X-Message-Number: 11946
Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 01:34:02 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Ants, brains, aliens, reanimation

Thomas Donaldson, #11935:
>A universal language in the sense of one which everyone uses is not the
>same as a language designed especially to communicate with someone whose
>language you do not share.

Yes, and this is a good point. But I still think a one-way communication is
possible too, i.e. a universal language intelligible to any advanced aliens
that may be out there. So far, of course, we haven't contacted any such
beings, and it remains to be seen if we ever will. (But a more important
point is the claim that symbols and chunks of information are not just
arbitrary until a meaning is assigned, but can contain intrinsic elements of
meaning, if looked at in a reasonable way. "2" makes a better symbol for the
number two than does "3"--and "3" in turn is better for three. Can you see
why? To me this tends to support the information paradigm, that people are
essentially digital processors, and that information has a deep
significance, which I think will be important in a world in which cryonics
patients could be reanimated.)

Regarding my contention that technologically advanced creatures must have
some basic intelligence that would allow them to understand our messages: 

>... consider all the different species of ants. Each
>individual ant is "dumb", but ants have domesticated other insects 
>and other plants, created castles for themselves protected by "tame"
>plants, taken other ants as slaves, and done many other things which
>we might think of as requiring our kind of intelligence. Now first
>imagine a single species of ant which does ALL of these things ---
>and then go on from there by adding 1 billion years more. Just what
>might such ant descendants be capable of doing? And in why should the
>nest or any individual ant have any more "intelligence" than present
>ants do?

I find it hard to imagine an ant colony that could develop space travel that
was not "intelligent" in some sense. The individual ants would not have to
be of course; but we could think of them as like neurons in the brain. As
far as I know, human neurons are not individually more "intelligent" than
the neurons of other species (possibly they have more interconnections--but
I haven't heard this). But we clearly do have *more* neurons, with special
higher-level organization not found in other species.

Mike Perry

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=11946