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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The world awaits the Olympics to kick off

first_imgThe last few hours before the world’s biggest sporting spectacle begins is always filled with tension and suspense.And as the city of London gives final touches to its seven-year-long preparation before the Olympics opening ceremony on Friday night, everyone wishes the Games are peaceful and each of the 304 sporting events is fought in the right spirit.Gone are the days when the extravaganza called Olympic opening ceremony was kept as a secret. It has become almost a tradition now for other countries to spy on the drama that will unfold in those three hours plus.Glitz, glamour, light and sound, all that will go into the opening ceremony being directed by Danny Boyle has already been detailed. But there can still be a huge suspense as what the world will finally see through live TV signals can be different.The weather in London has been pleasant after an incredibly wet summer. The sun has been shining the last few days, which means the locals can wear bare minimum clothes.Four years ago, when Beijing wanted to show the world its sporting might and ability to organise a high voltage opening ceremony, they wanted to fire ‘rockets’ in the air to disperse the clouds!In London, no such thing has been planned and whatever nature decides will be accepted. The big problem for LOCOG, organisers of the London Olympics, is who will light the Olympic flame.Lord Sebastian Coe, head of LOCOG told Mail Today on Thursday who will light the torch is still undecided. From the man on the streets to social media like Twitter, there has been intense speculation.advertisementFive-time Olympic gold medallist rower Steve Redgrave and decathlete Daley Thompson are touted as favourites but Kelly Holmes, winner of the 800m and 1500 m in Athens, 2004, could also got a look in. But don’t be surprised if the organisers decide that more than one top former British athlete gets to do the honours.After the opening ceremony, it will be 15 days of pulsating action where riveting rivalries in track and field and swimming have already attracted attention, aroused interest and instilled desire.Usain Bolt vs Yohan Blake in the 100m and 200m and Michael Phelps vs Ryan Lochte in the swimming pool are events which the world is waiting for. Contests of these nature are played out only once every four years which is what the Olympics is all about.Looking at the global rivalries, the way China has grown as a sporting giant will be watched with interest. In the Beijing Olympics, China topped the medal tally with 51 gold, 21 silver and 28 bronze for an aggregate of 100 medals. The United States of America was second with 36 gold, 38 silver and 36 bronze while Russia were third.As the hosts, Britan will look to enhance its image as a serious sporting superpower. In Beijing , their tally did swell to 19 gold, 15 silver and 15 bronze for an aggregate of 47 medals.It is gold medals which matter the most and Britain will hope that its newest stars like Wimbledon runner-up Andy Murray and Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins can fire their chances.Well before then opening ceremony, there have been a few goof-ups. At the women’s football event, a wrong flag of South Korea was shown to the North Koreans causing the match against Colombia to be delayed by an hour.Even though the organisers had to apologise to the North Koreans, it has already left people wondering what more gaffes are in store.For sheer precision and punctuality, what Beijing did as a host city was almost machine like. For London to hold a glitch-free Games will not be asking for too much despite a dip in their economy.The host nation is hoping that the Olympics will boost its economy, but each host has only been counting deficits at the end of the Games.And what about India’s chances at the London Olympics? There is an air of expectancy that this time around India can win more medals than the three at Beijing.In archery, shooting, wrestling, badminton, boxing and even mixed doubles, there are medal chances.Feats of Abhinav Bindra, Ronjan Sodhi, Deepika Kumari, Saina Nehwal, Vijender and the new boxing breed plus the wrestlers raise huge hopes. So does MC Mary Kom who represents India as women’s boxing makes its debut.With adequate government funding and the corporates also chipping in well now, Indian sport should do well. After all, post Beijing, the medal haul at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the Guangzhou Asian Games did show an improvement.advertisementGone are the days when the Indian athletes competed in the Olympics just to mark their presence. The new age heroes believe in themselves and are ready to surprise the world.last_img read more

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