being potentially on the receiving end of a multi million dollar lawsuit several years down the track that dampens any employee incentives that may be on offer).

    One thing everyone can agree on (recalcitrant sciforums posters aside), however, is that the benefit of the car (whether it comes out with more or less or complete damage) has zero weight in understanding the merits and pitfalls of that scenario.
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  3. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    Yes, we have a nurture side .... but then we also have a nature side.

    The problem is that you are dealing with something that has no nature. So you can only manage something with a dissemblance of intelligence (based on your own nature). You may be able to write a program that can potentially compose praiseworthy or criticical articles about Justin Beiber performances, ... but does the ai actually like or dislike the performance? Or does the value of either liking or disliking it lie with you?
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  5. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    AI may not have sentient experiences, but plants do. Heliotropism (movement towards light) is but one of them.
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  7. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    I think you are making this judgement based on the limited capabilities of present technology, but I think it's a matter of degree not kind. If a computer could have memories of past experience, develop a set of likes and dislikes, create a stream of conscious thought, have a sense of self, then what would the real difference be?
  8. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    You would have a nature instead of a hard drive .... but since we are talking about hard drives, so ....
  9. billvon Valued Senior Member

    So cars do not benefit by avoiding being destroyed? What an odd claim. Does that apply to trees and animals as well? After all, someone could be desiring to collect on a life insurance policy - and if the person in question was unconscious, they will oblige by allowing themselves to be killed.
    Just as you assume the driver wants to go somewhere in the first place, and is not just reacting to potentials in his neurons, or the imperatives in his genes.
    Right. And the driver who says he wants to drive to work is actually being driven by his genes; passing on his genes is the only evolutionary imperative. Anything else is a secondary consequence of this primary imperative - and therefore not significant.
    My shoes are not autonomous. My car is; it can act on its own. There is a difference there.
    I've heard about this, but it's already been solved by aircraft autopilot manufacturers. Aircraft autopilots, for example, might have to decide whether to crash-land in a parking lot full of people (thus killing the people in the lot and potentially saving the people in the plane) or crashing into a mountain (thereby saving the people in the parking lot.)
  10. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    I don't.
    I am just trying to understand what you mean by saying cause and effect may or may not be necessary (whether you mean that is just an inherent limitation of empiricism as an epistemology or if there is a fundamental nature to existence that stands outside of relationships of necessity).

    The inputs being what we see as going in compared to what we see coming out? Or does it involve something greater than our seeing?

    Does it obscure the fundamentals, or does it obscure our vision in tracing them?

    Fundamentals are "obscured" at the points of both macro and micro. This is the problem with bringing empiricism to problems of cosmology, consciousness, etc, as explained by the article.

    I'm not sure you understand. If you insist on access to the backdoor of "even if you prove me wrong, its because at this point in time we don't have enough information to prove I'm right", what would an anomaly in your world view look like?

    If you want to say that the problems of reducing life to necessary laws exist simply because our vision of fundamentals are obscured, how is that not you backdooring out of the problem?

    With such a world view with a built in back door, how is it possible to even introduce a problem?

    Once again, this is not trolling. It is a genuine question.
  11. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    But owners and manufacturers may or may not, according to their priorities.

    I'm not sure that makes sense. Killing one's self to receive a million dollars? What would they plan on spending it on?

    Except in the case of the car I don't have to rely on an argument where observing the fundamentals that dictate (apparent) choice are necessarily obscured.

    Ditto above.
    Except moreso.

    The difference is that your shoes don't require feedback from 2nd (software) and 3rd parties (manufacturer) to assist you in your travels. I'm pretty sure if there are sufficient reserves of disposable income and stupidity, "autonomous" shoes will also come on the market.
    "Autonomous" or not, it's all about what you want to do with your money and where you want to go (although it is conceivable that societies could legislate autonomous cars at some point due to the ever increasing dreadful driving skills of it's citizens).

    Is there a legal precedent for this?
    Not sure when the last autopiloted plane implemented the protocol to crash into a mountain over a carpark was .... but even if driverless technology can reduce car crashes by 75% (figure I pulled out of thin air), one can still expect to hear about them several times a day (assuming they are credited as being newsworthy).

    Its not clear that the legal framework will transition from the airline to the automobile industry so smoothly, simply due to the different hazard levels of their respective environments. Not just that a car is the thick of it with more obstacles to avoid (ie a higher incidence for crashes) , but the notion of crashing a plane into a car park or a mountain (or anywhere outside of an airport for that matter) to save the passengers is much of a muchness. Actually one has to wonder whether the data to safely crash a plane outside an airport is more about the aftermath of 9-11, than some reliable figure of casualties sustained. Also in the case of plane crashes, there could be a nefarious element of working out the figure on the bottom line. Crashing into urban environments with a plane is expensive.

    Regardless, I'm pretty sure the relatives of any future ai induced crash fatalities will not be appeased by the airline solution and lawyer up appropriately.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
  12. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Did (plants) primary producers intentionally breed us to consume their waste product?
  13. billvon Valued Senior Member

    No; killing someone else to make a million dollars.

    You are arguing that since a car's being totaled can (and often does) benefit someone else, there is no benefit to the car to not being destroyed. If that argument holds, then a person being killed can benefit someone else, so there is no benefit to the person who would avoid death.

    (Doesn't really work, does it.)
    So what? You require third party information (maps) or prerecorded information (your memory of someone else driving the route) to assist someone else in their travels. That does not mean you are not conscious.
    Nope, nor have they needed one. Yet pretty much every part-121 airliner in the skies of the US today has an autopilot that is capable (and often does) fly the plane from brake release to touchdown.
    And I have never heard of a case where a car chose to kill one person over another. Nor do I think I ever will. It's not a decision people make, and it won't be a decision cars have to make.
    The airlines have seen plenty of lawsuits too concerning the reliability of their hardware, so that won't be new either.

    The point of the above is not that "airlines are just like cars." It is that the "trolley problem" is not really a problem for planes _or_ cars - although people seem to enjoy debating it immensely.
  14. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    My argument is the car's destruction, preservation or anything in between is thoroughly encapsulated by the needs, interests and concerns of the manufacturers and consumers. Indicating a car in any state reflects those interests.

    If the map or memory of someone's driving would overide you and forcibly dictate your movements, then no, you would not be conscious (or at least it would be impaired, to the degree that you had some other remaining conscious faculties ... maybe you could shriek "Help! The map has taken control of my brain!", while you run off into the distance).

    I thought you were talking about ai choosing mountainsides over packed car parks as an emergency landing site?
    Have you got a source for this "mountainside protocol"?
    It's starting to sound more dubious the more you talk about it.
    Well we do have the Uber example. I was just curious about a practical example of an autopilot function on a plane employing it's "mountainside protocol". From what I read, it's always about the pilot making some decision about the lesser of evils.

    If Uber can continue to maintain the star trek like legal speed for paying out surviving relatives, perhaps you never will.

    However, the notion arises more from the impasse commonly experienced in courtrooms or forensic accident presentations to work out accountability (or even insurance). So, in the case of a fatality, a person may say "I hit the brick wall to avoid the pedestrian" or "I hit the pedestrian because of the brick wall." Either way, the manufacturer is not involved.

    But if you have programming that dictates a necessary bias to either the occupant or a pedestrian, you have a path of liability opened up to the manufacturer.

    I leave it to you to decide whethetr Uber made a hasty out of court settlement with the victim's family out of the goodness of their heart or to avoid court proceedings which would establish a legal precedent which would make rolling out the technology more problematic than it is already.

    If airlines started seeing a rate of bingle courtroom proceedings on par with automobiles (even driverless automobiles), they would be untenable as a business (or the legal and financial industry would have to morph into something else).

    You can't unify everything under the umbrella of a "trolley problem" given that they operate in vastly different environments of hazard, accountability and finance.
  15. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    The concept of creating an imperative of "movement in the direction of greatest parsimony" is the big Gorilla to tackle.
    If we can duplicate nature by giving "sentient emotional motive" to a machine, we will have solved the problem, IMO

    I have no doubt that plants possess emotional awareness, somewhere between purely mechanical functional processes and true sentient experience of parsimony. They respond to the regular changes of day, night, seasons, soils, i.e. select the most hospital parts of earth for their kind.
    While most of this is probabilistic (depending on seeding location), it also has been shown that soft and harmonious music is instrumental to growth and fertility in plants. Sentience?

    Insects already possess the ability to form societies via the hive mind and practice horticulture, husbandry, and masonry for building airconditioned shelters, such as termites, ants, bees.

    The emotional displays of love and care abound in mammals, especially in rearing their young.

    Can we abstract these qualities and simulate them in AI, or is it necessesary to introduce bio-chemistry into the equation?
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
  16. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    You have equated, when I asked, "necessary laws of cause and effect" with determinism.
    I am simply allowing that the universe may not be deterministic.
    The inputs and outputs are what they are, at the level of atoms and lower.
    If we rely on simple observation then we limit what we consider, and all we can do is make up explanations in accordance with what we see in terms of what we see.
    But this does not alter what is going on at that lower level of complexity, where atoms interact with atoms.
    And my view is that they interact in the same way whether we are talking biology or physics, for example.
    Or do you think biology / life brings something different to the table, other than complexity?

    As said, if all you are talking about with "cause" and "effect" are those causes that we can see and be aware of, that is a separate matter entirely and merely one of convenience of language.
    And if you do then you can not claim to be stepping outside the necessary laws of cause and effect when you are in effect changing what those words apply to.
    It obscures our ability to perceive them.
    When we look at a brick, we see a brick and not what actually makes the brick.
    Our perception is of the brick, not the more basic constituents, and thus I say our ability to perceive those basic consitituents is obscured.
    And when you then consider a dynamic system at work rather than the more static nature of a brick...
    If you agree they are obscured then how can you possibly claim that when we move to higher degrees of complexity we can step outside of what is going on at the lower levels, in as much as those laws are applicable to the fundamental levels of complexity?
    If you can't see what I look like in the morning, how can you say other than through blind faith that I look different in the evening?
    No, if you prove me wrong then it is because I am wrong.
    One can not prove both the claim and the opposite correct.
    But you haven't yet provided even one example.
    I am offering the alternative to your claim.
    If you can not falsify the alternative then how on earth can you claim your position to be correct?
    Personally I go with what I find to be more rational: the laws apply to the basic levels of complexity, and there is no convincing justification to assume that they do not also apply to the more complex.
    Then you tell me, since your claim suffers the same ailment as claims of the alternative.

    Personally, as suggested, you move away from talking about how consciousness allows you to "step outside" the laws of cause and effect that apply to the micro level.
    Since you are no longer referring to the micro level when you are talking about consciousness, etc, then you can not say we step outside them, only that our perception of causes and effects take on different notions, words which no longer apply to the basic level of interaction but to interactions between complex systems.

    It is in effect equivocation of the terms between the two levels.
    Or do you seriously think that the laws of cause and effect, as applicable to the basic levels of interactions, do not remain the same?
  17. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    And is complexity even necessary or is it a matter of specialization of a specific ability, such as touch, vision, hearing, taste, sensitivity to specific EM wavelengths. Except for touch, all these specialized abilities come from external sources, but trigger a fight or flight or food or sexual response. To me this sounds very much like awareness of the environment and a triggering of motor responses. Is that not the definition of "sentience" from rudimentary responses to abstract thoughts.?
  18. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Even an amoeba is complex compared to its consituent molecules and atoms.
    When you start considering senses then you're possibly just talking degrees of what is already complex.
    Define "thought"?
    How would you tell if an entity is actually experiencing rather than just reacting?
    A camera might automatically adjust its aperture settings to the local light level, thus being "aware" of its environment and triggering a motor response.
    Is this what you wish to consider "sentience"?
  19. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Correct , at waht point does an oranism awarenand responsive to ecternal stimuli?
    Perhaps a "link" in the evolution of neural networks?. A whole system neural netwok which is not locally responsive but have the fledgling brains to process information in a central location.
    Evolutionary that would be efficient and advantageous.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
  20. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    For the third time:
    The moment it is alive.

    Responsivity to external stimuli is a requirement for life:

    Google search 'What are the requirements for life?' First bullet, first hit:
    • responsiveness to the environment;

    Which means, if you equate responsiveness with sentience, you are saying life and sentience are synonymous.
    Write4U likes this.
  21. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    Yes. Now take those synthesized chemicals that life uses and arrange them exactly as they are arranged in living things - i.e. cells, etc. Now how do you distinguish the thing you've made from "living things"?

    My question is, "Do you think there's some magical "spark" that differentiates living things from non-living things?
  22. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    I think I missed the part where you demonstrated arranging the chemicals exactly as they appear in living things, ie a cell
  23. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    I asked you how you would tell the difference.

    Again, my question is, "Do you think there's some magical "spark" that differentiates living things from non-living things?

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