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Old 10-14-2019, 01:12 AM   #41
Johnny1A.2
 
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Default Re: [Space] How alien are your aliens?

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
We have no idea how true aliens will think because they are not related to us at all, so we really have no idea how generalizable our emotions are. For example, humans share 50% of their genes with pine trees, so we have more in common with plants than any true alien.
Except that trees are, as far as we know, not self-aware. We don't know anything about the nature of sapiency, as such, since we're the only known example, we don't know how different from us it can be, or how much like us it would have to be. No data.
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Old 10-14-2019, 03:00 AM   #42
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Default Re: [Space] How alien are your aliens?

We don't know any extraterrestrials. But I still say they have to have certain basic drives to have reached any real stage of technological development. Aggression with respect to expansion and proactive self defense, etc.
Of course I don't see humor as necessary to advanced sapience.
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Old 10-14-2019, 07:31 AM   #43
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Default Re: [Space] How alien are your aliens?

The problem with that is that it anthropomorphosizes aliens. For an alien species to become technological, they really only need a) adequate intelligence to reasonably predict the short term future, b) a physiology that allows them to use tools, c) a physiology vulnerable enough to force them to depend on technology, d) a physiology strong enough to allow them to use large tools, e) a society capable of protecting enough members to allow for its own survival, and f) a society capable of transmitting technological knowledge across generations. On the Earth, humans are the only species that fill all six criteria (apes lack a, elephants lack c, parrots lack d, whales lack b, etc.).

Beyond that, feel free to speculate any psychology because it will be equally valid as any other speculation. Heck, languages shape emotions by changing the way that people interpret the world, so someone who just speaks English has subtly different emotions than someone who just speaks Cantonese, and I expect the same to apply to aliens. There will likely be plenty of aliens who find love and hate to be strange human concepts that give too much weight to attraction and repulsion.
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Old 10-14-2019, 07:40 AM   #44
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Default Re: [Space] How alien are your aliens?

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Originally Posted by Johnny1A.2 View Post
Except that trees are, as far as we know, not self-aware. We don't know anything about the nature of sapiency, as such, since we're the only known example, we don't know how different from us it can be, or how much like us it would have to be. No data.
On the other hand, since we don't have a firm definition of sapience, we'll likely have to fall back on "how much like us are they?"

Pretty much everything we thought was unique about humans seems to be shared on at least some level by one animal or another. Chimps and corvids use tools, prairie dogs may have a simple language, dolphins have unique song elements to identify themselves as individuals (i.e. names).
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Old 10-14-2019, 08:27 AM   #45
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Default Re: [Space] How alien are your aliens?

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
The problem with that is that it anthropomorphosizes aliens.
To be fair, we anthropomorphize almost everything, and especially complex things. Its one of the tools we use to comprehend the world.

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  1. adequate intelligence to reasonably predict the short term future,
  2. a physiology that allows them to use tools,
  3. a physiology vulnerable enough to force them to depend on technology,
  4. a physiology strong enough to allow them to use large tools,
  5. a society capable of protecting enough members to allow for its own survival,
  6. a society capable of transmitting technological knowledge across generations.
Its not a bad start for such a list. I think #1, #2, and #6 are the core of it, with #3-#5 being components of #2 and #6. We could probably unpack more "Subrequirements". I will admit I'm not sure what you mean by "Large Tools". I'm guessing you mean in relation to their body size.

I don't think that all speculated psychologies are equally valid though. There are a lot of unknowns, but some psychologies are more sloppily constructed than others, and they do need to satisfy some basic biological needs.

I suspect invertebrate (which is to say, non-chordate) brains are sufficiently removed from ours to be essentially alien. Yes, the neural nets probably evolved only once, but I doubt those have much of an impact on psychology*. Abstract thought and navigation are likely to have a different path for each phylum (though only some phyla are useful for this). And while all animals evolved on the same earth, they had different physical inputs, and are based on animals that filled very disparate niches.

* though exploring things like a mechanism other than neurotransmitters could be an awesome way to modify alien psychology.
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Old 10-14-2019, 10:56 AM   #46
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Default Re: [Space] How alien are your aliens?

Neurotransmitters are just hormones produced by neurons for communications. I don't see how anything could take their place for realistic complex physical life. Intelligence needs a nervous system, IMO.
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Old 10-14-2019, 11:05 AM   #47
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Default Re: [Space] How alien are your aliens?

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
The problem with that is that it anthropomorphosizes aliens. For an alien species to become technological, they really only need a) adequate intelligence to reasonably predict the short term future, b) a physiology that allows them to use tools, c) a physiology vulnerable enough to force them to depend on technology, d) a physiology strong enough to allow them to use large tools, e) a society capable of protecting enough members to allow for its own survival, and f) a society capable of transmitting technological knowledge across generations. On the Earth, humans are the only species that fill all six criteria (apes lack a, elephants lack c, parrots lack d, whales lack b, etc.).

Beyond that, feel free to speculate any psychology because it will be equally valid as any other speculation. Heck, languages shape emotions by changing the way that people interpret the world, so someone who just speaks English has subtly different emotions than someone who just speaks Cantonese, and I expect the same to apply to aliens. There will likely be plenty of aliens who find love and hate to be strange human concepts that give too much weight to attraction and repulsion.
That's the Worf-Sapir hypothesis, and I don't think many professional linguists believe it much anymore.

I'm not anthropomorphising aliens. I just believe that, because they are physical life forms, they have to evolve certain basic features to attain advanced technological levels.
Aggression is necessary for any mobile animal-like creature to survive. Intelligence merely makes it more expansive and successful.
Curiosity is also necessary for advancement.
Strong parental/guardian desires are also necessary for early education and cognitive development. Turning this on and off for certain age/caste groups rather than just weakening it like in us would be less likely in my opinion but at least possible.
Attraction and repulsion are too innate to basic biological functionality, IMO, to not naturally evolve in complex life. It's the pleasure/pain response. I just do not see what could possibly take its place that wouldn't simply be the same thing but with a different name.
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Old 10-14-2019, 01:05 PM   #48
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Default Re: [Space] How alien are your aliens?

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On the other hand, since we don't have a firm definition of sapience, we'll likely have to fall back on "how much like us are they?"

Pretty much everything we thought was unique about humans seems to be shared on at least some level by one animal or another. Chimps and corvids use tools, prairie dogs may have a simple language, dolphins have unique song elements to identify themselves as individuals (i.e. names).
Yet in each case, the difference in degree is so enormous as to still amount to a difference in kind.
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Old 10-14-2019, 01:11 PM   #49
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Default Re: [Space] How alien are your aliens?

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To be fair, we anthropomorphize almost everything, and especially complex things. Its one of the tools we use to comprehend the world.
And like any tool, it can be applied well or badly.

We anthropomorphize pets, for ex, to a huge degree. But it's far less of an error when applied to a pet dog or cat than it is to a pet python or cobra. People speak of their animals loving them, including a degree of anthropomorphism in so doing. Yet it's not necessarily false of a dog or a cat, just incomplete or imperfect. People who imagine that their pet python 'loves them back' are probably mainly engaging in self-deception.

But there's more to it than just genetic kinship. A chimp is a far closer relative of Man than a dog, but because we've bred dogs for millennia to work with us, in some ways anthropomorphic thinking maps onto dogs better than it does chimps.

But true aliens? Would we instinctively anthropomorphize a creature that can't even experience the same environment we do? (A methane-based creature who lives at Titanian temperatures, for ex.) Hard to say.
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