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Solfe
2011-Dec-15, 06:25 AM
Sentience means feeling as distinguished from perception or thought.

Does "feeling" in the above definition mean simply "to be able to reflect on X or have an opinion about Y."? Or is it more than that?

I had this thought about a computer that was programmed to be able to accept sensory data and reflect on it, but has no internal sensors. All sensors are external and each "sensing machine" is not under the direct control of the computer itself. Each sensor has "processes and policies" that must be followed before making a choice to send the data to the computer. Sometimes the data is sent, sometimes it isn't based on the criteria of the sensor.

Could this computer ever be sentient?

If the example was changed to an adult human has his or her sensory organs destroyed and replaced with the exact same sensors described above, the person would obviously would still be sentient. At least in my mind anyway.

Is this akin to the question about if a person was deprived of all sense from birth, would he or she have thought?

Luckmeister
2011-Dec-15, 08:00 AM
Sentience means feeling as distinguished from perception or thought.

Does "feeling" in the above definition mean simply "to be able to reflect on X or have an opinion about Y."? Or is it more than that?

I was under the impression that thought is a necessary component of sentience.


I had this thought about a computer that was programmed to be able to accept sensory data and reflect on it, but has no internal sensors. All sensors are external and each "sensing machine" is not under the direct control of the computer itself. Each sensor has "processes and policies" that must be followed before making a choice to send the data to the computer. Sometimes the data is sent, sometimes it isn't based on the criteria of the sensor.

Could this computer ever be sentient?

I'm sure we will reach a point in computer advancement where there will be arguments over whether the latest are truly sentient or just emulating sentience. The dividing line will probably be hard to distinguish.


If the example was changed to an adult human has his or her sensory organs destroyed and replaced with the exact same sensors described above, the person would obviously would still be sentient. At least in my mind anyway.

Is this akin to the question about if a person was deprived of all sense from birth, would he or she have thought?

Yes, but with no stimulus there would be no concept of reality and thought would be chaotic. The brain would not learn and mature.

HenrikOlsen
2011-Dec-15, 08:52 AM
Is this akin to the question about if a person was deprived of all sense from birth, would he or she have thought?
They would be dead.
There are some half a dozen of so senses used for regulating internal chemistry and those that also pick up external stimuli would have to be removed too for complete isolation.

Van Rijn
2011-Dec-15, 09:52 AM
It's basically the same issue as asking whether someone or something is conscious. Without a generally agreed on, testable definition of "conscious" or "sentient" I don't see it being very useful to discuss it.

For instance, I could see some time in the future a robot that acted human in test after test, using hardware and software based on how the human brain works, where such a robot could insist they are sentient . . . and you'd still get many people who would insist they couldn't be proved to be conscious or sentient.

Solfe
2011-Dec-15, 07:18 PM
So basically the real issue is there is no test for sentience therefore we can't exactly say what is sentient except by examples, and the examples may or may not be flawed.

Cougar
2011-Dec-21, 01:49 AM
Sentience means feeling as distinguished from perception or thought.
Does "feeling" in the above definition mean simply "to be able to reflect on X or have an opinion about Y."? Or is it more than that?

Actually, it's less than that. I was surprised to find dictionary.com say it was basically just "conscious." So I cross-checked with an old Webster's New World, which said it was basically just "conscious." I couldn't believe it. You don't have to be "thinking." No opinion required. All the animals and birds and fish, they're sentient. You just have to be "conscious" and "feel" your surroundings, presumably to react or not to react. So I guess that makes an amoeba sentient. And here I though sentience was a unique human characteristic. Huh... Did this thread just enter the Twilight Zone, or something?

Van Rijn
2011-Dec-21, 02:07 AM
Actually, it's less than that. I was surprised to find dictionary.com say it was basically just "conscious." So I cross-checked with an old Webster's New World, which said it was basically just "conscious." I couldn't believe it. You don't have to be "thinking." No opinion required. All the animals and birds and fish, they're sentient. You just have to be "conscious" and "feel" your surroundings, presumably to react or not to react. So I guess that makes an amoeba sentient.


But again this depends on your definition of "conscious" and there isn't a generally agreed testable definition for that. In fact, some people insist on a definition that would be impossible to test in principle.

Solfe
2011-Dec-21, 02:42 AM
Personally, I can buy that cats and dogs are conscious and therefore are sentient. In fact, I would extend sentient to creature that dislike dying. My world view obviously breaks down with earthworms... they tend to commit "suicide by sidewalk" after a good rain and a few rare ones reportedly can regenerate two worms from a bisected individual.

I kind of thought this would happen. Consciousness is required for sentience, but what defines consciousness is debatable.

Would anyone have the opinion that consciousness requires direct sensory input?

I honestly don't think that there is a real answer, but I am interested in opinions.