Page 2 of 4 FirstFirst 1234 LastLast
Results 31 to 60 of 91

Thread: Why do we use sound to communicate?

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    20,437
    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I think the hypothesis is that the speed of language is not really limited by the sound but more by the time it takes our brains to process the information, either on the transmitting side or the receiving side (I'm not sure which...)
    Probably both. I often say ďuhĒ or pause in other ways when I talk, and who hasnít thought of what they wished they had said later? On the other side, Iíve occasionally used those speedup features available to play some audio and video. I can handle two times normal speed if what Iím listening to isnít on a complex technical subject, but it can get tiring. Reading is a bit different since you can speed up or slow down or read something over as you like. My standard reading speed is a fair bit faster than listening speed, but I do slow down when I hit something complex.

    "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." ó Abraham Lincoln

    I say there is an invisible elf in my backyard. How do you prove that I am wrong?

    The Leif Ericson Cruiser

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    3,110
    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    Vision is higher-speed, higher bandwidth and just as capable of conveying all the nuances as sound. Humans in particular are far more visually oriented than most mammals. So why do we still use sound to communicate?
    Compression, in a word. Compare pantomime to words. Language is highly compressed information, just think of the wealth of denotation and connation in, say, the word "lawyer". Then there's metaphor. Much is afoot in handy language.

    (just dropping by and this caught my eye)

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Norfolk UK and some of me is in Northern France
    Posts
    10,061
    It is true that context is vital. Language is garbage if you do not have that language. The london, or any, underground train map is an excellent example of visual information which would take a thousand words to describe. But it works because you know the cultural context as well as the words. Itis not bandwidth, it is shared symbolism.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Nowhere (middle)
    Posts
    39,870
    Quote Originally Posted by Hlafordlaes View Post
    Much is afoot in handy language.
    And let's not forget wordplay.

    But I'm pretty sure you can have compression in a sign language, it's not confined to verbal speech.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  5. #35
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    North Tonawanda, NY
    Posts
    3,984
    Evolution never invents something new based on how theoretically ideal it would be for the intended purpose. It modifies what's already there in some form. And our relatives have been communicating by sound since long long long long before language... or hands... or the current state of the human (or primate) visual system.

  6. #36
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Nowhere (middle)
    Posts
    39,870
    Quote Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
    Evolution never invents something new based on how theoretically ideal it would be for the intended purpose. It modifies what's already there in some form.
    That's an important point to remember. Evolution is not about efficiency or precision engineering, evolution is "good enough". Makes it all the more remarkable that it's achieved all it has, including us.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    5,717
    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    That's an important point to remember. Evolution is not about efficiency or precision engineering, evolution is "good enough". Makes it all the more remarkable that it's achieved all it has, including us.
    Yep, it makes for an interesting thought experiment. If you could re-design the human, what traits/efficiencies would you invoke?

  8. #38
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    The Great NorthWet
    Posts
    17,315
    Quote Originally Posted by cosmocrazy View Post
    Yep, it makes for an interesting thought experiment. If you could re-design the human, what traits/efficiencies would you invoke?
    May be worthy of a separate thread. How about getting rid of male pattern baldness?
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  9. #39
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    2,185
    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    May be worthy of a separate thread. How about getting rid of male pattern baldness?
    But that helps cool the active brain!
    SHARKS (crossed out) MONGEESE (sic) WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

  10. #40
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Norfolk UK and some of me is in Northern France
    Posts
    10,061
    Quote Originally Posted by cosmocrazy View Post
    Yep, it makes for an interesting thought experiment. If you could re-design the human, what traits/efficiencies would you invoke?
    Sticking to the thread topic I would provide a communication link to the emotional system to indicate the current state to others but also to self. This could be coloured patches on the skin for example or of the iris, (mirrors allowed) . It would be debatable whether this should be uncontrollable. We at the moment are limited to blushing, blanching and some facial contortion.

    Otherwise conscious control of the immune system would be useful, with it working into old age.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  11. #41
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    5,717
    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    May be worthy of a separate thread. How about getting rid of male pattern baldness?
    Good idea on both counts!

  12. #42
    Join Date
    Jun 2021
    Posts
    5
    We use sound for communication because it's faster. Yes, we read quickly, I do not argue. But in order for you to convey information to someone, you must first provide it to him. If we are talking about vision, then you first need to write, and then someone will read the information and then answer. And with the sound it is easier, you speak, and the interlocutor at the same time "digests" your information, and as soon as you have finished, he is immediately ready to give you an answer.

  13. #43
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    5,717
    Quote Originally Posted by Max Page View Post
    We use sound for communication because it's faster. Yes, we read quickly, I do not argue. But in order for you to convey information to someone, you must first provide it to him. If we are talking about vision, then you first need to write, and then someone will read the information and then answer. And with the sound it is easier, you speak, and the interlocutor at the same time "digests" your information, and as soon as you have finished, he is immediately ready to give you an answer.
    Depends on what you are communicating, how much information you are trying to convey and at what distance the information needs to travel.

    For example if you were to see someone from a distance aim a gun at you, would you wait for the sound of the shot before reaching for cover?

  14. #44
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Nowhere (middle)
    Posts
    39,870
    Quote Originally Posted by Max Page View Post
    We use sound for communication because it's faster. Yes, we read quickly, I do not argue. But in order for you to convey information to someone, you must first provide it to him. If we are talking about vision, then you first need to write, and then someone will read the information and then answer. And with the sound it is easier, you speak, and the interlocutor at the same time "digests" your information, and as soon as you have finished, he is immediately ready to give you an answer.
    Gestures and facial expressions can be done very quickly but their information density is low. We do have sign languages but verbal speech is faster.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  15. #45
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Peters Creek, Alaska
    Posts
    14,181
    Quote Originally Posted by cosmocrazy View Post
    For example if you were to see someone from a distance aim a gun at you, would you wait for the sound of the shot before reaching for cover?
    Not a fully satisfying analogy. I also wouldn't wait to see the muzzle flash before seeking cover.
    Forum Rules►  ◄FAQ►  ◄ATM Forum Advice►  ◄Conspiracy Advice
    Click http://cosmoquest.org/forum/images/buttons/report-40b.png to report a post (even this one) to the moderation team.


    Man is a tool-using animal. Nowhere do you find him without tools; without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all. ó Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)

  16. #46
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    5,717
    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    Not a fully satisfying analogy. I also wouldn't wait to see the muzzle flash before seeking cover.
    Good point, I suppose it depends on the distance and your reaction time.

    My point was that in certain situations I would prefer to rely on sight rather than sound, due to light travelling much faster than sound.

  17. #47
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    435
    Hello,

    On TVOntario's "The Agenda", "John Colapinto: What Makes Human Speech So Powerful?"

    https://www.tvo.org/video/john-colap...ch-so-powerful

    I did not pay close attention. He, and others, believe speech is what makes us exceptional. I believe our ability at commuication (and speech) is a consequence of our cognitive abilities. These abilities make us exceptional.

    YMMV,

  18. #48
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Nowhere (middle)
    Posts
    39,870
    Quote Originally Posted by 7cscb View Post
    Hello,

    On TVOntario's "The Agenda", "John Colapinto: What Makes Human Speech So Powerful?"

    https://www.tvo.org/video/john-colap...ch-so-powerful

    I did not pay close attention. He, and others, believe speech is what makes us exceptional. I believe our ability at commuication (and speech) is a consequence of our cognitive abilities. These abilities make us exceptional.

    YMMV,
    Agreed. Our ability to make meaningful words is a consequence of being able to mentally manipulate abstract symbols and assign them meanings. Take that away and it's all banana good Koko like banana.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  19. #49
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    15,015
    Quote Originally Posted by Max Page View Post
    We use sound for communication because it's faster. Yes, we read quickly, I do not argue. But in order for you to convey information to someone, you must first provide it to him. If we are talking about vision, then you first need to write, and then someone will read the information and then answer. And with the sound it is easier, you speak, and the interlocutor at the same time "digests" your information, and as soon as you have finished, he is immediately ready to give you an answer.
    I'm just pointing this out because people sometimes forget about this. Communication by speech and writing is very different. Speech is something we actually evolved to do, so it's part of our nature, essentially. All humans learn to communicate by speech unless they have hearing difficulties or other medical issues. But writing is a representation of speech that was developed and is not innate at all. So there are many people around the world who cannot read, and in fact just several centuries ago it was quite common for people not to read.

    I may be wrong, but I sort of interpreted the OP as asking, "why do we communicate by sound rather than with lights or something the way fireflies do?"
    As above, so below

  20. #50
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    15,015
    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    Vision is higher-speed, higher bandwidth and just as capable of conveying all the nuances as sound. Humans in particular are far more visually oriented than most mammals. So why do we still use sound to communicate?
    Actually, it occurred to me that perhaps this question has not really been asked. How do you imagine we could use vision to communicate? Are you imagining that we would use a system of lights like fireflies or something like that? Or are you thinking of gestures?
    As above, so below

  21. #51
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    5,755
    I'm thinking lights, but more like cuttlefish. Able to convey massive amounts of information through visual communication.
    "Occam" is the name of the alien race that will enslave us all eventually. And they've got razors for hands. I don't know if that's true but it seems like the simplest answer."

    Stephen Colbert.

  22. #52
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Nowhere (middle)
    Posts
    39,870
    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    I'm thinking lights, but more like cuttlefish. Able to convey massive amounts of information through visual communication.
    That sounds like a technically difficult feat of engineering. You'd need some kind of brain-computer interface to make it instantaneous, plus interpretive software and everyone learning to use it. And many would not have access to such technology.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  23. #53
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    15,015
    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    That sounds like a technically difficult feat of engineering. You'd need some kind of brain-computer interface to make it instantaneous, plus interpretive software and everyone learning to use it. And many would not have access to such technology.
    Thatís certainly true, but I think the interesting question is, why did we not evolve with such a system. There are creatures that evolved to communicate with lights. Why did we evolve to use sound for communication rather than some mechanism using light. I can think of a bunch of reasons, but there isnít enough room in the margin.
    As above, so below

  24. #54
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Nowhere (middle)
    Posts
    39,870
    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    That’s certainly true, but I think the interesting question is, why did we not evolve with such a system. There are creatures that evolved to communicate with lights. Why did we evolve to use sound for communication rather than some mechanism using light. I can think of a bunch of reasons, but there isn’t enough room in the margin.
    Evolution doesn't care what's more efficient or works better, it's undirected except by survival and reproduction. It has to build on what is already established. Mammals do not have chromatophores, neither did any of our ancestors all the way back. We do have lungs that expel air, which sometimes makes a noise. Nature used what was available.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  25. #55
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    15,015
    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Evolution doesn't care what's more efficient or works better, it's undirected except by survival and reproduction. It has to build on what is already established. Mammals do not have chromatophores, neither did any of our ancestors all the way back. We do have lungs that expel air, which sometimes makes a noise. Nature used what was available.
    Yes, thatís absolutely part of the answer. I think another factor is something that you and others have previously pointed out, that sound can go around corners. Another part of it might be cost. We are already breathing, which creates sound, so making a voice is just modifying that and doesnít require extra cost, while creating light entails extra energy.
    As above, so below

  26. #56
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Nowhere (middle)
    Posts
    39,870
    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Yes, that’s absolutely part of the answer. I think another factor is something that you and others have previously pointed out, that sound can go around corners. Another part of it might be cost. We are already breathing, which creates sound, so making a voice is just modifying that and doesn’t require extra cost, while creating light entails extra energy.
    We do use facial expressions and gestures (some form of gestural supplement to language may have been part of early development of speech).

    I don't know how much energy bioluminescence requires compared to verbal expression. Any form of communication requires brainpower, which no doubt uses far more energy for any given message.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  27. #57
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    North Tonawanda, NY
    Posts
    3,984
    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    That’s certainly true, but I think the interesting question is, why did we not evolve with such a system. There are creatures that evolved to communicate with lights. Why did we evolve to use sound for communication rather than some mechanism using light. I can think of a bunch of reasons, but there isn’t enough room in the margin.
    If I thought we were designed, not evolved, I'd throw in the point that the ability to communicate with somebody who's not looking at you makes sound a more ideal method, and that the speed difference only applies over differences too large to matter anyway.

    But, back to the evolutionary background, the difference between the environments we inhabit and the environments that cephalopods inhabit makes lights inherently more useful there than here. The ambient light level stays much closer to constant for them. For us, it's only like that at night and maybe arguably part of "twilight". In daylight, there's so much more light that it would call for an entire second mechanism to try to create enough light to compete with it. Even a magnesium flare isn't isn't as visible in daylight as a mild bioluminescence is in the dark, and that amount of light output, even if you come up with some way to do it without magnesium, would involve a level of energy discharge that I don't want to even think about with organic tissue (and that's without even considering how you plan to modulate it). Then, suppose you do have a system to manage that without turning the organism into a walking bomb; at night it would be not just momentarily blinding but even potentially injurious to observers' dark-adapted eyes. You might say you only had reflection/absorption in mind instead of bioluminescence, but that just means it can only be used when there's a light source available. So covering both would still mean you need at least two separate systems instead of one: a reflection/absorption-based one to be used in daylight, and also bioluminescence, either as a second "language" completely separate from the daylight system, or at least as a light source for the daylight system to work with at night. A combination of two separate systems is a tall evolutionary order, and just one leaves us unable to "speak" half of the time. Even just bioluminescence alone is a tall evolutionary order in an environment that's so well lit half of the time.

    To introduce another factor that's both evolutionary and engineeringary, I'll start by telling a little story. Before our ancestors had jaws, they had already developed a series of pairs of openings on the sides starting just behind the mouth, where water taken in through the mouth could exit there instead of going through the digestive system, and pass along gill surfaces while it was at it. The tissue between these openings developed a tendency to turn bony, and those bones could prop up the openings. The first set of gill strut bones was then available to help manipulate the shape of the oral opening, eventually forming joints and becoming jaws. In morays, even the next set behind that also became another set of jaws. But what happened to the remaining ones behind the jaws, in species that ended up without gills? Some of them are still around, having been reshaped & resized some more. They're called "pharyngeal arches" during early embrionic development, until they get reformed into other things that don't look so gill-strut-like anymore. They still tend to grow little bits of floating bone not jointed with the rest of the skeleton, and, because that area of the body tends to have mucous membranes nearby, any such bone can easily have some mucous membranes attached. Then, if those membranes get stretched out thin and partially separated from other tissues, they can vibrate independently, and also interact with an adjacent floating bone while doing so, since the bone's vibrational tendencies will also be different from those of the surrounding mass of tissue.

    And poof, you've just developed an acoustic organ with a vibrating membrane and one or more tiny bits of loose floating bone directly or indirectly connected to it. But what organ did I just describe the origin of? If you're thinking eardrums, you're right. And if you're thinking vocal chords, you're right. We listen and speak with variations of what is fundamentally the same organ. And that's not just a coincidence of our history; it's basic physics. That which is good at picking up sounds tends to also be good at producing them. Look up some simple general-encyclopedia-level electromechanical diagrams of what a microphone is and what a speaker is, and you'll see that they're pretty much the same thing with the cause-&-effect arrows pointing opposite directions; I've been known to use headphones as a microphone, with results that you'd never know weren't recorded with an actual microphone. Insects have also developed a variety of different kinds of hearing and sound-making organs on different parts of their bodies, but they're always fundamentally the same thing: a part of the exoskeleton that's just detached enough from the rest of it (while still connected by soft tissue membranes) to vibrate relatively freely. The difference between the listening structures and the sound-making structures is whether the vibrating element is made to vibrate by something the insect does or by an external sound.

    The same thing doesn't work for devices/organs that receive or produce light. You can't make one kind of thing and have it, maybe with minor modifications, both functionally receive light and produce & functionally modulate it. The closest thing there is to a single mechanism that's reversible and produces light when it's running one way and absorbs it when it's running the other way is blackbody radiation. The general rule that something that's good at absorbing radiation is also good at blackbody-radiating is why, for example, SR-71s were painted black; they would heat up primarily non-radiatively in flight, so radiative transfer would become a cooling mechanism for them once their temperatures got up there. But blackbody radiation is not useful for manipulating & conveying information. It's just noise following a pretty simple distribution curve. Communication needs to use something else to send signals, and something else-else to receive them. So that would require a species to independently evolve a couple of fundamentally different things.
    Last edited by Delvo; 2021-Jun-23 at 02:43 PM.

  28. #58
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    15,015
    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    We do use facial expressions and gestures (some form of gestural supplement to language may have been part of early development of speech).
    And an interesting thing is that in most cases, we (and other animals) use facial expressions and gestures to indicate emotions rather than to provide information. It's common to bare the teeth, for example, to show something like anger. The exception I guess is when we use gestures for simple information (like to indicate a number from 1 to 5) or for example to get someone's attention when they can't hear you through glass or something.
    As above, so below

  29. #59
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    15,015
    Quote Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
    If I thought we were designed, not evolved, I'd throw in the point that the ability to communicate with somebody who's not looking at you makes sound a more ideal method, and that the speed difference only applies over differences too large to matter anyway.
    Yes, that is definitely an important issue. Having a single ear is quite sufficient for hearing a sound coming from any direction, while to see things (because light is directional) you have to have eyes on different sides of your head.
    As above, so below

  30. #60
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Nowhere (middle)
    Posts
    39,870
    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    And an interesting thing is that in most cases, we (and other animals) use facial expressions and gestures to indicate emotions rather than to provide information. It's common to bare the teeth, for example, to show something like anger. The exception I guess is when we use gestures for simple information (like to indicate a number from 1 to 5) or for example to get someone's attention when they can't hear you through glass or something.
    Facial signaling is of lower information density than voice in humans, so what we can convey that way is limited. Though I've seen people have silent conversations using only expressions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Yes, that is definitely an important issue. Having a single ear is quite sufficient for hearing a sound coming from any direction, while to see things (because light is directional) you have to have eyes on different sides of your head.
    I'd say that one ear working is not quite sufficient for directional sound. I have personal experience that losing hearing in one ear makes it much harder to hear clear voices from that side.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •