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If we can't even talk with non-human animals from our own planet...

 
 
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2015 08:59 am
...Is trying to find aliens and talk with them pointless?
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Type: Question • Score: 6 • Views: 1,651 • Replies: 21
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Ragman
 
  2  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2015 09:44 am
@HesDeltanCaptain,
How about these aspects or considerations?

1. There are no aliens
2. if there are aliens, why would they even bother with this plant of apes? We'd not even be good entertainment or curiosity? They've seen enough by watching our broadcasts to want to steer completely clear. They take their vacations on other 'resort' planets that are a lot less self destructive and move towards plants that are far more civilized.
hydrated39
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2015 03:37 pm
@HesDeltanCaptain,
Well, not really.

The "three brains" theory says that there are three levels of our brain that have evolved over time -- one that is our reptilian brain (fight or flight), the second that is essentially emotions, and the third allowing us to use abstract logic.

Animals would theoretically be at that second level (with emotions) whereas humans can use abstract logic.

So based on that, aliens could have evolved to that next level, or even beyond that.

Plus, if there is alien animal life, people might want to actually understand it, because we're weird like that.
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maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2015 03:56 pm
@HesDeltanCaptain,
We can talk to non-human animals. In fact I do just that every day "yes, yes, you are a good doggie".

The problem is that they can't really understand what we say. That isn't our fault.

The hope is that we can meet some other species with the ability to understand us and communicate back.
Linkat
 
  2  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2015 03:58 pm
@HesDeltanCaptain,
I talk to my dog all the time --- and he talks back, just not with words. We converse all the time.

And what about that chimp that talks via sign language?
maxdancona
 
  -2  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2015 04:23 pm
@Linkat,
Chimanzees don't talk via sign language. That has been debunked scientifically. It is wishful thinking and projection by humans who really really want to be able to talk to chimps.

What do you mean by "converse"? If you mean "convey general basic emotional state such as happy or sad or frightened" than yes, I believe you do "converse" with your dog. I do the same thing with my dog.

But dogs don't really understand abstract ideas, or even complex feelings, as humans do. There is nothing even close to human language in any other species on Earth.

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maxdancona
 
  -2  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2015 04:44 pm
@Linkat,
Quote:

Every time the chimp made a sign, we were supposed to write it down in the log ... they were always complaining because my log didn't show enough signs. All the hearing people turned in logs with long lists of signs. They always saw more signs than I did ... I watched really carefully. This chimp's hands were moving constantly. Maybe I missed something, but I don't think so. I just wasn't seeing any signs. The hearing people were logging every movement the chimp made as a sign. Every time the chimp put his finger in his mouth, they'd say "Oh, he's making the sign for drink," and they'd give him some milk ... When the chimp scratched itself, they'd record it as the sign for scratch ... When [the chimps] want something, they reach. Sometimes [the trainers would] say, "Oh, amazing, look at that, it's exactly like the ASL sign for give!" It wasn't.


This quote is from a researcher on the Washoe team (a Chimp who could allegedly speak sign language). This researcher happened to be deaf and the only native speaker of sign language on the team.
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HesDeltanCaptain
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2015 06:59 am
@Ragman,
I think life is all over the place, but technologically evolved life few and far between. If you're a spacefaring civilization you'd probably make contact with everyone you come across unless there's so many tech-civilizations you can afford to be snooty. Smile
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HesDeltanCaptain
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2015 07:01 am
@maxdancona,
Have heard Jack Russels can understand over a hundred words. And they certainly get tone and some body language.
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HesDeltanCaptain
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2015 07:02 am
@Linkat,
I'm not convinced that that's actually language. More inclined to think mimicry or some kind of conditioned response thing going on. Make a certain sign for food, you get food. But that's not the same as language proper.
HesDeltanCaptain
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2015 07:06 am
Think the hope for alien communications lies in math or even binary. Some universals truths will exist and be communicable one species to another (assuming they both have that level of science.) Obviously a spacefaring species will have technological understanding far superior to our own including presumedly code breaking and linguistics making communication possible. One would hope in fact that before setting off to look for their version of aliens, communication would have been addressed. Smile

Raises an interesting question though: which language should we use? Which is easiest to pick up? Certainly not English if ESL students are any indication.
Linkat
 
  2  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2015 07:18 am
@HesDeltanCaptain,
Do you mean talk or communicate? To me, the communication is more important. Think of your every day life and how many people you talk to - how much do you communicate in words? How much is useless talk that you do not even listen to?

I guess I am discussing communication. You can communicate without talking and typically it is much more telling. Think of talking over the phone - then talking face to face - you communicate much more with expression and tone and using your body and hands.

I once was in Germany - I did not speak German (spoke French and a little Italien) - I was in a shop and the saleswoman and I did not have any common language. We had an entire conversation without words. I was looking for something particular and we were able to discuss it without understanding each other's language.

There are different ways on communicating and understanding each other without talking.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2015 07:19 am
@HesDeltanCaptain,
I thought the Arecibo Message (which we sent in 1974) was a good start

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/55/Arecibo_message.svg/125px-Arecibo_message.svg.png
HesDeltanCaptain
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2015 07:23 am
@maxdancona,
Probably redundant if we're radiating radio signals anyway.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2015 07:24 am
@Linkat,
That is an interesting point Linkat.

Linguists work on defining what it means to communicate. Of course there are different levels of this, a bird squawking a warning at an intruder is a form of communication, as is an ant laying down pheromones to signal a food source.

Human language is a special thing, and it is quite a bit more complex. Humans are able to express abstract ideas and to transmit motions.

If we make contact with an intelligent species, I hope it is more than a series of barks, clicks and growls.

Meaningful communication would mean being able to share ideas, beliefs and even emotions such as hope.





maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2015 07:29 am
@HesDeltanCaptain,
I don't think so Captain.

First, the radio signals we emit now aren't beamed into space, they are designed for Terran use and happen to leak into space. Second, the radio signals we emit are encoded, if you don't know the frame rate, or about frequency modulation you are going to have a hard time decoding them... especially if you are unfamiliar with what language or images to expect from Earth.

A simple easy to decode message that starts with counting 1-10 is much more likely to be understood, especially if we beam it into space with a high power, directed signal.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  2  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2015 08:03 am
@maxdancona,
This makes more support that we would be able to communicate to those intelligent beings from other planets...except of course if we are so much less evolved than them, then yes we would be like the barking dog.

Although I do think animals communicate their emotions - again differently than we do. Maybe not as complex emotions, but they certainly communicate them - I just remember when I had cats and left them going on vacation, they certainly communiated their displeasure at me leaving them -- there was no doubt on that.
HesDeltanCaptain
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2015 08:14 am
@Linkat,
In CNN's "Blackfish" documentary, orcas were said to have superior emotional intelligence than humans. Pity they lack opposable thumbs. Smile
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2015 08:32 am
@Linkat,
I think we should consider which cognitive abilities would allow for a mode of communication that would be useful to us as humans. I am not sure if the terms "more evolved" or "less evolved" are helpful.

Human language has the ability to express abstract ideas. I can describe something to you that you have never experienced yourself. I can explain my perspective to you and how I feel about something even if these are things you have never experienced yourself.

This seems like an ability that would be important for an alien species to have in order for humans to have a meaningful interaction with them.

There are many animals on Earth that have modes of communication that are inaccessible to humans. Ants communicate a lot of information with pheromones, and bees do a crazy little butt waving dance. Humans can try to replicate the butt waving dance... but what we are doing has nothing to do with bee communication. So sure... these aliens (just like ants and bees) might have some form of communication that relies on cognitive function that humans don't have and is beyond the ability of humans to use. This seems rather irrelevant. An alien that relies on some cognitive function that humans don't possess would be just as impossible to communicate with as ants or bees.

If humans are to have a meaningful conversation with some alien species, then this alien species has to have the specific cognitive abilities that will make this possible.

0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  2  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2015 03:47 pm
@HesDeltanCaptain,
HesDeltanCaptain wrote:

...Is trying to find aliens and talk with them pointless?

Just because we can't talk with them doesn't mean we couldn't interact with them in some way.

I think that even being able to observe extraterrestrial life (if we can find any) would be incredibly interesting, even if we couldn't interact.
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