Consciousness: what it is, where it comes from, do machines can have it and why do we care?

Is consciousness possible in:


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Aren't yall looking for evidence of a soul?

I see consciousness as a spectrum. Some people are oblivious of things or ideas that others perceive. Consciousness would probably be difficult to define because of the nature of the concept. No matter the attributes of artificial intelligence, it cannot possess a soul. Even when/if we can create biots they will not have souls. Neither can natural creatures have a soul. Ethically and legally, nothing we create outside of our normal biological process can be properly considered an agent comparable to ourselves. The scary moment is when we've gone beyond by genetically modifying ourselves. Is it possible to create a soulless offshoot of humans and what would that be?

I think yall need to focus on the soul.
 
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Aren't yall looking for evidence of a soul?

I see consciousness as a spectrum. Some people are oblivious of things or ideas that others perceive. Consciousness would probably be difficult to define because of the nature of the concept. No matter the attributes of artificial intelligence, it cannot possess a soul. Even when/if we can create biots they will not have souls. Neither can natural creatures have a soul. Ethically and legally, nothing we create outside of our normal biological process can be properly considered an agent comparable to ourselves. The scary moment is when we've gone beyond by genetically modifying ourselves. Is it possible to create a soulless offshoot of humans and what would that be?

I think yall need to focus on the soul.
We tend to define soul and consciousness as different things. Consciousness does not have any religious connotations. Soul does. Christianity likes to assign souls only to people. Hinduism and Buddhism grant souls to all living things. Whose Holy book is more correct?
 
Good post there, it is nice to see our history summarized like that :)

The first abstract thoughts would have likely been unknown, it requires advanced language skills to express them.

So what we're looking for is the first evidence of an abstract idea ?

The first examples that come to my mind are the Lascaux cave paintings and the Neanderthal burial objects. Though I have to admit that I'm too lazy to look them up at the moment to find out how long ago they happened.

Neither can natural creatures have a soul.

And you think this because...?
 
The first examples that come to my mind are the Lascaux cave paintings and the Neanderthal burial objects. Though I have to admit that I'm too lazy to look them up at the moment to find out how long ago they happened.
I am sure it is me not understanding the word, but I do not get how a picture of some game animals, or some grave goods can be abstract but a rat playing a computer game with its mind is not.
 
Art is abstract. So is the concept of an afterlife.

I said nothing about rats playing computer games.
 
The first examples that come to my mind are the Lascaux cave paintings and the Neanderthal burial objects. Though I have to admit that I'm too lazy to look them up at the moment to find out how long ago they happened.

(...)

I was not lazy, and did a lttle research :)

It seems that most paintings are depictions of animals (and humans), but some are recurring symbols that seem to have some more abstract meaning.


There a serious difference in the depiction of humans and animals though, the animals are very life-like, even using perspective some cases, while humans are represented as stick-figures, almost symbolic.

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Not sure what to conclude from that...
 
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I'll have a look at that later. I'm actually entitled to be lazy here, since this is NaNoWriMo month.
 
There a serious difference in the depiction of humans and animals though, the animals are very life-like, even using perspective some cases, while humans are represented as stick-figures, almost symbolic.
That is an interesting point. I wonder why, my guess would be that the painting was all about the animals, the people were just there as markers to give it some perspective.
 
Or the stick figures were later added by less gifted artists ? The "birdman" in the picture there was certainly not intended to look like any particular human being, more a concept, a mythical figure maybe ?

Edit, in the context of this thread, this may indicate a shift in (self-)conciousness,

from realistically depicting things in your surroundings, to depicting an abstract concept never seen in reality.
 
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Pre-homo sapiens humans may have created abstract geometric art:


(that's just the first non-paywalled article when I googled the "homo erectus art" looking for a source on this find, can't say how good the article as a whole is)

There's also some tentatively connected to Homo Naledi, but as with most things related to them, it's still somewhat controversial and not fully peer reviewed as far as I know.
 
Pre-homo sapiens humans may have created abstract geometric art:


(that's just the first non-paywalled article when I googled the subject)
That is amazing. 430,000 years ago a Homo erectus carved this. I wonder if they were bored and waiting for someone?

 
One thing that's really becoming clear the more fossils and artefacts we find of our ancestors and relatives is that Homo Sapiens just isn't really that special. Many things that were previously attributed only to our species come up frequently in other members of the genus Homo, and sometimes even in Australopithecus, Kenyanthropus and other earlier species.
 
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Pre-homo sapiens humans may have created abstract geometric art:


(that's just the first non-paywalled article when I googled the "homo erectus art" looking for a source on this find, can't say how good the article as a whole is)

There's also some tentatively connected to Homo Naledi, but as with most things related to them, it's still somewhat controversial and not fully peer reviewed as far as I know.
Another thought: If this is the evidence we need for consciousness is it because we doodle that we get human rights?
 
It is as far I know behaviour that has not been observed in apes or other animals, is it ?
It depends how you define the behaviour. Here is some of Congo's work who was a chimpanze and some of his paintings have sold for thousands.
Spoiler Abstract? :


Victoria zoo has in the past sold work by elephants and Orang-utan
Spoiler Art or animal cruelty? :

Spoiler This is how you get them to do it :
 
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He’s holding onto one painting, though: Split Fan Pattern with Central Black Spot. The red, black, and yellow canvas from 1957 marked the first time Congo altered his classic fanned out patterna gesture apes make when spreading out leaves for a nest—in the name of composition. In other words, it was the first time Congo made a purely artistic decision.
This is interesting, as the fan-pattern is also mentioned above in early human paintings.
Fan-Shape (Flabelliform)

Characteristics

As the name suggests these signs are shaped like a fan - not unlike the geometric symbol for an open angle but with extra interior lines emanating from the apex. The Latin name for this type of symbol is Flabelliform.

“Congo’s ability to make a controlled abstract pattern and then to vary it in different ways meant that inside the ape brain there was already an aesthetic sense—very primitive but nevertheless present in a non-human species,”
 
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It is as far I know behaviour that has not been observed in apes or other animals, is it ?

Well, all the examples we're talking about are from apes... ;)

But, less pedantically, as far as I know, nothing's been confirmed from non-homo apes "in the wild" as it were, though as Samson points out, some other hominins have shown potential artistic natures when in human captivity.

Though there are some interesting behaviours among Pan that are probably best described as "culture". Groups of chimpanzees have their own tool designs, hunting methods, social behaviours etc. that are passed down through the generations exclusively within that group which differ, often significantly, from other groups in similar environments.
 
I can think up several other methods to get the buggers to create art, I think we need to look for a bit more natural behaviour ;)
How about bower birds?

Spoiler But is it art? :


Or birds of paradise dances
Spoiler Some pretty good moves there :
 
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