Mobile devices, Planets and the Human Condition

what is intelligent life anyway?

How can we hope to find intelligent life the originates from outside earth if we don't decide on precisely what intelligence is.

at the base of it all, we are a collection of atoms, however these atoms are structure in such a way that we can move around, think, or at least think we think, and communicate, create and even post blogs.

there is also the debate on the soul, I am not about to interject my own religious beliefs into this article - but I will say that there has got to be a "key" to life - thats what I think.

Intelligence : Noun
  • Capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding and similar forms of mental activity.
  • "The faculty of understanding"
if we take a look at the first dot point, and exclude the others then many many creatures on the earth are intelligent.

many creatures are capable of the listed traits.

so when we start to discuss finding intelligent life not originating from terra firma we must be talking about effectively any reasonably advanced creature, however not neccessarily as "advanced" as a human.

I use the term advanced lightly, as I am oft reminded of the quote from the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy By Douglas Adams.

On the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much - the wheel, New York, wars, and so on - whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins believed that they were more intelligent than man for precisely the same reasons.

However what most of us are thinking about when we talk about intelligent life from another planet is not Intelligence, but Sentience,

A being capable of independant thought and emotion,

Sentience is defined as:

sentient condition or character; capacity for sensation or feeling.
  1. The quality or state of being sentient; consciousness.
  2. Feeling as distinguished from perception or thought.

as is always the case with any such subject, the more philisophical you become the deeper and more complex the topic unless you keep it locked down,

for us to truely discuss sentience and intelligence then we need to be able to discuss conciousness, but that leads onto a much much heavier debate, what is conciousness? how do you know you are really thinking and feeling? and that you are not in a matrix like situation or a figment of someone elses imagination?

or that the whole universe isn't a single entity experiencing itself subjectively?

you can't, however you can continue debating such topics until the cows come home, so I will leave it there as for this particular discussion the point is fairly moot.

except to add the point, that if we are not actually where we think we are, and we are a construct in a computer then there must be intelligent life out there,

this provides a good illustration of what I wished to discuss now, think of it this way,

Imagine the whole universe, earth and everything else is a constructed piece of software.
within this constructed universe we are the only intelligent - sentient beings.

but! outside this construct, outside the computer it is running on there is a whole higher and different universe that is totally and completely outside of our human comprehension.

that adds a third dimension to this topic, lets say we are the only intelligent life within our universe,

can we truly say that we have the only universe? no.
and not only that, but even the bible completely allows for this possibility.

this isn't to say that we will ever find a way of knowing, let alone communicating with other universes, however there is the distinct possibility that things happen outside of possible comprehension.

I think the best proof that it may be this way is to take a look at Quantum physics,
which already has the "infinite dimensions"theory however I find that particular theory a bit offensive, because in my view the whole of Creation (or nature if you prefer) always seem to work so well, and everything is at peak efficiency and effectiveness, I find the idea of splitting an entire universe for every possibility of every movement of an atom, or a sub-atomic particle almost offensive at the level of gratuitous inefficency suggested.

however, there are proven facts within quatum physics that lead on to the proof that there are things going on we still cannot even hope to grasp the whole story of - lets face it, our two main streams of physics still totally disagree with each other.

some of the theories, that while we understand them totally still go to show we have a long way to go.

Situations such as the Heisenberg uncertainty principle (wikipedia)

you have all the issues around wave - particle duality,

then getting into the totally crazy mathematics and physics you start to look at things such as fuzzy movement at a distance,

where by you can observe a particle in a particular state here on earth, however by observation you define it and you can change the state of a particle on the other side of the universe.

if there is other life out there, all it would take for them to destroy the universe would be to observe certain particles to have great mass and all of a sudden the entire universe would become a swirling vortex of superdense material.

yet - due to relativity, how can we not say this has not already happened? if everything in the universe became 200x denser instantaneously, why would we notice?

there would be no way for us to know, because all the weight and everything would stay the same, according to my theory - according to the theories of others who are more intelligent than me - it could destroy the universe.

And on that note, I bid you all farewell until next time, when I shall continue this train of mono-blog discussion.

sentience. (n.d.). Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved February 03, 2007, from website:

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Comment by Up4It, on 4-Feb-2007 12:58

There are some things we may never 'know', but at least they make for interesting thought. I'll continue running SETI@Home, until i'm convinced there is no point. 

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New Zealand

I'm a professional Geek, and also in my own time, I am likely to write about all manner of things on this blog.
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