Thursday, March 06, 2008

Natural Machines Part I

Each living being can be conveniently called a 'natural machine'. Humans perhaps come under the category of those natural machines which has the maximum capability to think and act on it's own. Each living and even non-living beings follow some unknown yet existing "Laws of Nature", like we had "Laws of Jungle" in Jungle Book! These laws determine our action/reaction, behavior, and decisions, emotions etc.
Also, evolution has played a major role in making us and this world as we are and as it is today.
Some of these Laws of Nature have been discovered like "Laws of gravity", "Laws of motion" etc., yet much is left to be discovered.
The functioning of our being is governed by laws and things like bio-chemical reactions, metabolism, hormonal secretions, or some other body reactions are what runs our body and gives the reaction to stimuli. This can be directly compared to a machine/android.
Hence, our physical being can be compared to a machine and hence can be simulated. The tricky thing here are "emotions". While I believe that emotions are also a part of our brain and can be simulated, many of my friends don't agree to this point.
Another general belief is that brain and mind are different. I think that brain is a physical structure which enables us to think, make decisions and consciously or unconsciously control our body. Mind is something that is the working brain and also handles our emotions. Now, many other species have brain, but they may not have a mind, which means a brain which can feel and interpret things differently so that changes are made. The mind helps us think differently and make discoveries and improve our lives.
I think this mind works on a randomized model which leaves some scope of unexpectedness and innovation but it still follows the "Laws of Nature". This would also mean that emotions, which are a part of what our mind generates, can also be modeled. I think that's also possible, but we haven't done enough "out of box" thinking to come up with a different and appropriate model for simulating emotions.
Also, what I feel is that each and everything that a living being, especially human (the most complex living being) comprises, are interdependent on each other and hence simulating one thing in isolation would not have complete meaning and our intended purpose might not be met!
For example, if we have to simulate pain, then only simulating pain may not give us correct picture of how human perceives pain. If we add present state of a human mind, it's emotions etc. and the kind of person he/she is (afraid of pain maybe), then maybe we'd get a better simulation.

17 comments:

Devansh Mittal said...

Self (I):-
1. Desire to live with happiness in a human being is always present with the same intensity. It is not the need of the body but it is “my” need. It is ever actively present. It can not be simulated in a robot. This continuity of this feeling all the time within me makes me to think that there is something which is continuous within me.
2. I have a deep sleep in the night and when I wake up in the morning I say “I had a nice sleep”. If I was sleeping then who observed that “I had a nice sleep”? and who was sleeping? Will a robot ever sleep? What is this phenomena of sleeping?
3. I drink water and say “ohh my thirst is quenched”. Who gets this feeling of “quenching of thirst” and can this feeling be simulated?
4. When a doctor pinches needle in my body I feel pain, who is feeling the pain? I can simulate the expression which comes in my body when I feel pain, but can I simulate the feeling of pain?
5. I feel jealousy, greed, peer pressure. I sympathise, I empathise, can these feelings be simulated.
6. Look at the chinese room experiment at this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_room
7. When I see TV through my eyes, I can see the 2D picture on the TV screen and my eyes are seeing just the 2D picture but I can still recognize the 3D characters in the TV, so who is seeing? who is the seer? can we simulate this feature in robot?
8. A human being has the faculty of verification and can distinguish between what he knows and what he assumes. Will there be any difference for a robot between “Knowledge” and “Assumption”?
9. A human being has faculty of realization-verification, faculty of generalization-determination, desire-imagination, logic-analysis, and taste-selection. Can these be simulated in a robot?
10. A human being has the desire to live with relationships. Can feeling to live with relationships can be a characteristic of material? can this “feeling” be simulated?
11. Can any feeling be the characteristic of a material?
12. A physical body can transmit the motion but it can not originate it, since human beings can originate the motion so are we just the physical bodies?
13. Can a robot ask himself “what is the goal of his life?” and even if we asks then will it need to explore for it?
14. When I am eating something tasty then I generally overeat. Will a robot or just a body will have a feeling of liking and disliking? will a robot ever overeat?
15. Can a robot ever learn? There is a difference between learning and training.
16. Will a robot or material be able to recognize harmony in nature?
17. Will a robot or material be able to recognize relationship between any two entities.
18. Will a robot find pleasure in eating, playing, watching movies, listening to songs, etc?
19. Will a robot ever feel depressed and need a counselor?
20. Will a robot ever suicide? Remember a human being suicides when he has no hope of being happy anyhow.
21. Will robots feel alone due to lack of relationships?
22. Will a robot ever revolt? Remember a human being revolts when he is kept under “unfavorable” circumstances for long time.
23. I can not see more than what I know. But I see that I am seeing or recognizing more day by day. How it is happening? Can it ever happen in a robot? Can a robot recognize something in nature which is independent of its knowledge base?
24. Generally when we sleep we have unconscious dreaming. Can robots have unconscious dreaming?

There are many many more example which makes us suspect there is something extra within us.

Abhishek said...

@Devansh: Happiness is "my" need because that is how we are programmed by Nature/God to be like. If we were programmed to be in discomfort and hatred, we'd be seeking that state rather than happiness. Happiness is a stable state for us.
No one observed the person sleeping. The person woke up, felt nice (some bio-chemical reactions etc.). The phenomena of sleep is resting of body while mind works on some unfinished things troubling us so that it is stable by the time our body has had nice rest.
"Quenching the thirst" is again a bio-chemical or similar body reaction! It can be simulated!
The pain is simply a signal which can again be simulated.
Those feelings of jealousy etc can also be simulated.
In all the above things, it's not only the bio-chemical reactions or other body reactions, but also what's going on in the mind of the person that actually makes a lot of difference in the way a person might feel about the whole thing of sleep/thirst/pain etc.
Here, the "feel" thing is an interpretation.
The 3D characters are the result of shadow effect and other things that our eyes are capable of perceiving.
Robot can distinguish between "Knowledge" and "Assumption" based on the way it learns and it's learning experience.
Humans evolved from lower species and learned things through the ages and slowly improved their knowledge and assumptions, most of which is stored in our genes and rest we ourselves perceive due to the way we've become because of evolution.
A normal person knows that a smile means happiness and if that person knows the smile is sarcastic, he'd know that it's not happiness but could also be some negative emotion.
Nature follows a set of laws and if we know those, then the whole cosmos can be simulated/made again because we have something very useful with us and that is a "computer". :)

Devansh Mittal said...

I agree to the fact that we can understand the laws of nature, but do not agree to the fact that humans can simulate them. Life is a concious entity which can not be created by man.
I think it requires a lot of introspection on our part to understand what a feeling is. I think you did not read the Chinese Room Experiment at this link, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_room
Simulation can nothing but computation or mixing of two materials (chemicals) which includes no understanding and feeling.
I think we need to reconsider the thing that mixing two chemicals can generate "Trust".
According to current science, they know "what" happens in body when I feel something but they do not know "why" is it happening!!

Anon said...

@Devansh

Just because these things arent done now does not mean that it can never be done ever. (FYI some of these goals have already been achieved). This is totally religious thinking similar to that of Church. By telling these as permanent hurdle you are basically killing the basic purpose of life which is just to anything. Moreover I do not feel like arguing with you over these points as well. Jeevan Vidya must go from IIIT.

Devansh Mittal said...

@Anon:
I am very thankful for your comment!
"Moreover I do not feel like arguing with you over these points as well."
As you wish. I just wanted to say, I am always open for a discussion. In future if you feel like then you can discuss with me.
You can also choose to not to reveal your identity and discuss on some forum etc.
I also wanted to mention that I gave a few "Scientific" observations also like Chinese Room Experiment http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_room
which is specially for people who believe that "Science is everything"!

Devansh Mittal said...

@Anon:

"you are basically killing the basic purpose of life"

It implies, that the basic purpose of life of a human being is to simulate a human being?

I do not agree.

Will this basic purpose of your life be able to establish
1. Peaceful coexistence in nature?
2. Fearlessness in Society?
3. Prosperity in every family?
4. Responsibility in every citizen?

We have seen how we have been using our scientific achievements. Science is NOT an END, it is just a MEANS for a purpose. The whole problem is we do not know what the purpose of our life is!!

Harsh Satya said...

@devansh, i like the way u keep ur cool among all the stone throwing. we can always disagree on some point but that does not justify our misbehavior. its great u keep ur cool.

Harsh Satya said...

As a kid I once thought to develop a machine which would produce oxygen. I thought this would solve the problem of green house effect. Then somebody asked me why dont i grow trees instead of thinking about making such a machine, after all trees serve the same purpose. my point is even if we are able to make robots as intelligent at humans, what would we achieve? we already have about a trillion humans on earth.

Anon said...

OMG two comments for me! :P Maaf kar do Devansh sir.

There was a time when people used to think that sun revolves around a flat earth (omg how can something revolves around something flat). As you have brought Chinese Room Experiment into picture, lemme quickly prove it wrong by providing you three links 1. http://www.anti-state.com/article.php?article_id=247 got from the chinese room thing.

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quine_%28computing%29

3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-replicating_machine

Again I'm not arguing.

@Anon:

"you are basically killing the basic purpose of life"

It implies, that the basic purpose of life of a human being is to simulate a human being?


Incomplete copying :P. I wrote :

you are basically killing the basic purpose of life which is just to anything.

I never told that Science is end to end. There are things like music, drama, movies, sex, beauty etc. apart from science in life. Again what you wrote are systems not science. I can argue and win but I'm stopping here.

@harsh: I dont think that I was harsh against Devansh. If I was then I'm sorry.

Devansh Mittal said...

@Anon:

Its not about winning and loosing. Lets discuss what is right rather than who is right.
Probably you took Chinese Room Experiment in a different sense. It talks about entirely a different thing. The argument still remains, a machine CAN NOT and WOULD NOT "Understand", because understanding is a feeling. I never talked about self-replication.
It can never feel, it can never imagine.
In fact chinese room experiment is just an example given by a Scientist and Philosopher, John Searle. Generally it makes more sense for people when statement comes from a scientist himself.
Anyways, in my 24 arguments I talked only about the same thing i.e "feeling".

Anon said...

oops links are not comimg properly. Make the font size smaller or check the html source :P

Devansh Mittal said...

@Anon:

Probably the professor who taught you AI (Prof. Sangal) can give you more clarity on it if you discuss these things with him.

Devansh Mittal said...

@ALL:

There is a difference between "Feeling" and "Expression of Feeling". When somebody tries to pierce pin into my hand then in order to save my hand I pull my hand back. Here Pain is the "Feeling" and my pulling my hand back is the "Expression" of it. We can simulate the expression but not the pain.

Generally we confuse between "Feeling" and the "Expression of it".

Abhishek said...

@Devansh: Rejecting the idea of not being able to simulate the "pain" is not the solution. Either way, i.e., those who agree that it can be simulated and those who don't agree to it, have no valid proof to support their assumption/hypothesis. If you'd say that all the present mathematical model fail in such simulation cases, then I don't think that can be considered as a valid proof because there might be a better model (it may not be mathematical one) which we have not found yet. The quest for knowledge and learning Nature's game plan is still on. Nothing can be said about the results! :)
Conclusion: Our discussions have no conclusion, however it was nice to see so many people reading my post without me personally asking them to do so :)
Thank you, thank you :)

Anon said...

Read about this guy if you have time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei

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