On Being Human

Written by Sam Vaknin


Are we human because of unique traits and attributes not shared with either animal or machine? The definition of "human" is circular: we are human by virtue ofrepparttar properties that make us human (i.e., distinct from animal and machine). It is a definition by negation: that which separates us from animal and machine is our "human-ness".

We are human because we are not animal, nor machine. But such thinking has been rendered progressively less tenable byrepparttar 122353 advent of evolutionary and neo-evolutionary theories which postulate a continuum in nature between animals and Man.

Our uniqueness is partly quantitative and partly qualitative. Many animals are capable of cognitively manipulating symbols and using tools. Few are as adept at it as we are. These are easily quantifiable differences - two of many.

Qualitative differences are a lot more difficult to substantiate. Inrepparttar 122354 absence of privileged access torepparttar 122355 animal mind, we cannot and don't know if animals feel guilt, for instance. Do animals love? Do they have a concept of sin? What about object permanence, meaning, reasoning, self-awareness, critical thinking? Individuality? Emotions? Empathy? Is artificial intelligence (AI) an oxymoron? A machine that passesrepparttar 122356 Turing Test may well be described as "human". But is it really? And if it is not - why isn't it?

Literature is full of stories of monsters - Frankenstein,repparttar 122357 Golem - and androids or anthropoids. Their behaviour is more "humane" thanrepparttar 122358 humans around them. This, perhaps, is what really sets humans apart: their behavioural unpredictability. It is yielded byrepparttar 122359 interaction between Mankind's underlying immutable genetically-determined nature - and Man's kaleidoscopically changing environments.

The Constructivists even claim that Human Nature is a mere cultural artefact. Sociobiologists, onrepparttar 122360 other hand, are determinists. They believe that human nature - beingrepparttar 122361 inevitable and inexorable outcome of our bestial ancestry - cannot berepparttar 122362 subject of moral judgment.

An improved Turing Test would look for baffling and erratic patterns of misbehaviour to identify humans. Pico della Mirandola wrote in "Oration onrepparttar 122363 Dignity of Man" that Man was born without a form and can mould and transform - actually, create - himself at will. Existence precedes essence, saidrepparttar 122364 Existentialists centuries later.

The one defining human characteristic may be our awareness of our mortality. The automatically triggered, "fight or flight", battle for survival is common to all living things (and to appropriately programmed machines). Not sorepparttar 122365 catalytic effects of imminent death. These are uniquely human. The appreciation ofrepparttar 122366 fleeting translates into aesthetics,repparttar 122367 uniqueness of our ephemeral life breeds morality, andrepparttar 122368 scarcity of time gives rise to ambition and creativity.

In an infinite life, everything materializes at one time or another, sorepparttar 122369 concept of choice is spurious. The realization of our finiteness forces us to choose among alternatives. This act of selection is predicated uponrepparttar 122370 existence of "free will". Animals and machines are thought to be devoid of choice, slaves to their genetic or human programming.

Yet, all these answers torepparttar 122371 question: "What does it mean to be human" - are lacking.

The set of attributes we designate as human is subject to profound alteration. Drugs, neuroscience, introspection, and experience all cause irreversible changes in these traits and characteristics. The accumulation of these changes can lead, in principle, torepparttar 122372 emergence of new properties, or torepparttar 122373 abolition of old ones.

Animals and machines are not supposed to possess free will or exercise it. What, then, about fusions of machines and humans (bionics)? At which point does a human turn into a machine? And why should we assume that free will ceases to exist at that - rather arbitrary - point?

Time is an Illusion or How to get more things done today 3 of 3

Written by Ken Myrback


Everyone has heardrepparttar phrase, my how time flies when your having fun. Well, I am here to tell you itís true. Because time as most people perceive it is an illusion. Youíre probably wondering what I'm talking about, of course that's why youíre reading this article. Before I started writing this article I repeated to my self several times that " one minute is as five " meaning that for every minute that passed it would be as if I had done five minutes of work. Most everyone has experienced this time distortion. Say for example your in a very long boring meeting or a lecture or any mind numbing activity. Now you will swearrepparttar 122352 person has been speaking for at least an hour. But when you look at your watch you realize with some shock and horror that only ten minutes has passed. This is time slowing down. The opposite is true as well, when your having fun doing something you really enjoy you figure an hour has gone by and you look at your watch and you have been doing that activity not for an hour but for three hours. The reason this occurs is because time is fluid but itís notrepparttar 122353 same for everyone. Letís takerepparttar 122354 lecture as an example. To yourepparttar 122355 boring lecture felt like an hour, torepparttar 122356 lecturer who is nervous it may have seemed like two hours. But, torepparttar 122357 fellow three rows up who is very interested inrepparttar 122358 subject ofrepparttar 122359 lecture it seemed like only a few minutes. Now, who is correct? Well in fact all of you are correct, in your perception of time. You see thatís how it works; itís your perception of time that is fluid. Once you understand that you can change how you perceive time then you can control time in your life. Unfortunately that does not mean that you can get home in rush hour traffic in ten minutes when it normally takes you an hour. But you can control how you perceive that hour. You see man createdrepparttar 122360 concept of time help him control and categorize his world. This was done by dividing uprepparttar 122361 things he saw in nature IErepparttar 122362 seasons andrepparttar 122363 smaller time bits likerepparttar 122364 phases ofrepparttar 122365 moon andrepparttar 122366 still smaller bits ofrepparttar 122367 rising and setting ofrepparttar 122368 sun into smaller and smaller chunks so that he could better arrange his life. Though what has been mostly forgotten is time is an illusion.

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