Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
wtf

Hijack from monkeys typing Hamlet

Recommended Posts

This is where you show that you don't understand it.

I had this crazy thought and this is a thread hijack so please feel free to not read this.

 

But I had this thought. You get some monkeys and some typewriters. Or even better, an early version of a direct neural interface! The next generation of brain sensors and software is going to be incredible.

 

So you feed the monkeys a boring, bare subsistence diet. But anytime they type (or think) a coherent word, or even a word fragment, they get a reward. A banana chip or a strawberry or something. And now here is the idea. We always think of monkeys typing forever as if the monkeys are immortal. But instead, what if the monkeys are allowed to breed too? We have a whole colony of monkeys, and they each have an eight hour work shift, an eight hours sleep cycle, and eight hours of home life. Cable tv, sex, whatever monkeys do.

 

You'll note that what I described is no different than the life of the average middle class worker in our society. But I didn't come here to talk about sociology so I'll get on with it.

 

Now: Over multiple generations of breeding, what happens? Well, the monkeys who get more treats have higher status in the tribe, and therefore higher reproductive likelihood.

 

So we would breed monkeys to type word fragments ... then words ... then sentences.

 

The question is, Do you think the monkeys would get smarter over the years, and in a few generations or a few hundred, the would learn how to think abstractly ?

 

Just like us.

 

Oh thanks for listening to my idle thoughts for the day.

 

But really ... this is the deeper meaning of my earlier question.

 

How did a monkey named Shakespeare evolve to create his works?

 

What are the odds of that? And what does it mean that it happened to us?

 

That's the essence of the question about the monkeys. It's about how we ourselves managed to type out the complete work of Shakespeare in only 14 billion or so years since the big bang.

Edited by wtf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

akgeog woje gklkjlkqq;r0fmanrqo foff qlt;eq; fjf;LKFL Q EFKKk fkeq[eptimvnf qffjfewpa;ls ;fqfrg[jqwirotwjfl3of 8 lfald

 

Note: It's not working yet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's no such thing as "evolution" as we define it.

 

If you want smarter monkeys you simply select the monkeys that are "smarter" (compose more words) and breed them.

 

Of course there's no such thing as "smart" either so you'll be in for a rude awakening when your "experiment" is successful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

/cut

 

Now that I've read this with attention, I think it's interesting thinking!

 

It is not clear to me that the monkeys will ever care what they are typing. I don't see how them typing a combination of preset letter will get them thinking or even understanding it. Think of it like this:

You awake in an alien land surrounded by machines you cannot fathom and beings you do not understand. They give you letters (gibberish to you) and reward you (in whatever way) when you match these letters into word. Now, they NEVER explain to you what these mean or what you have just done. Do you think that you would ever understand what you have done if you have received nothing but reinforcement when typing what they find coherent? Then the process would have the more complicated if you think about understanding it.

 

They would eventually have to introduce semantics and you would need to get sequences of words in the correct order for a reward. Then, these will become obsolete and you will have to guess new sequences. But the main point is, you are just sitting and typing. You NEVER have anything to connect your typing to. The people who decyphered hyeroglyphs had context, position, referral, not to mention shapes which resemble something etc. It is not clear to me that even YOU would ever get anything out of it in such a scenario you've described.

 

Anyway, I'm not sure if only this specific scenario interests you or if you want to talk about the general advancement of monkeys' understanding. You are aware, are you not, of Koko the gorilla? She has been taught sign language. She talks as if a mute person would. If she seeks to describe something which hasn't been established, she and her trainer search for new signs and descriptions. She watches movies and comments on them; expresses emotion. She paints and she exhibits a lot of behaviour which you might think only human would. So definitely check her out if you haven't.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I must say I'm puzzled that my post about evolution would be moved to Speculations. Did this become a Creationist website? All praise the Baby Jesus then, and God who created the world in six days and rested on Sunday.

 

So if everyone is so sure my thought experiment is so unrealistic, then how to you explain the fact that it already happened? Are you saying it's too big a leap to start the monkeys on typewriters, and we should start them out making marks in the sand with a stick? That's probably how we got started.

 

But that's not an objection to my point, it's just a refinement to the experiment. Ok we start them out with sticks and reward them for making meaningful marks. Eventually they'll invent typewriters, just like we did. What, you think our typewriters fell from the sky?

 

How does everyone suppose the primates Homo Sapiens managed to write the complete works of Shakespeare in only 14 billion years since the big bang?

 

I'm simply astonished to find people on a science forum taking exception to the idea that a group of monkeys would evolve written language. Have the public schools gotten this bad?

Edited by wtf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I must say I'm puzzled that my post about evolution would be moved to Speculations. Did this become a Creationist website? All praise the Baby Jesus then, and God who created the world in six days and rested on Sunday.

 

So if everyone is so sure my thought experiment is so unrealistic, then how to you explain the fact that it already happened? Are you saying it's too big a leap to start the monkeys on typewriters, and we should start them out making marks in the sand with a stick? That's probably how we got started.

 

But that's not an objection to my point, it's just a refinement to the experiment. Ok we start them out with sticks and reward them for making meaningful marks. Eventually they'll invent typewriters, just like we did. What, you think our typewriters fell from the sky?

 

How does everyone suppose the primates Homo Sapiens managed to write the complete works of Shakespeare in only 14 billion years since the big bang?

 

I'm simply astonished to find people on a science forum taking exception to the idea that a group of monkeys would evolve written language. Have the public schools gotten this bad?

They probably didn't know where to put it and it's no less a good question or idea for being here. Just because most of the stuff here is crap doesn't mean yours is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So if everyone is so sure my thought experiment is so unrealistic, then how to you explain the fact that it already happened? Are you saying it's too big a leap to start the monkeys on typewriters, and we should start them out making marks in the sand with a stick? That's probably how we got started.

 

 

One obvious difference is that we had language for a long time before we invented writing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm simply astonished to find people on a science forum taking exception to the idea that a group of monkeys would evolve written language. Have the public schools gotten this bad?

That is not the the experiment or process you proposed. Language involves the use of symbols to represent various types of concept. The concepts precede the symbols. When our ancestors first agreed on a word for rain, they knew what rain was and understood the relationship of the word "rain" to the phenomenon.

 

The process you have proposed for evolving language in monkeys eliminates their understanding of the meaning of the words they type accidentally. I'm simply astonished to find someone on a science forum proposing such a distorted experiment that reveals a misconception of the nature of language and of sound experiment. Have the public schools gotten this bad?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The question is, Do you think the monkeys would get smarter over the years, and in a few generations or a few hundred, the would learn how to think abstractly ?

 

Chimp giving instruction how to open door to human:

 

Chimp playing pacman

 

And obviously famous Chimp beating Human in remembering numbers in the right sequence:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I must say I'm puzzled that my post about evolution would be moved to Speculations. Did this become a Creationist website? All praise the Baby Jesus then, and God who created the world in six days and rested on Sunday.

 

 

Your thinking seems to be that humans are the crown of creation and therefore evolutionary progress will turn all animals into humans given time.

 

This is obviously flawed. Whales once walked on land but regressed to swim in the ocean. If they were going to get smart then why would they evolve to live in the oceans? You're assuming that the accumulated knowledge needed create technology arises through evolution while obviously language is the means each human has to acquire and expand human knowledge. You're assuming that change in species is directed by some being or intelligence that directs it in the same path humans are taking. You're making a great number of assumptions.

 

There's nothing to drive your monkeys to creating works of art so no matter how many billions or trillions of years they toil away they will never evolve. Evolution is drive by births and deaths and not whether or not we want them to write a play.

 

 

One obvious difference is that we had language for a long time before we invented writing.

 

So the assumption is that people who lived before writing weren't as smart.

 

It follows that evolution is making us ever smarter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Your thinking seems to be that humans are the crown of creation and therefore evolutionary progress will turn all animals into humans given time.

 

 

Nope. He didn't say that.

 

 

 

This is obviously flawed. Whales once walked on land but regressed to swim in the ocean.

 

They didn't "regress". The evolved to use a different environment.

 

 

So the assumption is that people who lived before writing weren't as smart.

 

Why on Earth would you think that? There is no evidence that people were less smart before the invention of writing.

 

 

It follows that evolution is making us ever smarter.

 

Do you have any evidence for that?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey wtf, you need to make your intentions with this post clear.

It has occured to me that you primarily wish to discuss the philosophy of probability and how this relates to us evolving into humans and then writing Hamlet, whereas the mathematical probability of that happening is so low, that it wouldn't be expected to ever happen.

 

The rest of your post is diffferent, with the machines and breeding. It is a different argument alltogether. There are much simpler ways to get monkeys to understand language. See my example of Koko the gorilla and Sensei's videos.

 

You need to make it clear to me if you want to discuss the former or the latter. The latter is a discussion about evolution, linguistics, psychology etc. whereas the former is a discusiion about philosophy of probability. I think that both cannot be discussed in the same thread, as they are such different topics.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But OP has nothing to do with evolution per se. Learning and teaching words are passed on independently of genes. Likewise, the development of a language would also be an independent mechanism. One could try to select for those that show the highest prowess in solving language-associated problems. But that would be independent of (or at best co-dependent) on the development of language.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.