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Scientific/objective purpose of the human species

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Greta
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Re: Scientific/objective purpose of the human species

Post by Greta » December 29th, 2018, 8:42 am

Mark1955 wrote:
December 29th, 2018, 7:40 am
Greta wrote:
December 28th, 2018, 5:53 pm
Humans may yet become useful. If we manage to stop even one "planet killer" asteroid we'll have come some way towards making up for the trouble we've caused. If we stop a number of nasty ones, then we'll be doing well.
Well that would be useful to humans and our fellow traveller species, dogs, farm animals etc. but it might be highly deleterious to the species that would thrive post the asteroid arrival. If the dinosaurs were destroyed by an asteroid then the lack of that asteroid might have prevented the rise of the mammals.
Fair point. Species based solipsism strikes again.

I guess it depends on the asteroid size, trajectory and impact site. The objects large enough to wipe out all complex life will probably be too large for us to shift with practically foreseeable technology anyway. If anyone can, the Chinese might find a way, not being hamstrung (like some nations) by large anti-science movements, well, as long as what they build doesn't break down from cut corners in manufacturing!

Humanity is not exactly a slick act. The whole time we've flown by the seat of our pants, pretending to know what we are doing. It's unchartered waters. There's not even a precedent for us, which I think is why we dream of meeting intelligent aliens. We are a bit like abandoned children hoping their parents will show up a lead the way (I have long felt that deities are father figures for fathers who feel they needed support in their responsibilities).

What do we do with our superpowers? There's an idea of going to space but it's pretty clear that any person genetically engineered enough to live in space can't live here. It seems much further away than the problems at home which will take our attention. It looks to me that the Earth's surface is in in the midst of a transformation. I am reminded of the solar system's formation. At first the space around the Sun was rich with matter but gradually large planets bullied and destroyed nearly all of it, just leaving these large areas of complexity amongst barrenness. That seems to be the direction we are going in.

But how do giant cities surrounded by desert survive? Perhaps they'll be like the Trantorians of Asimov's Foundations series, where they live off foods generated from fungi and microbes? What of mental health? A world without animals and few plants? We are not evolved for that. Being constantly surrounded by human minds without the respite of simpler animal minds looks like a recipe for rampant neuroses. I suspect people will turn to intelligent machines for respite.

Really, though, no matter which way I slice or dice it, the future keeps looking like one for intelligent machines more than for intelligent biology, even with genetic engineering.

GE Morton
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Re: Scientific/objective purpose of the human species

Post by GE Morton » December 30th, 2018, 11:52 am

Gertie wrote:
December 21st, 2018, 5:35 pm

So as regards the two hypotheses you reference, I think it would be clearer to simply say this is how the universe seems to work (science), and this is where that might lead. Adding the notion of Purpose doesn't add any extra info I can see, but implies perhaps there's something else going on behind that without explaining or justifying that 'extra something'.
Excellent point. Suggesting that the cosmic evolution may be following a path that will lead to a certain outcome does not imply a purpose. Purposes entail intentions, which requires agency.

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Mark1955
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Re: Scientific/objective purpose of the human species

Post by Mark1955 » December 31st, 2018, 12:04 pm

GE Morton wrote:
December 30th, 2018, 11:52 am
Suggesting that the cosmic evolution may be following a path that will lead to a certain outcome does not imply a purpose. Purposes entail intentions, which requires agency.
If quantum mechanics and genetic mutation are both random then how can we be following something. 'A path' suggests a predefined route, which I'd suggest could only come about due to agency or absolute determinism.
If you think you know the answer you probably don't understand the question.

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Re: Scientific/objective purpose of the human species

Post by GE Morton » December 31st, 2018, 12:30 pm

Mark1955 wrote:
December 31st, 2018, 12:04 pm

If quantum mechanics and genetic mutation are both random then how can we be following something.
Those are not the only determinants of physical processes. A mutation may be random, but whether it persists in a species depends upon environmental factors.
'A path' suggests a predefined route, which I'd suggest could only come about due to agency or absolute determinism.
No, it does not, necessarily. A path (a direction, or trend) may be extrapolated from past behavior of the system.

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Re: Scientific/objective purpose of the human species

Post by Mark1955 » December 31st, 2018, 12:51 pm

GE Morton wrote:
December 31st, 2018, 12:30 pm
Mark1955 wrote:
December 31st, 2018, 12:04 pm

If quantum mechanics and genetic mutation are both random then how can we be following something.
Those are not the only determinants of physical processes. A mutation may be random, but whether it persists in a species depends upon environmental factors.
'A path' suggests a predefined route, which I'd suggest could only come about due to agency or absolute determinism.
No, it does not, necessarily. A path (a direction, or trend) may be extrapolated from past behavior of the system.
But all extrapolation is predicated on no unknown unknowns and even if there are know unknowns you have to be able to accurately quantify them to get a range of possible results and even then the path rapidly becomes wider and wider, which isn't really a path is it.
If you think you know the answer you probably don't understand the question.

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