MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: What is the difference between intelligent life and nonsentient life?

Date: Fri Nov 13 10:42:26 1998
Posted By: Peter Drake, Grad student, Computer Science & Cognitive Science, Indiana University
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 910907350.Gb

There is no generally-accepted answer to this question.  Many criteria for
intelligence/sentience/consciousness have been suggested, including:

Tool use.  (Chimpanzees and some birds make and use primitive tools.)

Language use.  (The jury is still out on the degree to which various
nonhuman animals use language.)

Learning / adaptation.  (Dogs can learn, and even microscopic organisms can
"learn" to behave differently.)

You might enjoy the book "The Mind's I", edited by Hofstadter and Dennett,
which explores some of the issues involved in this question.

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