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THE LIVING

Stable phenomenon over billions of years on a planet, which constructs and animates interdependent living beings in matter, to which human being belongs.

1-Living / 3-Human capacities / 0

Human species technical capacities

 

Since the first stone used as hammers, knives or projectiles... until today, the manufacture of digital tools capable of reproducing some of his reasoning with better performance (time response, precision), going so far as to create the term "artificial intelligence" showing the doubts he has about his own capacities and achievements... homo sapiens has clearly shown extremely advanced technical capacities to understand his environment and its properties, and to use them to build tools adapted to all the scales of his environment.

The deployment of tools that can reproduce all our tasks in all areas is now widespread: the work of cashier, ATMs for banks, door to door and all administrative services gradually automated on our smartphones, driving of a subway, a train, a car... piloting commercial and combat aircrafts, satellites, rockets, robots for space exploration, etc ...

Today the demonstration has been done: yes the human species is capable of building tools in all fields that can carry out in an automated way practically all of its activities and with better performances.

 

Always in an attempt to step back as much as possible, we could group the technical skills of the human species into three categories:

  • Ability to describe: ability to describe the world around, to understand its nature, its properties and its interactions, theoretically from minus infinity to plus infinity in all its dimensions, to formalize it and exchange this description between individuals (oral, written).

 

  • Ability to build: make use of this world description to build in matter the tools to live and protect ourselves, little by little on all scales of space and time.

 

  • Ability to anticipate: ability to describe the future, in particular to understand and identify the risks, by analogies / projections of the description of the world that we have.

 

At the center of these capacities built by the Living, is our central nervous system (the brain), an organ for processing information and quantities which enables the analysis and representation of the world, provided with a spontaneous curiosity that search for the edges of the world, with tools which universal formalization would be the mathematics.

The history of the living and the capacities of the human species presented in this way can lead us to rethink certain philosophical references that we have inherited from our history.

For example, to address only one relatively central in our Western culture in 2020, "the separation of body and mind": the fact that the mind would be a superior realization of nature that would take us out of the "animal" world, which can almost go so far as to make us forget that we are above all by nature living beings, included and similar to all living beings.

We can for example easily retain from our philosophy courses:

 

"I think, therefore I am"

 

(Principes de la philosophie, René Descartes, 1644 - translated into Latin "Cogito, ergo sum")

 

which taught to young humans early enough can give them a reference, by the powerful simplicity of the formula which looks like a theorem, that "thinking" would be a kind of primary and ultimate nature of human beings, which could then become a form of implicit over-requirement in our lives.

This sentence is actually a logical error. "I think" is not a sufficient condition for "being", it is not a sufficient condition for our existence (one should know that in 1644 the human species had only a very partial idea of ​​what matter was, or what living beings are made of and how they function - knowledge of the world below the cellular scale could only be truly accessible from 1900, so very recently - these old legacies must therefore be considered with a
critical eye).

(By the way, the use of the terms “sufficient condition” and “necessary condition” in mathematical logic could be revisited, because the word “condition” means in itself “prior hypothesis”. This word therefore generates a confusion of meaning in the statement "necessary condition" since this expresses that it is a "consequence of another hypothesis" and not a "prior hypothesis", a "condition". To be clearer, we could therefore replace “necessary condition” by “necessary consequence”; retain "sufficient condition"; and replace "necessary and sufficient condition" by "necessary and sufficient proposition" in case of equivalence).

 

The true implication is the reverse:

 

"I am, therefore I think"
 

To be understood: "I am a human living being, so I have the capacity to think", so I can use my intellectual capacities for analysis, conception, invention, imagination... but I can also not do it. I can sometimes not think and do lots of other things that will not directly be an action of thinking: I can sleep, eat, dance, have sex, defend myself against an aggressor, practice a sport,... all participating in my reality of nature of living being.

It seems that Descartes had pursued his development more broadly in a different form (ego sum, ego existo: "I am, I exist"), which we learn less often at school, and which would better reflect this starting point,which is a mystery (
cf. 1-Living / 1-Origin / 9), of the existence by nature of the living beings.

We can also sometimes hear "the world is mathematical". In the same way this proposition is said in reverse and should rather be formulated: “mathematics can describe the world”;  or in other words, "the world is, and the human species has a capacity to describe the world, its forms, its dimensions, its movements, its interactions,... description that can be done using tools which formalization is called mathematics".

 

The description of the world that we all build for ourselves during our lifetime is therefore essential because it is our guide at every moment to build the present and anticipate the risks that we will have to overcome tomorrow. As a result, it then seems essential to conserve and train our ability to correct, complete or even transform this representation of the world that we have in order to avoid seeing it frozen in "beliefs in ever Truth" which does not allow us to protect us from the next meteorite that will strike the Earth.

In this way, generation after generation, the attitude of the elders towards the younger ones is therefore, not to dominate them with their knowledge, but to transfer them what they have understood about the world, the younger receiving this heritage with respect, and to remind them that they can do better to go further the day after ...

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Unlimited technical realizations ...

 

With our knowledge spreading more and more every day across the spectrum of the world, all matter and space, from the largest to the smallest, the farthest back, and now also far ahead, we are able to build tools which performances in space and time are simply far away from ours.

We can illustrate these capacities by many machines already built, "robots" which for the moment do not resemble us, and therefore destabilize us less because they seem unrelated to us, but which, nevertheless, are robots which have completely passed the performances accessible by our own condition:

  • A commercial aircraft is a practically autonomous robot, which can carry up to 800 people (A380 - 550 tonnes max load) with a reliability greater than our natural probability of dying, with a time response for its fastest action chain of 50ms; when the transmission time of a single neuron in a human sensory / motor chain is already 40ms (if we consider that there are at least 3 neurons in series in any reaction / action chain in humans , this gives a minimum reaction time of 120ms).

 

  • Particle accelerators are robots that manipulate and observe matter on the scale of elementary particles (below the scale of an atom); when our scale of manipulation of matter is rather around the order of magnitude of the apple.

 

  • Laser interferometers are robots that observe the space-time movements of the universe through the deformations of the Earth at the atomic scale; when our field of 3D representation of our environment extends, through vision, over a few kilometers, and a very specific range of the ambient electromagnetic field (light).

 

  • Internet is a planetary robot which can archive all our knowledge and establish communications between all points of the globe. It allows for example to give a course to a class spread over the whole world (MOOC); when we ourselves, without any tools, will only teach at most a hundred people at a time located at a reasonable distance.

 

All these machines, tools, which one could very well call “robots” in the sense that they are all homogeneous in nature and architecture: made up of sensors, computers, and actuators; are robots that have far superior performance to ours, for the function they operate, in matter, space and time.

The only design limit, beyond the maturity of such or such a sensor or actuator at a given moment, would be to know how to describe what we want. That is to say in conclusion that there will be no real limit: we already live it on a daily basis, technology can just as easily give us all a smartphone with all the services of the Earth on it ... or take us to the moon.


As far as the relational and emotional dimensions of the human species are concerned, this is also feasible: we need to describe them, and then translate them into code to parametrized robots reactions. Even randomness and uncertainty can be reproduced by a programmed machine, just like the staging of amorous behavior. As the actors play all human emotions without being their own, and the spectator feels them as if they were real, we can make our machines mimic all our behaviors and more. How about a humanoid robot moving and behaving exactly like a leopard, or anything else ...

1-Living / 3-Human capacities / 2

Non-living machines

However, all these "machines", which could very well resemble us and deceive us by mimicking our behavior, why not by reproducing mimicry down to the atomic scale; who will be able to answer all the questions in the universe faster than us; doing our tasks with more precision, speed and permanence, ... are machines that are not alive.

To imagine that a machine could be "alive" we would already need to have knowledge of what makes living beings exist, knowledge of its driving principle. And if we had knowledge of the driving principle of living things, we would then need to have the ability to « master it », in order to finally be able to « infuse it » into our machines.

As stated in the page "The Living origin?", it is possible that we never know what makes the living exist, considering our nature and our capacities. The “living / non-living” border should allow us to give ourselves a solid referential to give a place of meaning to our technologies in the world.

In conclusion, whatever the tools, their performance, their resemblance to a human or any other living being, there should remain this clear border between:

 

  • living beings: spontaneously self-constructed and animated set of matter (autopoiesis), whose construction process is homogeneous at all points (cells), whose source principle seems to be part of the permanent principles of the universe (in the same way as the "elastic properties" of space emptiness, space-time, gravitation, which create all the structures of the universe, ...);

  • technologies: assemblies of heterogeneous elements of matter constructed by "external agents" (living beings or other tools), which "capacity to operate" is ensured by this "external agent", the result of which may possibly resemble us and reproduce all our facts and gestures, our reasoning, and in a better way (accuracy, response time, etc.), why not deceive ourselves at the heart of our living reactions, but which will never be living.

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... and limitless anticipation skills

As we have seen previously, being able to describe our world gives us the ability to anticipate, by analogies / projection of what is known. Today we have a large view of our future, from the near to the very far:

  • The Earth with its climatic changes, its ice ages, the next of which should arrive in a relatively short time: around several millennia. Let see how all the dynamics integrate with the current warming up, it could finally be an opportunity to give us a few hundred more years before the return of the great cold and to know how to manage it for humanity and for life ;

 

  • Its plate tectonics (meeting of all the continents in one in some 250 million years).

 

  • The nearby space environment: impact of meteorites, ...

 

  • Our sun, and more generally of our solar system: in particular the complete disappearance of the Earth and the real risk of disappearance of the life started on earth with the evolution of the sun. There would only be about a billion years of viability left on Earth;

 

  • Our galaxy and its neighbors: with a potential meeting of the Milky Way with Andromeda in 4 billion years.

This knowledge is therefore a real opportunity for the whole Living in its earth and spatial context: "we are no longer like dinosaurs who, "ignorant of everything", can only disappear with the next meteorite striking the Earth or with the sun inflation..."

Capacities adapted to their context

 

If we review the progression of living beings throughout their history, the optimization of all their functions over time (vital functions, limbs, etc.), we can realize that even the appearance of these technical capacities has a certain consistency: life then at its peak in terms of massive construction of living beings, with terrestrial living beings never equaled in size (dinosaurs), was practically annihilated by a 10km pebble that fell on Earth, producing a gigantic explosion equivalent to a billion nuclear bombs and reactivating tectonic phenomena all over the planet.

After this cataclysm, as each time in the past on the earth, the living starts off, abounds and develops new living beings. Here, after barely 60 million years, not much on the scale of the 3 billion years of evolution of life on Earth, the Living develops these capacities which today can protect it from a pebble that would strike the planet. Whether or not we understand how it works, living beings in their context on Earth are given themselves the means to no longer disappear with a meteorite that would strike the Earth.

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Homo sapiens, of same nature as all other living beings, truly built in matter composed of stardust (the atoms of which we are made being concretely "built" in the heart of the stars), would therefore have an important role for all other species due to this highly developed technical capacity which allows him to consider making life perennial through space up to the stars beyond the Earth disparition.

 

It is therefore up to us to make a good use of this technological capacity to be relevant for the future, relevant for the whole Living, as we are part of this phenomenon and we cannot live alone "outside the Living" ...

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