I was dog-sitting for my brother this weekend, taking care of his family's golden retriever, Dawson. Dawson is your typical golden, easy going, playful, energetic et cetera. I normally do not spend a lot of time with Dawson but see him enough so that he knows me and is comfortable with me. Well during one of Dawson's energetic bouts we start to play with a toy. What was interesting is that he (and I) seemed to be responding and learning(!) from our play. We seemed to be developing a game with unspoken rules that we were both figuring out and playing by. We weren't just play keep away, and we weren't just playing at tug-of-war. He and I were playing a game where once one of us got the toy away from the other the goal was to make it difficult but not impossible for the other to get the toy back so that we could begin our tugging again.
It was very peculiar but I strongly sensed that Dawson "got it" as he neither played to hard or simply ran away with the toy. He seemed to be modifying he actions in response to me adjusting to what we were both agreeing to as part of the game. As I said, I have not spent a lot of time with Dawson and he is still in his first year and this was our first substantial playing together. I would have to say that he was responding and reacting in a manner I would have to call "intelligent." Which lead me back to one of the questions of our class "what is intelligence?"
Are only certain animals intelligent? Maybe mammals in particular? Why do we consider some worthy of our respect and care and others only as our dinner or as simply a nuisance?
If and/or when we create create "artificial intelligence" how or why is it that it will be different from "natural intelligence?" If humanity is part of nature why do we feel that when we make something that it is somehow not natural? Especially if we are "only" animals. Other animals build structures, use tools, dig holes and tunnels have complex societies are those things "un-natural?" Why or why not?
Why (and how) is it that we separate ourselves somehow from the "natural world?"
If we create "artificial intelligence" if we create "artificial life" are we not actually really creating "intelligence" and/or "life"?
If a being or entity is alive, sentient and intelligent does it really matter how it got to be that way?
If we are just part of the evolutionary plan of this world and universe any thing we do is simply and evolutionary movement towards the improvement and survival of the species, perhaps this would even include evolving into a new species "Homo-Sapiens-Mechanicus."
Apparently there have been some 15 different Hominid species,
( http://www.archaeologyinfo.com/species.htm )
and so we must simply be in the process of creating number/s 16 and 17.
The Universe seems to manifest intelligence. I feel that I witnessed it and was a part of it this afternoon. Maybe being homo-sapien is not more important than being a homo-erectus was to them or any other Hominid or other species. What can be more precious than ones own life and existence?
Perhaps the sun rises and sets on all life forms sentient or not, intelligent or not.
Perhaps we have only what we have and "things must be what they are" aside from what we may need or want them to be.