Re: De-Anthropomorphizing SL3 to SL4.

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Mon Mar 15 2004 - 17:41:29 MST

At 01:18 AM 15/03/04 -0800, you wrote:
>--- Keith Henson <> wrote:
> >>The thing that separates us from the Neanderthal
> >>brain size, or brute strength, but a symbolic
> >>manipulation capability.
> >This may be true, but I don't think you can prove it
>I think the evidence is on our side. We are the only
>species who has left behind any significant artifacts
>of any kind. Whether they be cave paintings, or
>sophisticated tools.

The World抯 Oldest Stone Artefacts from Gona, Ethiopia: Their
Implications for Understanding Stone Technology and Patterns
of Human Evolution Between 2򉻉5 Million Years Ago


"The systematic archaeological and geological survey and excavations at
Gona between 19921994 led to the discovery
of well-flaked stone artefacts which are currently the oldest known from
anywhere in the world. More than 3000 surface
and excavated artefacts

>All of which we developed before
>writing. I think the evidence is pretty strong that
>the Neanderthals did not have general purpose symbolic
>manipulation ability. There is no evidence that they
>did, but the evidence for Homo Sapiens is abundant.

There was a study I can't locate just now of just how hard it is to chip
the kind of tools the Neanderthals made. (The study was in the context of
how important language was in teaching about how to chip rocks. Didn't
seem to be.)

> >>Even chimps have a certain degree of culture that
>varies from place to place. It is hard to say just
>exactly when people became critically
>dependant on culture. It could have been carrying
>unworked stones to drive off major predators. If you
>decide worked stone to be the boundary, then we are
>talking about 2.6 million years ago.<<
>I think you missed his point. He is talking about a
>first level of abstraction (i.e. logos) - a symbol, a
>grunt, a word, or picture, *representing* something.
>Basic survival knowledge is not abstraction, it is
>visceral experience that happens with every species,
>even the amoeba on some level.
> >>We, as a species, have been driven by memes for the
> >>last hundred thousand years, and this has forced us
> >>further and further away from any direct connection
> >>with the natural world.
> >Until we can live on electric power, this is a bit
>How is it overstated? Right now, sitting at your
>computer in your house or apartment, your are
>surrounded by artificiality, lights, tools, batteries,
>kitchen knives, oven, roof, walls, windows, glass,
>cars, telephone polls, the spoken word, TV,
>newspapers, soda pop, running water, pipes, etc, etc.
>We are practically drowning in logos!

You bet. But consider: During an ice age environmental productivity (in
modern terms read farm output) might well fall by 50% or more. How much do
you think the human population would fall under such conditions?

> >>So we have three waves, biological, linguistic, and
> >>technological, which are rapidly moving to
> >>concrescence, and on their way, as they interact,
> >>produce such a tsunami of novelty as has never
> >>been experienced in the history of this planet.
> >The real question is "does anything interesting
> >survive"? (Where
> >entities able to tame wild galaxies >are
>Yes, that would be a very desirable outcome! :-)
> >>>*If* technophilic life is common then the answer is
>*no.* Our chances are really rotten if the last 10 or
>100 million species to reach this state were eaten by
>gray goo or unfriendly AIs. If species that reach our
>stage are so rare that there are none in our light
>cone, then the future is unknown. Scary perhaps, but
>not a death sentence.<<<
>Of course, but as you pointed out, 揳s far as we know,
>this process has [only] been centered on a certain
>small planet.

True. We don't see anything. This could be because there isn't anything
to see because no civilization besides ours have arisen inside out light
cone or that the local singularity kills every single one of them.

There just isn't any evidence one way or the other and the universe is
going to look the same either way.

But the more hostile the rest of the universe looks, the better the chances
are that we are alone.

Keith Henson

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