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There is no fine line between what is alive and what is not. The only reason humans try to put it there is because we see things as "alive" or "not alive", instead of the spectrum it really is. The fact that we deem robots as "not alive" and ourselves as "alive" is proof that we view life from an animalistic point of view, not universal, amirite?

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Watchful_questioneers avatar Life
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Respond to the environment, grow and change, can reproduce and have offspring, have a complex chemistry (Metabolism), maintain themselves (Homeostasis), are built of cells. That is why plants are alive and rocks and robots are not.

Are you talking about sentience?

Frank_n_Furters avatar Frank_n_Furter Yeah You Are +3Reply
@Frank_n_Furter Respond to the environment, grow and change, can reproduce and have offspring, have a complex chemistry...

yes, actually. I never really knew what that was before now, but I think life is defined by sentience, not physical structure or how an organism maintains internal body temperature.

If an alien were made of something that functions as a cell but is not, than can we, just by that, argue that it isn't alive? If it has no need to maintain constant conditions around it, can we argue that it isn't alive? what if it's of a simple chemistry?

I think it isn't defined by any of that (maybe life on Earth, but probably not somewhere else). Once we encounter life somewhere else, all of that I think will fly out the window, and I think sentience will be the only thing that will matter

@Watchful_questioneer yes, actually. I never really knew what that was before now, but I think life is defined by sentience, not physical...

Well, I think it can be hard to tell where the line for what is sentient and what is not is kind of muddy, but I think it's because 1 technology doesn't have the tools to measure those things precisely yet and 2 as a sentient life form it will be hard for us to be objective about what is sentient life. For example, caterpillars and ants are supposed to follow each other. Caterpillars can get caught in a circle and they will follow each other around until they die, ants can get caught in a pinwheel and will follow each other until they die. That's shows that they haven't got a higher level cognitive thinking and cannot break their programmed instincts. As a human, my instinct is to breath unless there is toxic gas or something, but I can go against my nature and choose to hold my breath. A caterpillar or ant probably doesn't even know about the concept of holding their breath and wouldn't do it even if there was toxic gas in the room.

Frank_n_Furters avatar Frank_n_Furter Yeah You Are 0Reply
@Frank_n_Furter Well, I think it can be hard to tell where the line for what is sentient and what is not is kind of muddy, but I...

I'm not talking about whether it's possible to apply or not, I'm talking about whether it's right or not, and applicability has no effect on that.

The fact that one thing can be more sentient than another only adds to the argument that it's a spectrum, not a dividing line

@Watchful_questioneer I'm not talking about whether it's possible to apply or not, I'm talking about whether it's right or not, and...

Well yeah it's a spectrum, I didn't even think that was up for debate. Is it right or wrong? That's kind of hard to say, I guess it depends.

Frank_n_Furters avatar Frank_n_Furter Yeah You Are 0Reply
@Frank_n_Furter Well yeah it's a spectrum, I didn't even think that was up for debate. Is it right or wrong? That's kind of hard to...

It wasn't the entire post though. It also states that both sentience and life are on a spectrum; one can be more alive and sentient than another. I was kinda wrong about there being no real line, though. It's a line on a spectrum

Yes, we may not look at life universally, but we are looking at it biologically, and not just on some arbitrary scale.There are lines between what's alive and not, and they make sense. Robots are definitely not biologically alive. You gave hypotheticals in the comments, but they don't apply to what we have right now. Maybe in the future the definition might change, but we would still be dealing with artificial intelligence and artificial biology. Life is something that is naturally occurring, and we did give it a definition, but life existed before that definition was put into place. I can see your point with sentience, and it is definitely given a lot of weight in our society, considering abortions are allowed on living fetuses because they are not yet sentient. I'm not saying my stance on abortion, but I think we can all say the fetus is alive, even if it isn't sentient. That's why I don't think life is based on sentience but rather on biology. How we choose to value life without sentience is a different story.

_Jojo_s avatar _Jojo_ No Way +3Reply
@_Jojo_ Yes, we may not look at life universally, but we are looking at it biologically, and not just on some arbitrary...

On the point of artificial intelligence:
Where do you draw the line between naturally and unnaturally occurring? If something natural creates something, is it natural or unnatural? Humans are made by humans and are considered natural, while technology is as well and is considered unnatural? Why?

@Watchful_questioneer On the point of artificial intelligence: Where do you draw the line between naturally and unnaturally occurring? If...

I'm no expert on this, but if humans create something like a robot, it is artificial because without human intervention something like that would never exist in nature. Yes, humans create humans, but that is natural because it is necessary for the survival of man and is instinctual and inborn just like language or song is. All other life reproduces and has always reproduced. The same does not go for robots. Creating a sentient robot is not inborn and if that robot can somehow reproduce, its reproduction was crafted by man in a laboratory and was not something that was just there from the beginning of time. Humans defined life based on what they saw and what was there from the beginning. It's not an idea we created, but rather an idea that was already there.

@_Jojo_ I'm no expert on this, but if humans create something like a robot, it is artificial because without human...

But what if a sentient robot of the same kind was coincidentally made in nature? Would it still be artificial?

@Watchful_questioneer But what if a sentient robot of the same kind was coincidentally made in nature? Would it still be artificial?

I guess it would be seen as natural, but not necessarily as living, the way a rock is natural but is not living.

@_Jojo_ I guess it would be seen as natural, but not necessarily as living, the way a rock is natural but is not living.

Even if it exhibited all the qualities of life except sentience?

Do you consider humans a part of nature?

@Watchful_questioneer Even if it exhibited all the qualities of life except sentience? Do you consider humans a part of nature?

Oh, in that case it would be alive, just not sentient. Humans would probably discriminate because of that fact, too.

Yes, I do consider humans a part of nature, although we do disrupt it quite often.

@Watchful_questioneer Well then, if something is created by nature, isn't it natural?

Yes, but humans are not nature; they are a natural product of nature. Products of nature can create things that are both natural and unnatural, so even if humans are natural, it doesn't mean the robots they create are, and if the man-made robots were natural, it doesn't mean they are alive.

@_Jojo_ Yes, but humans are not nature; they are a natural product of nature. Products of nature can create things that are...

Okay, let's use a different example:

A chimp uses a stick to fetch ants out of an ant hole

Is the stick natural? Or is it an artificial tool? Natural, right?

@Watchful_questioneer Okay, let's use a different example: A chimp uses a stick to fetch ants out of an ant hole Is the stick natural?...

The entire point to the world natural is "Existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind."

Frank_n_Furters avatar Frank_n_Furter Yeah You Are 0Reply
@Frank_n_Furter The entire point to the world natural is "Existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind."

In that case... wait this got really far off topic from the post...

Anyways, if the chimp slowly evolved to be as smart as man, then would "natural" no longer include things made by it?

What would be the line it has to evolve past and the sophistication of the invention for us to draw the line?

@Watchful_questioneer In that case... wait this got really far off topic from the post... Anyways, if the chimp slowly evolved to be as...

I've actually always wondered that. How come when humans build a building, even a tent, tepee, or igloo, it's not natural but if an ape builds a nest it is? I've never really understood where the line is drawn or if it's just the idea humans have of "we're humans and they're animals", separating themselves from the rest of the animal kingdom. I mean, if we're creations of the universe, and this creation creates something from previously existing products, how come if another creation of the universe creates something it's natural but when we create something for some reason we're so freaking special that it's not? And why do people have such a hard time seeing themselves as just another thing created by some atoms? And what makes sentience?

Damn nigga, you got me thinking about philosophy and shit.

Frank_n_Furters avatar Frank_n_Furter Yeah You Are +1Reply
@Watchful_questioneer In that case... wait this got really far off topic from the post... Anyways, if the chimp slowly evolved to be as...

The stick would be natural. Things like shelter and tools are not necessarily unnatural because they are necessary for survival and make use of naturally-occurring materials. An atomic bomb is not a natural tool because atoms don't just spontaneously split. Humans do create things that are natural like spears, or log cabins, or herbal medicines. It's not about what creature makes it. It is about what is made and how. So if a chimp slowly evolved to be as smart as man, things made by it could still be natural, to answer your question.
(This did veer off quite a bit from the post. Interesting topic, though).

@Watchful_questioneer So then, where is the line between something natural and unnatural?

That's pretty much the question you asked me first. I answered it to the best of my ability across my comments (especially the second one). I feel like I'm repeating myself a little, just through different scenarios. There is no cookie-cutter definition I can give you.

@_Jojo_ That's pretty much the question you asked me first. I answered it to the best of my ability across my comments...

Oh yeah, sorry. Since this is going in a loop anyways, best end it here. When I made the post I'd been thinking of sentience, not life, anyways

@_Jojo_ No problem. An interesting discussion came out of it.

That's true, that was pretty interesting. While it's possible to identify things that are natural vs. things that aren't, it's really difficult (if possible at all) to draw a fine line

Could you explain this a little more? I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to say.

Anonymous 0Reply
@Could you explain this a little more? I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to say.

Well, by calling life a spectrum, I'm saying that things can be more alive than others, like bright and dark. We're used to saying that a lamp is bright and night is dark, but in reality it can fall anywhere in between. Calling something bright is relative, and calling something alive is relative too. The problem is, we have no idea what it's relative too, so we make life relative to ourselves. Anything significantly less alive than us we call "not alive"

@Watchful_questioneer Well, by calling life a spectrum, I'm saying that things can be more alive than others, like bright and dark. We're...

There are seven characteristics of life. If something doesn't follow all of those, they are not alive. One characteristic is that it must be able to reproduce. A robot, like you used in your post, couldn't reproduce so it isn't alive.

Anonymous +2Reply
@There are seven characteristics of life. If something doesn't follow all of those, they are not alive. One...

what if you made a robot that can build other robots from scratch? and made it out of nanobots (like cells), had it accumulate in size throughout its life, and so on? would it be alive then?

Hello sir, what a POST
Here, what is alive also tell me what's dead. Okay nice play

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