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Brain was filling up so I had to realease it on paper


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#16
dsenette

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well, we'll never really know since no one could ever legitimately do this experiment.

Harlow's subjects were miserable because they knew what life was like outside of the box, and they knew that other people existed, and they knew what human contact was like

take animals that have never been seen by humans. on isolated remote islands etc... they're typically not afraid of people, because they've never seen a person and they don't know if we're a threat or not (some animals in this situation are afraid of people but those animals are naturally overly cautious and are afraid of everything just to be on the safe side). they've never seen a person, so they don't know people exist, they know that the other animals they've seen exist so they've got time to ponder what to do about these other animals. this is the same situation as the guy in the box, he's never seen another person so he has no frame of reference as to what their life is like, or that they exist.


these kinds of thought experiments are hard, because you are forced to attempt to think outside of the framework of how you experience things and assume an experience profile that you have no basis for experiencing.

a good example comes from a conversation me and my brother had with my grandmother when we were young. my grandparents grew up with french (cajun) as their primary language, they were taught english in school. my brother asked my grandmother whether she thought in english or french (i had to clarify this "mais dat little lady inside you head. does dat lady speak french or english?")...it makes perfect sense that someone's inner dialog would be in their primary spoken language, but for someone who's primary language is different than others, it's hard to wrap your brain around the idea that someone else's thoughts are in an entirely different language than yours. which is doubly hard to grasp when someone is bilingual and even worse when someone is trilingual. Are their thoughts in their primary language? does their inner dialog switch between languages depending on the environment? if a specific concept is easier to grasp in a different language (it takes about 5 or 6 japanese words to convey a concept that only takes one english word) is it easier to think about that concept in a different language? my grandmother's answer was that her inner voice speaks in both french and english, but she couldn't elaborate on why it would ever switch between languages so i don't know if it was situational or random or what.

take colors. i know what orange looks like to me. when i see a color that's definitely what i know as orange i say "hey that's oragnge". but how do i know that what i know as orange is orange for you? i'm not talking about the naming of colors, i'm talking about the actual reception of the colors. we can both look at the same paint sample and agree that it's orange. but maybe if we switched eyeballs what you always thought was orange now looks like what you always thought was blue.
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#17
srobison

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yea, other than taking a baby from the womb and sticking it into the room alone, which is not only impossible, but a huge violation of right, there is no way of really isolating someone to that point. And everything else that they have tested, isolation of animals, and humans (solitary confinment) has had both a huge psychological affect, and in most cases trauma). It makes it tough I think the best way to really test our thought process is to expirement on people out of their normal environment, and see how their world alters in the new place. Reality T.V., if it wasn't so setup for viewers pleasure, has the potential to really uncover some hard data about human interactions.
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#18
dsenette

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yeah...there's no real ethical way to test most things about why we do what we do or how they do what they do
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#19
srobison

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This is what makes me long for a functional, digital, artificial intelligence. Something that would not only function in a video game, but something so believeable you could test experiments on it.
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#20
dsenette

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http://news.bbc.co.u...ure/8579277.stm you might find this of interest
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#21
Ferrari

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Very interesting conversation.

I wonder, is an idea only composed of things we have experienced? Wouldn't he just have ideas? I dream of things I've never seen before, and that as far as I can remember have never been told about. Wouldn't he? Imagination would go sort of hand in hand with this. Which makes me wonder, when he looked around would he just see a box or his imagination? Meaning I propose he may even lose touch with his reality (the box) and become delusional living in his "madeup world".

I read most of the topic, but skimmed a couple parts. But take a look at this statement from the OP...

and he was given meals three times a day at the same time every day through a box in which there was no way of knowing where the food came from

The fact that something was there that wasn't there before would be enough to spark imagination, ideas, and fill his head with wonder. After all, without food he would never live, thus the experiment would never get far enough to find any results. I guess a feeding tube would be in order?
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#22
dsenette

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everything we think of and imagine, even the most outlandish things that we can come up with are based in our own human experience. the way we're built it's quite difficult to generate some form of thought or imagination that doesn't have SOME root in something we've experienced in one way or another. why do you think 99% of all "aliens" that people describe are humanoid? because in our experience it's impossible to think of a being that's of equal or greater intelligence that could have conceivably developed any other shape/form than something that is humanoid in nature (we're pretty arrogant). it's no mistake that dragons look like giant lizards. someone found a huge skeleton buried in the ground, comparing that skeleton to the skeletons of known animals lead them to believe it was some form of lizard, so when they drew up what they thought it looked like, lizard. where they got the fire breathing? who knows.

tell me one idea, imagination, dream that you've had that doesn't have some basis in your experience.

from our perspective the guy in the box is living a miserable life because he can't experience the things we experience, he has nothing to do and surely must be bored. but from his point of view, he's got just as much opportunity to be happy as the rest of us with what he's given because he doesn't know that anything could be different. displeasure and unhappiness comes from OUR knowledge that something could be better than what it is. the guy in the box has no reason or ability to imagine anything outside of his box, nor does he have any framework for dreaming of anything outside his box.

lets expand the experiment.

lets say that guy 1 (G1) is still in box 1 (B1). He still has no way of knowing that anything outside his box exists. 12 hours a day he gets light, 12 hours a day he gets dark, and 3 times a day food appears from nowhere. now put B1 inside of a larger box (box 2 or B2), that's got another guy (Guy 2 or G2). now B2 has the EXACT same conditions as B1 (can't see/hear/perceive outside of it, 12 hours light 12 hours dark, 3 meals a day from nowhere) the only difference is that G2 can see inside of B1 and thus can see G1 but G1 still can't look out of B1 so he has no feasible way to know that G2 or B2 exist . there are no mirrors or reflective surfaces in either box.


what's G2's experience of life? Does he have any way of knowing that G1 is a human just like him? does he treat G1 as an equal? a lesser being? a pet? what if G2 is responsible for feeding G1 every day with a portion of his meals from nowhere? would he continue feeding G1 because it's what he's always done? would he find some reason to stop feeding G1? what does G2 perceive as possible? is G2 self aware? does self awareness come with being human or is it trained by experience? without self awareness, can G2 have empathy for G1? would he see G1 as a human at that point?

i'd postulate that G2's experience is exactly double what G1's experience is. he still has no idea of anything outside of the box, so he's got no reason to expect anything to exist outside of his box, but he's got a reference point for something else being inside his box. something that moves, walks around, seems to do a lot of the things he does. so would G2 now have an imagination? he would, but still it wouldn't include anything outside of his box, unlike G1 though, his imaginations would include G1 and his box (maybe he would dream of being in B1 with G1, or dream that he was G1 and G1 was him.)

you can continue this up the chain and add more boxes inside of boxes, add a mirror in B3 so that G3 can see that he indeed looks the same as G1 and G2, this would make him more self aware, and aware that these other people were like him. but no matter how many boxes you nest, as long as the guy inside can't see/hear/perceive outside of his box he can only form his opinions/experience/thoughts around what's inside his box and nothing else
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#23
Ferrari

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It's so dang hard to figure out what their intelligence would be like! Every time I think of "a man inside a box" I imagine a grown human with a 120 IQ for example. In reality I guess he would be dumb. No speech I presume except for grunting. If kept in their since the day they were born they would have to have some sort of feeding tube because babies are unable to feed themselves, so death would surely occur.

I still say that if food just appeared out of no where (even in a feeding tube), this would open up imagination for wondering where it comes from. Even if that just included something simple like "How many other boxes are there"? Or wondering "what is giving me this?"... "what is on the other side/out there?". He may presume it's something God-like, or at least God-like to him which you slightly touched on before. Or maybe he would just take it for granted and assume this is just the way things are and not question such things because it's always been there.

tell me one idea, imagination, dream that you've had that doesn't have some basis in your experience

This is really hard to answer, because I've experienced so much. You are probably right though. I don't know.

My brain hurts, you made me read to much. Don't you have a video I can watch? :)
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#24
dsenette

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I still say that if food just appeared out of no where (even in a feeding tube), this would open up imagination for wondering where it comes from. Even if that just included something simple like "How many other boxes are there"? Or wondering "what is giving me this?"... "what is on the other side/out there?". He may presume it's something God-like, or at least God-like to him which you slightly touched on before. Or maybe he would just take it for granted and assume this is just the way things are and not question such things because it's always been there.

he may conclude or imagine that the food is coming from somewhere...like another box just like his own, since he can imagine his own existence, then maybe he could imagine another box giving food through said box. however, our ability to imagine things we cannot see that exist outside of ourselves relies on our ability of self awareness (i.e. we know that we are, and we know what we are)....we can imagine that there could be an infinite number of alternate universes and realities other than our own, because we are aware of our own existence, and we're aware of the universe we live in and how we relate to it. i wonder if someone who doesn't have self awareness (which comes from the ability to perceive yourself in a situational manner) would be able to grasp the concept of alternate realities. i wonder if self awareness is innate, or learned. if you were never able to see yourself (your whole self) or see another person like you, would you be self aware?

our perception of "god" comes from our inability to understand things that we experience ...technically OUR perception of "god" comes from us being taught of "its" existence. even if we're not raised to believe in some form of "god being", we're exposed to those who have been taught about "it" and thus can have some form of relational concept of what is being discussed.....but the first people to come up with the concept experienced "something" and they couldn't explain how that something happened. they knew they didn't do it, they knew they weren't capable of doing whatever it was. but they've got this concept of "others" down. they've seen other people that can do things they can't do, but not to this scale, the things others can do can be taught or learned. these other "mystical things" can't be learned or taught, so something bigger than "others" must be doing it. without the ability to do a comparative analysis of an event to an experience that you have, can you make the leap to "wow must be something more powerful than me pulling the strings around here"?

since the guy in the box has no knowledge of "others" and has no reasonable expectation of "others", then i can't see him making the jump into the realm of religion/mysticism/philosophy. i could be wrong, but it doesn't make sense that someone could make some massive leap of faith and create something that has no basis in experience.


My brain hurts, you made me read to much. Don't you have a video I can watch?

it's in the box with guy 1
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#25
srobison

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I dont think the man in the box would even question the food. It's kind of like wind, yes someone somewhere along the line questioned wind to see why and where it came from, but without the need to think creatively I dont think he would have a need, or want, to even question it.
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#26
Ferrari

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would you be self aware?

And

can you make the leap to "wow must be something more powerful than me pulling the strings around here"?

I don't know, there are so many variables to consider... I don't think anyone could ever prove this without actually conducting the experiment. I wonder if any conclusion could be drawn from conducting this experiment on animals (Not saying I condone this, but just saying). I wonder what are the definite factors that make us so intelligent over animals. Basically, we learn better, but if kept inside a box from beginning to end, we wouldn't be much more than if the same was done to a mouse, right? The man would be completely "dumb" not in the derogatory sense, but just no intelligence at all, right?

It makes me want to know!

Edited by Ferrari, 25 March 2010 - 12:36 PM.

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#27
dsenette

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the biggest thing that separates us from "dumb" animals (i hate that concept) is self awareness...many animals have similar cognitive skills as young children (slugs have the same reasoning/logic skills as teenagers i'm sure) but very few have the ability to be self aware...only a handful of other animals have been shown to be self aware and these animals are typically the ones we consider to be smart (dolphins, apes, etc...). Self awareness gives you the ability to shape our own thoughts as we choose, as opposed to thinking in only situational contexts.

an animal that's not self aware (a mouse for example) will only think thoughts that relate to it's situation (current, past, future). so a standard mouse thought process would be; "ok i smell some cheese. man i wish i had that cheese. hmm there's a tunnel in front of me and i smell the cheese down there, i'll walk down the tunnel till i find the cheese." or "i smell some cheese, hey i see the cheese, it's on that wood thing with the metal thing. hmm last time i got too close to one of those it nearly chopped me in half, i think i'll find some other cheese"

an animal that's self aware has the ability to realize that the thoughts inside their head aren't them, and thus allows them to make much more complex decisions about things, situations, events. it also allows for introspection and self observance. in the context of the experiment, self awareness allows for empathy, or the ability to care about someone/something else. without empathy you're not likely to care if anyone but yourself exists so why would you imagine it? empathy can also be used in a negative manner, you know how something will make someone feel so you purposely craft your actions to do them harm.
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#28
Tripcode

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Goldfish in the fish bowl.
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