RE: of possible interest: interaction with autonomous agents

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Tue Jun 28 2005 - 00:16:50 MDT

Peter William Pitt writes

> [Lee wrote]
> > The degree to which an entity is able to establish control over its
> > environment is a signal characteristic of its level of intelligence.
> > Indeed, humans are the most intelligent of Earth's present species
> > as is indicated by the control that groups of humans are able to
> > exert over their surroundings. On this measure, of course, people
> > fail to show really exalted intelligence: were a person suddenly
> > teleported to the bottom of the ocean or into deep space, he or she
> > wouldn't last long. Not even that, but even under ideal conditions
> > humans are done for in less than a century.
> I think that the relative amounts of control exerted by organisms on
> their environments are probably less to do with intelligence and more
> to do with the desire to exert control.

All other things being equal, an urge to control one's environment
indeed results in better control. I hope you are comfortable with
the temperature of the room you're in; if not, turn up the heat or
turn on the air conditioner. But just don't sit there and take it!

> Besides, I think as humans we have very little control. We know we
> have to make major changes to the way we are living if we are going to
> remain in existence over the next century, but can we do anything
> about it? We have as much control as a bacterium in a sea of other
> bacteria churning through resources.

Humans are sentient, and historically have shown that they have
much more control of their environment than do bacteria. As for
whether "we" have to make changes, we will be changing all right,
one way or another. Provided we don't war against each other, or
succumb to a GAI with an entirely different agenda from ours, we
ought to exert more control of Earth and nearby space.

> Also, if control was some indication of intelligence, then assumably
> the people in the most powerful positions would be the most
> intelligent? (And I *really* doubt this to be true).

Everything else being equal, people in more powerful positions
are more intelligent than people in less powerful positions.


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