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  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf View Post
    Zerg: How do you know there's no planning?
    I don't, however, almost all of what happens in natural processes describable by things that are unplanned and just happen to work a certain way, so for the purposes of comparison, natural processes are very likely to be unplanned.

  2. #32
    Senior Member HilbertSpace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zergling View Post
    I don't, however, almost all of what happens in natural processes describable by things that are unplanned and just happen to work a certain way, so for the purposes of comparison, natural processes are very likely to be unplanned.
    Absolutely not. That's the point of this thread (well, one of them). We might consider it "unplanned" in the sense that there isn't a Master Programmer, but it's certainly not what I would call unplanned, either.

    Living systems learn to interpret signals from the environment. To the extent that they can, they can also incorporate the time-based nature of signals - they can easily learn that one thing precedes another. We can see this in everything from animal learning models to physiological responses.

    Specifically, we can say that living organisms perform an evolutionary exploration of phenotypic space. We can think about it in terms of stimulus-response, but that's an over-simplification. First, when a stimulus precedes an event, the organism can learn to associate the two (like in chemotaxis, where a microorganism will swim towards food or away from poison). Ants can store food for lean times (even your body cells, without conscious thought, do this).

    We see planning throughout nature as a result of iterative adaptations of bodies and behaviors.
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  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by HilbertSpace View Post
    We see planning throughout nature as a result of iterative adaptations of bodies and behaviors.
    We're using a different definition of "planned" than. When I say "planned", it means something has considered the possibilities for a process or object, has gone through information beforehand about what to do to make it, and than causes an object or process to occur based on that information. When stars, clouds, planets, etc. form, there is, given what we know, nothing that looked at the possibilities for star formation, cloud formation, etc., and decided that those particular objects would form there. the formations just happened a certain way. It is incorrect in just about every sense to say that these were "planned". (Unless we find out gods or aliens did it.)

    In terms of living things, it may depend on the process, and what is considered "planning". A change in size, shape, or behavior over time to to natural selection type of reasons is really iffy to call "planned", unless some species somehow ended up with a behavior of "drive this group extinct" and followed through on it, since there was no information processing that lead the living things to decide on extinction and change behavior based on it. Non living thing gs mentioned earlier have no information processing or response, and have no planning of any sort (unless a really wide definition is used.)

  4. #34
    Senior Member HilbertSpace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zergling View Post
    In terms of living things, it may depend on the process, and what is considered "planning". A change in size, shape, or behavior over time to to natural selection type of reasons is really iffy to call "planned", unless some species somehow ended up with a behavior of "drive this group extinct" and followed through on it, since there was no information processing that lead the living things to decide on extinction and change behavior based on it. Non living thing gs mentioned earlier have no information processing or response, and have no planning of any sort (unless a really wide definition is used.)
    I agree that planning is a property of living things, for the most part. But I think that, in all honesty, you do have to extend the idea of planning to them.

    This is not to say that mutations are directional, but rather that, when combined with selection, you have the same kind of "evaluate, then reinforce or discard" activity that goes into cognitive planning. You can then have a range of responses, each of which is anticipatory (that is, it fills part of a plan that takes place over time), and which itself is plastic in response to continuous environmental feedback.
    JBS Haldane's Four Stages of Scientific Theories:

    1. This is worthless nonsense.
    2. This is an interesting, but perverse, point of view.
    3. This is true, but quite unimportant.
    4. I always said so.

  5. #35
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Enough with the trees silly twaddlings.

    Is a big part of the circles vs. square one of utility and the path of least resistance? Spheres are economical shapes and tend to occur in nature as a result of erosion and maximizing volume to surface area? Cube shaped result from building materials made of straight lines that fit easily together (early interchangeable parts concept). Trees are cut to form straight logs, rocks are quarried in squares to fit together once moved, steel beams, and other materials are more easily manufactured in straight lines, correct? Isn't the most economical use of straight lines to build a cube? Isn't that the straight line version of maximizing volume to surface area?

    Humans who use more fluid building materials produce more fluid designs like the tee-pee and the dome-shaped Navajo hogans, straw huts tend to be cylindrical with roof material radiating out from the center, etc.
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  6. #36
    Senior Member HilbertSpace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    Is a big part of the circles vs. square one of utility and the path of least resistance? Spheres are economical shapes and tend to occur in nature as a result of erosion and maximizing volume to surface area? Cube shaped result from building materials made of straight lines that fit easily together (early interchangeable parts concept). Trees are cut to form straight logs, rocks are quarried in squares to fit together once moved, steel beams, and other materials are more easily manufactured in straight lines, correct? Isn't the most economical use of straight lines to build a cube? Isn't that the straight line version of maximizing volume to surface area?
    I think you're absolutely right. I would characterize the building materials and the shapes they encourage as a constraint because they act as a sort of limiting (or, at least, channeling) factor, but you can also think of a utility regarding optimal use with the channel of constraint.
    JBS Haldane's Four Stages of Scientific Theories:

    1. This is worthless nonsense.
    2. This is an interesting, but perverse, point of view.
    3. This is true, but quite unimportant.
    4. I always said so.

  7. #37
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Moved several very silly posts here.

  8. #38
    Senior Member darlets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    Humans who use more fluid building materials produce more fluid designs like the tee-pee and the dome-shaped Navajo hogans, straw huts tend to be cylindrical with roof material radiating out from the center, etc.
    Yeah, I was going to say, there's alot of human architecture that is round. Alot of tribes build circular huts and circular villages.

    There's also a train of thought in architecture that human are more at ease in round surrondings (I'll find more on this later)

    When the need arises too, we're also very unsquare. Aircraft/Rockets, submarines, tennis balls (o.k maybe that last one isn't a good example)
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  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by HilbertSpace View Post
    This is not to say that mutations are directional, but rather that, when combined with selection, you have the same kind of "evaluate, then reinforce or discard" activity that goes into cognitive planning. You can then have a range of responses, each of which is anticipatory (that is, it fills part of a plan that takes place over time), and which itself is plastic in response to continuous environmental feedback.
    Again, this is a different definition of planning than what I am talking about.

    This is not "planning" the way I use it, because no information was processed separatly from when the actual events occured. It has the same effect as if someone looked at the options, and decided well on one over the other, but did not occur by the same process.

    Quote Originally Posted by Toonia
    Is a big part of the circles vs. square one of utility and the path of least resistance? Spheres are economical shapes and tend to occur in nature as a result of erosion and maximizing volume to surface area? Cube shaped result from building materials made of straight lines that fit easily together (early interchangeable parts concept). Trees are cut to form straight logs, rocks are quarried in squares to fit together once moved, steel beams, and other materials are more easily manufactured in straight lines, correct? Isn't the most economical use of straight lines to build a cube? Isn't that the straight line version of maximizing volume to surface area?
    There are also natural processes where this sort of thing occurs. (Crystal structures minimize energy when in square or hexagon shapes rather than round or random shapes.)

  10. #40
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Since I can't quite hang with the science talk (although it excites me), I'll drop in and suggest an interesting book that touches on this from a literary perspective: The Mirror and the Lamp by Meyer Abrams. Up until the Enlightenment, literature (and, by extension, other aspects of culture) acted as a mirror, reflecting and interpreting the world. There was a shift around then that changed the focus from reflecting the world to illuminating and improving. This seems to be about when people decided that the best way to go about inventing was to do the opposite of nature and forge ahead with better ideas. The pendulum appears to be swinging back in the other direction somewhat.

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