Intelligence as a Cosmic Reality

first_imgThe “I” in SETI takes “Intelligence” seriously.  It requires that intelligence is a recognizable, quantifiable property of nature.  The origin of intelligence is a question that separates theists from materialists – whether it is a fundamental or emergent property.  Before engaging that question, it might be instructive to see how scientists who are not necessarily theists are regarding it.SETI protocol:  The Arecibo Message beamed to the stars in 1974 was a binary encoded stream of bits.  Subsequent messages have included graphical depictions of humans, and catalogs of human science and art.  PhysOrg recalled those attempts at communication with other intelligences and asked what would be the most likely protocol that aliens would recognize as intelligent on the receiving end.  This is the study of METI: messaging to extra-terrestrial intelligence.    METI includes considerations of how to maximize communication effectively at the lowest cost.  What good would an engraving of human forms be for aliens without eyes?  An international team, PhysOrg reported, considered factors like “signal encoding, message length, information content, anthropocentrism, transmission method, and transmission periodicity” for an upcoming report in Space Policy.  Their current recommendation is to concentrate on “short, simple messages with minimal anthropocentrism, and which rely on simple physical or mathematical language….”    “The scientists also emphasize that searching for and attempting to communicate with extraterrestrials is as much about understanding ourselves as it is about finding aliens,” the press release continued.  We need, in other words, to understand human intelligence.  The only way we have to calibrate a test message, though, is to try it on other human beings with other cultures and languages.  Whatever they decide to send for the next broadcast from Earth, they must assume intelligence is real at both the sending and receiving end.Universal intelligence:  Science Daily expanded the concept with an article, “On the hunt for universal intelligence.”  The question is, “How do you use a scientific method to measure the intelligence of a human being, an animal, a machine or an extra-terrestrial?”  To plumb that question, Spanish and Australian AI researchers (artificial intelligence) devised a new intelligence test to replace the historic Turing Test that Allan Turing developed in 1950 to demonstrate intelligence in machines.  Their new “Anytime Universal Intelligence” test that “can be applied to any subject – whether biological or not – at any point in its development (child or adult, for example), for any system now or in the future, and with any level of intelligence or speed.”  Their model measures Kolmogorov Complexity, “the number of computational resources needed to describe an object or a piece of information,” yet they admit this is a first step in an ongoing evaluation of intelligence.Language efficiency:  Philip Ball at Nature News reported on a new proposal in linguistics at MIT theorizing that longer words carry more information.  In contrast to a 1930-era model by George Kingsley Zipf that language speakers seek to minimize time and effort when speaking, Steven Piantadosi and colleagues propose that “to convey a given amount of information, it is more efficient to shorten the least informative – and therefore the most predictable – words, rather than the most frequent ones.”  While not speaking of intelligence directly, this article overlaps with the means of communication between intelligent agents.  The words informative and predictable presuppose intelligences able to discriminate those factors using abstract reasoning.Mind matters:  At the threshold of mind and matter, neuroscientists continue to probe how intelligence is mediated by the physical brain.  PhysOrg reported on experiments at the University of Sydney’s Centre for the Mind that seemed to indicate electrical stimulation of the anterior temporal lobe produced “flashes of insight” that might lead to an “electronic thinking cap” some day.  Neuroscientists at New York University found, according to Science Daily, that memory storage and reactivation is “more complex than thought.”  Experiments on lab rats showed that “different effects of specifically inhibiting the initiation of protein synthesis on memory consolidation and reconsolidation, making clear these two processes have greater variation than previously thought.”    Memory, however is a tool of mind, not mind itself – if the distinction is more than academic.  No SETI researcher, however, is expecting lab rats to attempt purposeful communication with alien civilizations.  If memory is more complex than thought, thought is also more complex than memory.Intelligence is a concept that overlaps the fringes of many sciences.  Researchers in neuroscience, artificial intelligence, linguistics, information theory, cryptography, SETI and communications all assume intelligence is real, but like life, have a difficult time defining it (01/16/2011).  While using the term as applied to birds, rats, machines or aliens, there is something about human intelligence that yearns to communicate – not just for food or sex, or as a response to a stimulus or program – but for understanding at a deep level.  Is that just more of the same as observed in animals?  And can such longings, while making use of atoms (as in brain memory centers), be reduced to atoms?These are deep questions that have not been exhausted by philosophers despite millennia of trying.  But when you use your intelligence to define intelligence, or think about thinking, who is acting?  While intelligence is somewhat quantifiable in birds or dolphins or apes, our self-consciousness as beings, as persons, able to communicate and desiring communication with others, is unheard of in the animal kingdom.  Unlike bird chirps and ape grunts, we speak with meaning (semantics) using complex syntax, referring to abstractions in the conceptual realm.  We use codes and references.  We write philosophy books and symphonies with no survival value.  We can communicate the same message through entirely different physical media.    Perhaps the better question is the search for extra-terrestrial personality.  Like the fire triangle (heat, oxygen, fuel), the triad of personality – intellect, emotions, and will – lights the fire of communication as only intelligent persons experience it.  It is doubtful today’s human SETI staff would be particularly thrilled if future intelligent robots made contact with alien robots, intelligent as they might be.  Even if emotions and will were programmed into the robots, we would recognize the robots to be just carrying out the program.  Similarly, if our self-conscious intelligence is to be accepted as real as we know it to be deep in our souls, it cannot be just executing a genetic program.    If intelligence were an epiphenomenon of matter in motion, no scientist could ever know that to be true.  Truth implies morality (honesty).  If morality is also an epiphenomenon of matter in motion, the materialist soon multiplies epiphenomena upon epiphenomena, reducing his explanation to ghost stories.  The only self-consistent explanation for intelligence, personality, and truth is that they derive from a Creator who is intelligent, personal, and true: I AM.(Visited 15 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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South Africa’s oldest football club

first_imgThe camera crew paid special attention to 62-year-old Ray Bowen, one of the club’s oldest active players, tracking him during a game especially laid on for ARD. He says traditions at the club are passed down through the generations, from parents to children, and that the children are interested in the club’s history. This includes being crowned South Africa’s top amateur team in 1994, in a Smirnoff-sponsored competition that featured 12 000 club teams. Now, one of the club’s “choir masters” is a member of the younger generation. Savages had enjoyed a particularly fine year in 1993. The club’s first team won the Natal Premier League title, while its second team was crowned champion of the Premier Reserve League, underline the quality and depth in the club’s ranks. The interest from Germany came as a big surprise to club chairman Ben Hartshorne. He received a phone call from ARD on a Monday and was told they wished to film a documentary in less than a week’s time, on the Sunday. Only two days before the filming, it was confirmed. Club chairman Hartshorne says that in recent years the social aspect of the game – playing and then sharing a drink or two together afterwards – had slipped, but recently it has re-emerged, with the younger players enjoying the camaraderie when the older members sing and share their songs. Natal title Gratifying It was especially gratifying, related Hartshorne, to receive the interest because he had tried to interest Pietermaritzburg municipal officials in using Savages’ status as South Africa’s oldest club as a means to put the city on the map for the 2010 Fifa World Cup. He found no success there. In Germany, the ARD crew explained, one would usually see only one field at a football club, possibly with a bowling green also available. The Collegians’ structure was far superior to this. 24 July 2009 It’s that passing on of well-established traditions that makes Savages special and keeps it going strong. That comfortable win put the team from Pietermaritzburg into a clash with Westville for the Natal regional title. Again, Savages came out on top, and the victory carried them through to the semi-finals of the national competition. Good, fun coaching In the final, played at Olympia Park, and with the big wigs from the South African Football Association in attendance, the men from ‘Maritzburg rose to the task, with an eighth-minute strike by Ian Service putting them ahead early on. The following year, 1994 – the first year of South Africa’s democracy – Savages entered the Smirnoff competition. Previously, the club had played in a league that consisted mostly of Durban teams, as well as some from Pietermaritzburg. In the Smirnoff competition, they began in the Midlands region and, with change taking place throughout South Africa, faced clubs they had never played before. Trying to discover the age of their club, Savages members explored the archives of local newspaper The Witness and found references to the club from 1883. On television 1994 ARD got the information on Savages from the club’s website. The deciding game for the title of Midlands’ champions was played against Leicester City at Northdale Stadium, City’s home ground. Savages prevailed 2-1 in a tough contest. Later in the year, they would thrash Leicester 5-0. Having been crowned Midlands champions, Savages next took on the Northern Natal winners, Happy Hearts from Dundee. Happy Hearts took an early lead, but Savages fought back and eventually went on to a convincing 4-1 victory. They then contacted the Hilton College librarian, who produced an article about a match played between the school and Savages in August 1882. Savages won the match 3-1. Later, Service was replaced by Quinton Sahadow. It proved to be a good move, as the man known as “Shadow” struck from just inside the 18-metre box in the 70th minute to double Savages’ advantage. They went on to win 2-0. There was still some time to go before the final-four playoff, however, and the players had to keep fit from mid-October through to 12 December. They were flown to Johannesburg and then driven to Rustenburg for the clashes that would decide which club would be crowned the best amateur team in South Africa. Touch II from Ventersdorp were the favourites to lift the title; earlier in the year they had won the Sparletta Knockout Cup, also a national competition. Boksburg was expected to face Touch II in the finals, but Savages ensured that didn’t happen. Savages FC of Pietermaritzburg was recently in the news in Germany after television station ARD flew over to film a programme about the oldest football club in South Africa. The records show that Savages was active in 1882. National final Social aspect In 2004, the title-winning side enjoyed a reunion and played an exhibition game against the East Coast Radio All Stars. Not surprisingly, they ran out easy 5-1 winners. A special club day was arranged to celebrate the team’s success, and the Pietermaritzburg City Council later hosted the side at a cocktail party to thank them for putting the city on the map. Hartshorne says Savages has bucked the trend of many clubs that have faded in recent years, and is strong through all age groups – from children’s teams to fielding two sides for players over 35 years of age. The club received great support from its members on the day of filming, and the people loved it, said Hartshorne, recalling a six-year-old girl saying she couldn’t believe she was going to be on television. They beat Boksburg 3-1 on a brace of goals by Wayne Marcus and a further strike by Andy Donnell. Meanwhile, Touch II swept to a 4-1 victory over Port Elizabeth City, resulting in a second match in succession in which Savages would be the underdogs. This time around it was for the big prize. Many of the children play football at school, and this includes playing matches on Saturday mornings. In the afternoons, they turn out for Savages. This tires the youngsters out, said Hartshorne, but they stay with the club because it has good facilities, and they know that they’ll receive good, fun coaching. When the filming took place, the ARD crew said they couldn’t believe the facilities and structure available to Savages, who play out of the Pietermaritzburg Collegians Club. Collegians supports seven different sports and has excellent infrastructure, including a bar and kitchen facilities. Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

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