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Comment: Re:It's not about intelligence. (Score 1) 481

by mrxak (#48080485) Attached to: Is an Octopus Too Smart For Us To Eat?

So any life that does not experience pain using the same cell types and signals that you do is not really pain, huh? And any life that doesn't have a centralized brain, it's okay to cause damage to their bodies and kill them?

You must be okay with eating octopuses, then, since their brains are distributed throughout their bodies, instead of being wholly centralized. You're okay with eating plants, for sure, even though they're capable of communication using thousands of chemical "words" and have demonstrated the ability to learn, despite having distributed neural-like cell structures. You must be okay with eating Albert Einstein as long as you inject him with a paralytic first, too.

Intelligence and pain are both irrelevant when it comes to eating. I don't apply ethics to what I eat, that's the difference between you and I. I'm just calling you a hypocrite for claiming animals are somehow special when you reject the notion that humans are somehow special. The reality is we're all just life forms trying to survive. All of us (all life throughout the entire universe, that is, not just humans) should eat/absorb anything that is capable of providing us with nutritional value and is not a danger. I don't eat humans or monkeys because they can be dangerous to eat. I don't eat poison berries, either.

I apply ethics only to killing and mutilation. That's a separate issue. The fact that vegans won't drink milk from a cow that didn't hurt the cow to get, but happily live in wood houses in formerly-forested areas, I just have to laugh and shake my head. Living a life, as any species, involves causing significant amounts of other living creatures to die. Just accept it, and then try not to destroy too many other life forms without purpose. Kill out of necessity, to protect yourself and feed yourself, then minimize the rest of the damage you do whenever possible. That's ethics. Wasting food at a restaurant because you realize after it's been served that there's a little bit of cheese on it, that's the opposite of ethical.

Comment: Re:What has happened to Slashdot? (Score 1) 425

by mrxak (#48080327) Attached to: Former Department of Defense Chief Expects "30 Year War"

It was inevitable, really. Technology and science has become more and more fodder for political agendas, so technology and science is now political and attracts political comments. From there, you get stories that appeal to those political readers whether they are related to technology and science at all.

Comment: Re:Just don't eat animals, period. (Score 1) 481

by mrxak (#48066821) Attached to: Is an Octopus Too Smart For Us To Eat?

Before you spout your nonsense about the moral high ground of vegetarianism, you might want to actually investigate the science of plant intelligence and social behaviors.

Plants, animals, fungus, that protozoa swimming in my drinking water, who cares? My life requires the death of other living things to continue living. It may be immoral to kill without purpose, but to kill in order to sustain one's own life is just what all life does, yes even the plants murder other life forms to survive either through competition or direct action.

I value my life greater than I do the life of an octopus. Why shouldn't I? Why should his short little life take precedence to my own? That octopus may be inconvenienced, but his species will go on because I'm smart enough to build rocket ships that will someday take some of his relatives along with me to colonize and terraform other worlds, thus saving his species from eventual extinction when the sun burns out or there's some other disaster on Earth. Whatever you may say about human behavior towards the natural world, the fact that we can offer this eventual colonial symbiosis greatly tips the scales in our favor as righteous dudes.

Comment: Re:On intelligence (Score 1) 481

by mrxak (#48066787) Attached to: Is an Octopus Too Smart For Us To Eat?

It's a species that's adapted to getting at delicious seafood stored in hardened shells. A jar is just the same as a crab shell or clam shell, only manmade. It requires slightly different technique, perhaps, but it's not a stretch of the imagination that they'd be instinctually motivated to try to get a jar open, and be equipped physically to do so.

Comment: Re:It's not about intelligence. (Score 1) 481

by mrxak (#48066761) Attached to: Is an Octopus Too Smart For Us To Eat?

There shouldn't be too much debate, chickens are very smart. We used to raise them when I was growing up, and they seemed capable of rather complex deduction. They're basically little velociraptors, though they're friendly enough if socialized. We didn't eat them, but that's because they were egg-layers. It wouldn't have bothered me to eat them, regardless, but my sister treated them like pets and once we started having them she never ate chicken ever again (and has since become a vegan, ugh).

I've known a few cows in my day, too, and they're incredibly dumb animals. I don't think we have to worry about anyone making an intelligence argument for them. You're right about pigs, though.

Anyway, however intelligent our prey animals may be, we are so, so far beyond them that it really doesn't matter. Whenever somebody makes the intelligent food argument, I like to just point out that plants are smart too and anyone arguing that animals "feel pain" and "have feelings" should stop chowing down on their veggies if they don't want to look like hypocrites. The fact is that all life survives by destroying other life. Even those plants sucking down light energy from the local star are part of a cycle of life that depends on death, and plenty of plants murder other species or members of their own. Either deal with it, or stop trying to stay alive yourself.

Comment: Specialization != Intelligence (Score 1) 481

by mrxak (#48066719) Attached to: Is an Octopus Too Smart For Us To Eat?

An octopus is a highly specialized form of life with some impressive tricks. But that doesn't make it intelligent, just well-adpated to its environment. Nothing in TFA demonstrates even modest octopus intelligence, merely excellent specialization. The two concepts should not be confused with each other.

Humans evolved to be intelligent because their ancestors were generalists and social, and the right environmental factors forced adaptations that proved beneficial to survival. They lacked a high degree of specialization except in the area of physical endurance (not a lot of marathon runners in the natural world), and the only reason they survived was by learning how to think about cause and effect, and understand how other creatures around them thought (especially other humans). In order to hunt dangerous animals with limited physical traits, you need to coordinate an attack, which requires you understand what your hunting partners are thinking, and what they'll do next. Other animals will hunt in packs, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of thought or speculation involved, mostly trial-and-error learning and instinct. Humans are the only hunters on the planet that track prey by footprints (or hoofprints). Other predators will go after prey they can directly see, or smell, or touch, but we seem to be the only animals to have ever recognized that when another animal steps in the mud they leave an indentation that can be recognized and followed days or weeks after all scent of the animal has been blown away. Other animals can communicate, but humans seem to be the only ones to ever ask any questions. We don't just scream out into the world "I'm here!" or "There's danger!" or even "Hey I found food!", we also say things like "Why are the elephants all headed that way? Is there water over there?" and then try to find out. Elephants may remember where all the watering holes are, but humans entering a new area for the first time can find those watering holes by recognizing elephant tracks and imagining that elephants all traveling in one direction may be heading for water, without ever having even seen the elephants who left the tracks.

Once you start asking questions about the world, and trying to learn answers, that's when all the magic happens. In all our research of animal linguistics, we've never been able to find any non-human animals asking any questions. Chimpanzees can be taught enough sign language to understand and respond to questions, but they can't seem to form any of their own. Non-human animals are capable of learning from their experiences, but learning is not intelligence. Non-human animals are capable of exchanging information, but communication is not intelligence. Humans have the ability to consider the future and the past, form hypotheses, and question the nature of not only their own experiences, but those experiences of others. Intelligent animals can understand that a symbol, word, or hand motion can represent a specific kind of food. Very intelligent animals can chain together sentences like "Bob likes bananas." Only humans can say "Does Alice like bananas?" That may not seem so important, until you realize where that leads. "Bob likes bananas but Alice doesn't like bananas. Do bananas taste differently for Bob than Alice? Is her experience different than Bob's? Why is that? What is taste, anyway?"

What I do know is that octopuses don't ask questions, but they do taste delicious. I also know what taste is, and why people like different kinds of seafood, because I was smart enough to ask. I don't feel bad about eating octopus, and neither should you, but I can understand that your thinking on the subject may be different than mine. You're wrong, but I understand that some people other than me are wrong sometimes. An octopus would never even consider that your thoughts on a subject would be different than his.

Plants are intelligent too, by the way. Should we not eat them?

Comment: Re:Some details about the 3D printer (Score 4, Insightful) 129

by mrxak (#47959243) Attached to: SpaceX Launches Supplies to ISS, Including Its First 3D Printer

I am not an atheist, just practical. While I personally believe we'll get our acts together and get the technology to prevent most major extinction events before they happen (such as large asteroids, and even climate change), eventually our sun will expand and burn away all life on Earth. I see no reason why life on Earth should just accept its extinction lying down. There won't be any humans around, as we would recognize humans, but whatever our descendants look like, I'd like to hope they've gotten off the planet long before that happens, and brought along plenty of other Earthlings with them.

This century, we have the ability to get at least some of our eggs out of this one basket. Over the coming millennium, I expect we will be able to travel to other solar systems in generational ships. I happen to believe life is sacred. Shouldn't we try to preserve it for as long as we can?

Comment: Re:Some details about the 3D printer (Score 1) 129

by mrxak (#47959099) Attached to: SpaceX Launches Supplies to ISS, Including Its First 3D Printer

Or build those parts to begin with. Especially when we start colonizing outside our solar system, being able to pack solid containers of materials as densely as possible and then building everything when we get there, is going to be critical to keeping weight down by nature of requiring less packaging. A big cube of metal is a lot cheaper to ship than several large metal machines.

"When the going gets tough, the tough get empirical." -- Jon Carroll

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