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The General Intelligence of Animals

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posted on Feb, 28 2020 @ 11:24 AM
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A lot of people seem to believe we are the only species with self-awareness and high level thoughts. A long time ago I was basically one of those people, but the thing which really opened my eyes was working on AI systems and learning their limitations. For example compare our best robot dogs to the way a real dog can move, how it can quickly adapt to obstacles in the terrain and different types of terrain, etc. Cats are an even better example because they have exceptional agility and balance, like the ability to jump up onto a thin fence and walk along it.

You might be thinking it's just a matter of time before robots are equally agile, and I wouldn't really disagree, however we have to train our AI for specific tasks, meaning if we want it to walk along a thin fence it has to be trained for that specific task. If you change the fence width, or it's material, or the spacing between fence posts, the AI will fail unless it's trained for all those different circumstances. Imagine if that AI was then tasked with climbing up a tree and walking along a thin branch, it would likely fail spectacularly but a cat would make it look easy.

The primary goal of AI researchers is to create "general intelligence", the ability for AI to solve a wide range of different problems, even problems they've never seen before, by making use of prior knowledge and experience. We haven't quite achieved that yet, but when we do we'll have AI capable of reasoning and solving problems the way humans do. Cats and dogs might not have the same level of brain power or communication skills as humans but they certainly have a type of general intelligence which provides them with a level of self-awareness.

A more abstract example can be seen in how we form emotional bonds with animals. They will sense when you're sad and try to comfort you, they will protect you from threats, they will even learn to be friends with animals they are biologically wired to view as lunch. Cats can live with birds and dogs because they understand on some level that they're part of the family, they have some emotional capacity and some sense of "right" and "wrong". They can restrain their natural instincts when it's socially appropriate but become killers when they think it's acceptable.

Like when a cat hunts birds but lets the family bird sit on its head, or when you're wrestling with a dog and it's growling but only bites you with enough pressure so it doesn't hurt, because it's aware that you're only playing. Good luck trying to create AI with that type of general understanding of morality and social cues, it's not easy to create AI which can deal with such abstract concepts. Not all creatures are equally intelligent though, and only a small fraction have such a high emotional capacity, such as elephants, dolphins, pigs, some birds, etc.

Another complex aspect of animal intelligence is their desire for freedom, like humans they don't like to be imprisoned or caged, and will often become "depressed" if kept isolated too long. This can even cause a loss of sexual drive making it difficult for them to breed in captivity. This is one reason I don't really like zoos or people who keep large pets locked inside their entire life. These animals have a sense of curiosity and a desire for freedom, the liberty to explore and experience the open environment nature intended for them to live in.

Having said all that, I'm still a meat eater because I think it's just a part of nature and because animals like cows are likely to live longer and die a less violent death when they are protected and fed by farmers. That is why I make sure to buy free-range and don't eat meat from anything young like veal, besides it usually tastes like crap. I understand the intelligence these animals have but I don't think we should feel shame over our natural instincts. It may be a lame example but I think Mufasa says it best when he explains the Circle of Life to Simba:


Mufasa: Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.

Young Simba: But, Dad, don't we eat the antelope?

Mufasa: Yes, Simba, but let me explain. When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connected in the great Circle of Life.

edit on 28/2/2020 by ChaoticOrder because: (no reason given)




posted on Feb, 28 2020 @ 11:53 AM
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Your discussion about how dogs will "play fight" is awesome, and something I had not thought of!
These types of behaviors and AI just don't mix.

My friend has a huge Siberian husky that could kill a person in the blink of an eye. He loves to play-fight and wrestle. When he's running around the backyard you can taunt him and he will run at you full speed like he's really going to attack you. He will 'bite' your hand with the exact amou'nt of pressure needed to not be uncomfortable to you. It's truly amazing.



posted on Feb, 28 2020 @ 11:56 AM
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a reply to: ChaoticOrder

Good comments.

Animals think a LOT, much more than they're generally given credit for. And animals not typically house pets can also learn to engage in complex interaction with humans. As I've grown older, I've become more aware of how sensitive they are, and how observant they are.

Cheers



posted on Feb, 28 2020 @ 12:05 PM
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Our cats and dogs view us as large, funny-looking versions of them. It's easy to understand with dogs because we all get the concept of "pack" which is how dogs live, and so when we see dogs getting along with animals they might ordinarily regard as food, it's because they've expanded their pack to include that animal.

It's more nebulous with cats because people are less aware that cats do have a social structure and live in loose colonies. They may not need each other for survival like a dog pack does, but they do interact socially and recognize members of their "in" group. Again, we are part of their colony and so are the animals they learn to adopt who might ordinarily be either predators/enemies or prey.

But to me, the real astonishing thing that AI will have to go a long ways to really ace is personality. Every animal has that. My aquarium fish have it all the way up through all of my cats. They may all be driven by the same instincts and kitty genes and brains, but each one is definitely unique in how it perceives and interacts with the world and everything in it.



posted on Feb, 28 2020 @ 12:08 PM
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a reply to: ColeYounger

Exactly, it is amazing how self-aware some animals can be. I often observe the interesting little things some animals do and I wish I wrote them down but I did manage to recall some good examples. Another thing that often amazes me is just how much personally and pride cats can have, dogs are great too but cats usually have more depth, like they can get embarrassed if you watch them do something dumb, they also need their personal space, too much attention and they get annoyed, unlike dogs who can never get enough.

What I'm claiming might sound a bit far-fetched to those people who don't really pay close attention to animals and just assume they are mindless biological robots, but I can assure you some animals do have feelings and emotions, you just have to try to understand them. I believe they can even sense the difference between people who "get them" and those who just see them as a cute ball of fur for petting, which is often the case for kids. They will put up with the grabby kids and endure it with a funny look of futility because they know kids are just like that.
edit on 28/2/2020 by ChaoticOrder because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 28 2020 @ 12:14 PM
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a reply to: ChaoticOrder

Cats and dogs have different types of intelligence.

A dog depends on keeping the pack happy so they're happy to learn whatever tricks you care to teach for the most part. That's a survival skill for them.

Cats are smart enough to learn too, but they learn more by observation picking and choosing what it is they think they'll need. They don't rely on the pack for survival, so they don't depend on keeping you happy as much. I have one who has learned from watching that door knobs open doors, so he jumps and wraps his paws around them. He hasn't yet mastered keeping his grip, but I expect someday, he'll manage to open the looser doorknobs around the house to go where he pleases even if those doors were shut.

But if I had wanted to teach that to him? Never in a million years ...



posted on Feb, 28 2020 @ 12:39 PM
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All animals have self awareness. Even most microbes have awareness and intellect, they do not have to bite you or poison you if they do not want to. Now, I do not know about viruses, they may bite you no matter what, but they may sense having a good host and moderating their activity is more beneficial than killing that person.



posted on Feb, 28 2020 @ 12:45 PM
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If an AI were able to be created to represent the same goals and limitations of an animal, it may well behave similarly.
One would have to activate the kill routines, to allow for the restraint in the "play kill" mode.



posted on Feb, 28 2020 @ 01:09 PM
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originally posted by: ChaoticOrder
Like when a cat hunts birds but lets the family bird sit on its head, or when you're wrestling with a dog and it's growling but only bites you with enough pressure so it doesn't hurt, because it's aware that you're only playing.

I had this one outside cat that would always come to me to rub on me or be petted or whatever when I'd be out on the deck smoking. She loved "climbing" up on me, as in if I was sitting she'd sortof grab onto my pants with her claws. Sometimes she'd stick her claws too deep though and get my skin, so I'd just gently touch her paw with my finger and she'd immediately retract her claws just enough to hold onto my pants but not go into my skin. I swear I think she understood that I was wearing clothing and not to stick her claws too hard into them because my skin was underneath.



posted on Feb, 28 2020 @ 09:49 PM
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It is human arrogance that is the problem.

The absolute denial that animals can do things that we can't is just staggering.

Take starlings as one example. This is proof of a flock mind ... some sort of telepathy.

Try saying that at a science convention.

I could tell a story of my dog that would know 5 minutes in advance of one of the family returning home. Oh it didn't happen because scientists can't replicate it ... so it does not happen. Science can be very dumb sometimes.



P



posted on Feb, 28 2020 @ 10:57 PM
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originally posted by: trollz
Sometimes she'd stick her claws too deep though and get my skin, so I'd just gently touch her paw with my finger and she'd immediately retract her claws just enough to hold onto my pants but not go into my skin. I swear I think she understood that I was wearing clothing and not to stick her claws too hard into them because my skin was underneath.

Great example, I've seen several cats who do that, dogs often do a similar thing when they bite your socks hard knowing that your toe isn't caught in the part they're biting. They're well aware of where your real body starts, they know the difference between inanimate objects and living objects.



posted on Feb, 28 2020 @ 11:35 PM
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a reply to: rom12345


If an AI were able to be created to represent the same goals and limitations of an animal, it may well behave similarly.

Therein lies the real problem, what are the goals of a cat and how could you program a robot with those same goals? A desire for social interaction, sometimes they want to play but other times they just want to be loved. A sense of curiosity, wanting to stick their head inside every box they see, a desire to explore and climb. However different cats can also have very different personalities, and like humans they often have different likes and dislikes. The real problem is creating AI which can learn and grow, can build experience through practice, and then apply that experience to new situations it has never seen before, like when a cat climbs a new tree it has never seen before.

Most things a cat does aren't goals hard-coded into it, they are goals and desires which arise over time because cats have a type of general intelligence. A human baby isn't born knowing its life goals and desires, they are developed over time as the child grows, and their childhood will often deeply influence their goals and personality. The same thing applies to cats, if a kitten or puppy grows up with an abusive family it will drastically change how they behave later in life even if adopted by a loving family. Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) would be the same, that's why I've said in the past it's very dangerous to believe we can restrain and limit general AI while using it to solve all our problems. Here's a thread a wrote last year on that topic:


Like a human it will be able to solve problems it has never even seen before, because having general intelligence allows it to be a general problem solver. The way AGI algorithms learn is through experience, trial and error, and just like people it will depend what they learn as to how friendly they are towards humans.

Saying we have a plan to produce only friendly AGI systems is like saying we have a plan to produce only friendly human beings, general intelligence simply doesn't work that way. Sure you can produce a friendly AGI system but if these algorithms become widely used there's no way to ensure all of them will behave the same way.

There is no such thing as safe AGI



posted on Feb, 28 2020 @ 11:41 PM
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a reply to: pheonix358

To be fair the flocking behavior is mostly an emergent behavior which can be explained using some fairly simple mathematical rules, I don't think the birds are using telepathy. As for dogs sensing their owners coming home, I suspect maybe they can hear the car from a long way away or they can learn the time their owner usually gets home, again I don't think telepathy is required to explain it, but I do think dogs have an exceptional ability to sense things that humans cannot.



posted on Feb, 29 2020 @ 03:40 AM
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originally posted by: rickymouse
All animals have self awareness. Even most microbes have awareness and intellect, they do not have to bite you or poison you if they do not want to. Now, I do not know about viruses, they may bite you no matter what, but they may sense having a good host and moderating their activity is more beneficial than killing that person.

I disagree.
Do you believe that cancer thinks about keeping its host alive depending on whether the host is good or bad?

Nature programs have narration which speak as if animals are aware that they will die if they don't find food soon.... the programs were often 'survival' programs.

An animal has no idea of death.
I have a cat that I know will die..... my cat has no idea that I could die and leave her.

edit on 29-2-2020 by Itisnowagain because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 29 2020 @ 03:56 AM
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a reply to: ChaoticOrder
My cat plays with live mice and stops playing when it is dead..... but that is just my side of the story.
All she knows is that the play thing has stopped moving so all the fun has stopped.



posted on Feb, 29 2020 @ 04:05 AM
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a reply to: ChaoticOrder
This man has done much research (and experiments) on animals knowing their owners are on their way home.... Rupert Sheldrake.
This vid is just 1min 40 but there is more on youtube and online about it


edit on 29-2-2020 by Itisnowagain because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 29 2020 @ 09:05 AM
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I do believe animals for a lack of a better word, are more ego centric and generally lack choice or free will. Maybe due to how much stronger their bodily instincts can take over, like Jungs concept of the shadow.

They'd lack the amount of neuro connections we have, all the while they have much sharper senses in one sense or another. It what separates man from the cute cuddly beasts.

Not saying they are selfish or stupid, but when prey or herbivores are 3 to 5 times of their predator, and could easily some on them but dont even though they scare em off does make me wonder.
edit on 29-2-2020 by Specimen88 because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 29 2020 @ 09:20 AM
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originally posted by: Itisnowagain

originally posted by: rickymouse
All animals have self awareness. Even most microbes have awareness and intellect, they do not have to bite you or poison you if they do not want to. Now, I do not know about viruses, they may bite you no matter what, but they may sense having a good host and moderating their activity is more beneficial than killing that person.

I disagree.
Do you believe that cancer thinks about keeping its host alive depending on whether the host is good or bad?

Nature programs have narration which speak as if animals are aware that they will die if they don't find food soon.... the programs were often 'survival' programs.

An animal has no idea of death.


I have a cat that I know will die..... my cat has no idea that I could die and leave her.


Just because you do not believe that your cat has consciousness does not mean it does not. When I was young, I never worried about dying, I never even contemplated that I would lose a parent, even though I knew people die I did not worry about it. We have had cats and they know when you are sick if you are friends with them. They will come and comfort you and lay with you to comfort you if they are your friend. If you treat them like they are dumb animals, you will never realize they have consciousness. Since I was really young, I have known all animals have consciousness, I give thanks to the animals that die so I may eat. I grew up on a farm, even chickens have personalities. Roosters will risk their lives to chase away a fox from getting the hens, that is consciousness. Instinct would make that rooster run, not attack to protect the females. Same goes for big cats in the wild, they will walk through herds of animals and choose one animal to kill and eat but then protect the herd from other carnivore. They have consciousness, they are sheepherders protecting their flock.

Open your eyes a bit, it does not mean you cannot eat meat if you realize that animals have consciousness. Deer are intelligent beings, they have feelings. But I eat venison, I will not shoot a doe though unless I have to. Why, I see more of a friendly personality in the young and in the does than in the bucks. Bucks are usually driven by testosterone.

I used to think that the does chasing the young away from the food we give them was because they were greedy until I payed attention. They have to teach their young to survive in the woods and not be totally dependent on us for food. It is not greed, they have a job to do, to teach the fawn how to survive. When the fawn gets older and has learned to survive in nature, then the doe lets it come in and slowly incorporate the foods into it's diet. Not only consciousness, but actually a very high intellect in those animals. Deer are kind of conservative beings, just like cats, they like to form little rituals or patterns in their behavior, just like some people do. They do things a certain way, they make rounds to the houses and stick to their pattern most times. They knew my wife got home at around four oclock when she was working on weekdays and came at about that time, acting weird if she was not there on time.

Your cat has lots of things it does in ritualistic like ways, just like people have pattern thinking, one action triggers another memory or pattern. That kind of pattern thinking is why people with alzheimer disease seem to not be noticed as having the disease some times, sequence thinking is not like antigen thinking, they can survive because their primordial knowledge is in a highly protected part of the brain...one action triggers another action.

I would have a hard time telling you the steps of doing a brake job on a car, one step initiates retreival of another step which keeps going on and on when I am doing the job. That kind of memory is way better than being able to memorize things many times. I do the same thing when I make bread, I do not remember what is in it till I follow a pattern, I know hundreds of recipes in my head, I do not have to go look in the cookbook every time, one step triggers information of the next step. If I go out of pattern, the bread might wind up flavorless, so I always make it the same way. Now, I do a lot of research and I try to compare new information to existing information in my brain to identify patterns, I do not memorize everything, I want to be able to apply things to multiple situations. Now, I have never been very good at remembering names of people yet my IQ was well up into the Genius range when I was young. For being a genius, I sure made some stupid mistakes in my life, but I did learn from my mistakes..



posted on Feb, 29 2020 @ 09:37 AM
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a reply to: rickymouse
I did not say that animals are not conscious.....



posted on Feb, 29 2020 @ 09:46 AM
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a reply to: ChaoticOrder



I'm still a meat eater because I think it's just a part of nature and because animals like cows are likely to live longer and die a less violent death when they are protected and fed by farmers. That is why I make sure to buy free-range and don't eat meat from anything young like veal, besides it usually tastes like crap. I


Many meat products that are free-range, such as chickens, just means they aren't in a cage. They can still inhabit terrible living conditions.

If you understand that animals have such high intelligence and are far away from any current AI then why participate in any animal suffering at all?

Do you only eat hunted or ethically raised meat?



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