On 14 May 2013, at 15:33, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:

I am interested in the difference between natural and artificial. So a computer both natural and artificial. Do you know things that are just natural and where the term artificial is not applicable? If yes, what is the difference in your view between things that

1) Natural

2) Natural and artificial

For the human, the distinction is:

Natural = not man made.
Artificial = man made

So TV, castles, churches, planes, computers, houses, etc. are artificial, and clouds, volcano, sea, fishes, comets, stars, etc. are natural.

If you are monist, that distinction is quite artificial, because humans have no special status. If you are dualist and anthropomorphic, then you can absolutize the distinction (but this seems ad hoc to me).

A fly might consider that termites' nest are quite artificial buildings, for example.

Artificial is an indexical, like "now", "here" or "yesterday", or "modern", or "contemporary", etc. The meaning depends on the person using the word and his/her relative position.

For a quite advanced alien, silicon computers and atomic bombs might be considered as natural products on certain type of planets, for a different example.

What do you think if humans receives this message from the stars, with A, B, C, D, ... being token easy to identified and differentiate as physical signals:

ABACAADAABACAAADABAAACAAAADAABAACAAAADAAAABAAAACAAAAAAAADFBACADAAAGAACAAAAAAD
etc.

Can you guess the intent? Can you guess what F and G are for? What would you think if we get such a message (probably longer) coming from far away?

Bruno












search for ETs, interestingly, forces the distinction into an
uncomfortable territory, because it's now "the product of some
intelligence's engineering". We have no way of knowing the full
spectrum of possibilities for alternative biologies, so we can
never be sure if, for example, a signal we receive from outer
space is "natural" or "artificial".


This means that this kind of research is just a way to throw
taxpayers money out. Hence, to be consistent, the government
funding of search for extraterrestrial intelligence should be
banned.

I don't think that follows. SETI is looking for ETs which are
similar enough to us to be detected by looking for stuff we're
familiar with. That seems like a reasonable goal to me.


Well, if scientists cannot say what is the difference between natural and artificial, then it is unclear what they are doing. In this case, in my view, the goal is ill-defined.

Evgenii

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