When is communication actually intelligent speech?

  1. Parson

    Parson This world is not my home

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    A day or so ago I was watching a documentary which dealt in passing with Prairie Dogs. They said that prairie dogs have quite an extensive array of "barks" which spoke of danger, where the danger was (air or ground) and how dangerous the threat was.

    This was quite a bit more information than I expected a prairie dog could convey and made me wonder where the line was between passing information and intelligent speech.

    Does it come when two can disagree? When one party can express something which is not physical and have the other understand? The ability to create humor?

    Just wondering especially what you S.F. author types thought about this.
     
    Mar 9, 2018
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  2. J Riff

    J Riff The Ants are my friends..

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    What is it called when they sit and yell at the TV in a coffee shop? I get a lot of that, like now. Even with headphones I gotta heaR this?
     
    Mar 9, 2018
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  3. Overread

    Overread Direwolf of the chrons

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    Terms like "intelligent speech" or "thought" as opposed to instinctive are more political than they are scientific.

    Essentially there's a huge amount of human elitism within our studies of the natural world and how "smart" animals are as well as even how self aware they are and such. It wasn't too long ago (Victorians) that many viewed animals as basically purely instinctive creatures. Where they basically just survived and bred and made babies and that was it. Only humanity transcended that pattern.

    Today we are steadily coming to a realisation that for all our intelligence we are not AS far removed from the animal kingdom than we think. Through computers and a lot of study we are only now starting to understand the complexities in animal communication, made complex by the fact that many of the sounds they make are so easy for us to ignore, some are impossible for us to hear and many are contextual or even linked to visual language.

    Even things as simple as the concept of "pain" gets debated. Studies on fish show this in that fish will react in similar ways to pain when hooked and fished; yet there's endless debate on the "point" at which these reactions are just reactions to stimulus and when it becomes "pain".


    As you can see the politics as well as religion seriously influence this area of science. So you can say that its not so much a scientific line as it is a variation on opinion and viewpoint. With that viewpoint of society changing through time (and also showing huge variation within society at any one time).
     
    Mar 9, 2018
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  4. Parson

    Parson This world is not my home

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    A bad day?

    Good points all --- Are you thinking then that we are dealing with a kind of continuum? It does seem to me that there must be a line somewhere which separates a conditioned response to a reasoned argument or a speculation about the future.
     
    Mar 13, 2018
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  5. J Riff

    J Riff The Ants are my friends..

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    A typical day. There's more and more vids of animals doing 'intelligent' things online. They save each other from drowning, or warn against or protect from crocodiles or etc. They are all brighter than people think. There was a guy. long ago, who trained a gorilla to be a waiter at his house, the butler. He did surgery so Mr. Gorilla could stand up straighter, gave him a shave, and no-one the wiser.
    There's a bird who warns Meercats when danger is near. When they find a juicy grub, Mr. bird can give the danger whistle, they drop the grub and vamoose and our bird has lunch. So much for birdbrains, this one makes certain mammals look dim.
     
    Mar 13, 2018
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  6. Overread

    Overread Direwolf of the chrons

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    There might be a "line" but I suspect there isn't so much a line as a concept of interpretation of responses and that different interpretation of those responses to stimulus could well result in variation of where the line is drawn.

    I think the increased modern division of religion and science has helped a lot in so much as a question of consciousness was once more the domain of religion than science. So even in the past when there were clear displays of animal intelligence and reasoning; the people of that day interpreted that act differently. That and the ability to record acts as well and then show behaviour faithfully to a group. No more is it left in the hands of verbal description and drawn references only (which are always suspect to forgery and even if not will show bias from the recorder of that information - of course video too cn show bias)
     
    Mar 13, 2018
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  7. Parson

    Parson This world is not my home

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    In the Middle Ages animals were often attributed with good and evil actions. Not so different than stone age views of spirit animals. I actually think I've seen more intelligence ascribed to animals in religious people than in scientific in the present day.
     
    Mar 14, 2018
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  8. Graymalkin

    Graymalkin Member

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    Not sure how current the following is but I believe some boffins see the emergence of complex language in human ancestors as parallel to increasingly successful survival strategies which led to rising population levels and greater social demands on the brain/mind.

    Decreasing reliance on physical prowess drives intellectual and social competition strategies creating a kind of psycholinguistic arms race where those individuals better able to read and manipulate their social environment will be more 'successful.'

    I think it's something like that.

    The point being, reading others requires the theory of mind which increases use of imagination for interpretation, projection, prediction and reflection to construct a narrative.

    If any of that is relevant it's also a bit dark (don't blame me I picked it up at Uni about 2000) but equally it shows how much potential freedom we have in framing our lives through construction of individual narratives.

    When is communication actually intelligent speech? Maybe it's simply the ability/compulsion to doubt oneself.
     
    Apr 2, 2018
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  9. Parson

    Parson This world is not my home

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    Sigh! That must mean that there are a good many members of the human race unable to make intelligent speech.

    But, that is an interesting idea. Does a prairie dog make a call of uncertainty? Would that even be the same thing?
     
    Apr 2, 2018
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  10. Graymalkin

    Graymalkin Member

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    Haha... Seems like certainty so often = strength and even justification.

    As mentioned earlier
    I think that's its function: to define reality in order to construct value judgements.

    So, self doubt was I think a clumsy way of suggesting that reflection, self questioning and internal dialogue are requisites for the distinction I felt you were making initially.

    Rapid call/response exchange equals and sometimes necessitates reflexive, unthinking, participation: life or death, fight or flight thinking - whereas greater deliberation, requires the luxury of more time to sift through accumulated 'truths.'

    Again, to repeat previous chrons on this thread, the idea of a distinct line between intelligent and non intelligent communication (as against speech specifically) seems unlikely. Self perception and consciousness seem relevant. But how to read/measure?

    But if it's a conscious universe isn't intelligence an intrinsic quality?

    quantumgravityresearch.org/blog/thoughts-on-the-principle-of-efficient-language
     
    Apr 2, 2018
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  11. Ursa major

    Ursa major Bearly Believable Staff Member

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    I'm remind of a nature documentary that I saw quite some time ago about a group of chimpanzees in the wild. One of the less impressive males had found (perhaps courtesy of the programme's makers) a large empty tin can (not something you'd find at the supermarket, but a cube about a foot or so on each side).

    By banging loudly on the can, the chimpanzee's status in the group seemed to improve, in that he was no longer ignored and was (literally) listened to. So chimpanzees are not at all like human beings, in this respect at least.... :rolleyes:
     
    Apr 2, 2018
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  12. Overread

    Overread Direwolf of the chrons

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    Let's not forget that it wasn't that long ago that science understood wolves to have alpha structured hierarchy. Ergo the biggest and the strongest wolf was top and others were under mostly layered in levels of strength. However it was flawed science based upon captive wolves and further study of actual wild wolves showed that the hierarchy was totally different. First off it was often more family based with leader wolves being more likely to be parents; plus there was an ever shifting dynamic within the groups including variations even day to day in who was making choices and who was following.

    The whole "alpha" mentally though caught the mind of the general population and despite efforts to shift it (interestingly by the same person who authored the alpha theory to begin with) its kind of stuck. Indeed its sort of seeped through into "general understanding" that all animals run on this alpha idea of muscle and power and strength (a viewpoint often pushed forward by people who choose to view life and approach it in this way).


    Many of these studies are limited by the fact that studying captive stock doesn't work as they often show other behaviour related to captive life (often increased stress due to confined conditions, boredom and other aspects); and study of wild stock takes a very very long time and is hard to achieve without causing disturbance (esp once you're into woodland or species that don't just sit out in the middle of a savannah).
    There's also our understanding of language which is only just starting to get a proper grip on the languages animals use. It's come huge strides but there's still a long way to go.


    Ergo the perception, esp the public perception, is likely not correct. The public is years if not decades behind the actual science; the public understanding often lagging until a landmark book becomes popular enough to push into common readership and its summary to pass into common understanding. Yet even without that science still has a long way to go.
     
    Apr 2, 2018
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  13. Graymalkin

    Graymalkin Member

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    Perhaps the study of captive species causing the mistaken 'alpha' theory, might actually be revealing genuine changes in more natural behaviour caused by captivity? In which case I would see that as more analogous to our modern way of life. Captivity = adoption of Alpha male/couple strategy.

    I'm sure there's an adage like 'Bang your drum long enough and someone will either start dancing to your beat or take it off you.'
     
    Apr 2, 2018
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  14. Overread

    Overread Direwolf of the chrons

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    From what little I understand of it the stresses and factors of captivity on the wolves that were studied at the time, promoted a bullying behaviour pattern within the wolves which resulted in the alpha style pack system developing within that group.

    This is not to say that such a mentality is universal to all captive wolves, indeed I suspect that study might well have been used to help identify stress factors which could then be attempted to be mitigated by changes in how wolves are kept in captivity.

    Even within domestic breeds we can see huge shifts in mental attitude depending on the environment they are kept in and how they are treated. Typically "high energy" breeds are even advised not to be kept in smaller homes/apartments and left alone for long blocks of time. We can even identify things like destructive behaviour in pets when they are kept in a manner which isn't suitable for them.
     
    Apr 2, 2018
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  15. Stephen Palmer

    Stephen Palmer author of novels

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    The book Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal is well worth reading for people interested in this field.
     
    Apr 11, 2018
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  16. Parson

    Parson This world is not my home

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    Thanks for this link Stephen! I'm checking it out.
     
    Apr 11, 2018
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  17. Stephen Palmer

    Stephen Palmer author of novels

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    Apr 15, 2018
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  18. Parson

    Parson This world is not my home

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    Thank you for your review Stephen. That was very helpful and just about what I expected when you recommended it.
     
    Apr 16, 2018 at 9:53 PM
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  19. dannymcg

    dannymcg Justified and Ancient member

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    And on a serious note in this debate..

    animals-lassie-television_animal-pets-owner-communicating-rjo0275_low.jpg
     
    Apr 16, 2018 at 10:09 PM
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