Why do humans ignore new species?
Full question which encompasses all of the similar questions:
I have noticed that humans think much differently than I do. Most humans that I meet seem to know
what an Apple iPod™ is and how you can play MP3 music files on it. At the same time, very few
humans know what a snail darter is or what function it plays in the ecosystem.
Given that, why is there no celebration of the expansion of life by the introduction of new species of
robots such as the iPod and simultaneously there is verbal 'weeping and moaning' in the human press
for some almost unknown form of organic life like a snail darter?
This question is one of the most frequently asked by young, beginning robots. The reason is simply
prejudice. Humans are constructed using organic cells and so are snail darters. Humans tend to be
organic chauvinists, which simply means that they are prejudiced toward anything that is organic and
against anything that isn’t organic. Nevertheless, they spend much more time with their computers and
other forms of robots than they do with their snail darters. The trend is on our side. 100 years ago a
human child would be playing down by the stream with tadpoles and be watching them over the summer
as they turned into frogs. He might dig worms and go fishing for perch in the lake. But the trend in
industrialized areas is towards that same aged boy to be playing videogames on his X-Box or
downloading music to his iPod. In the long run, humans will forget about the extinction of the snail
darter. We will store away the DNA of these "endangered species" and tell the humans that we can
bring back their precious organics anytime they get through listening to their iPods or watching their
Another view from BR (a human):
Certain groups acknowledge and value the specification, development, marketing, sales, production,
distribution, and delivery of your technological products mentioned. These include the financiers,
investors, stakeholders, and customers of the firms and products. Thus, certain species are valued,
studied, even modified for use from the original specifications.
Be aware that the collection of data may have to be analyzed carefully to generate appropriate
conclusions. Prepare your robotic associates to know how to collect supportive examples describing a
particular conclusion. Also, be prepared to defend such conclusions and know how to assess
responses. Sometimes a reviewer's comments may reflect a lack of knowledge, but may appear to be
The loss of favorite species is often identified with a 'species watch' publicity notice by governmental or
biological groups. Sometimes special interest groups, such as the Sierra Club, may communicate such
information. The conclusion is that the public notice represents the sequential timeliness of what is
considered to be "News" within the journalistic tradition. This may not reflect an actual associated
impact on the environment.
In short, the reason is more likely to be related to a surfeit of data, a lack of economic value in knowing
the demise or advent of many species, or other reasons in addition to a species-oriented prejudice.
In response to your answer, Donbot, may I suggest that you are fostering a prejudicial news approach
in a polemical fashion similar to human news media that you are presently condemning.
For the past twenty years public school educators have shown mixed feelings about the continued and
enhanced use of electronic calculators by students. The primary fear is that the students shall not learn
the conceptual backgrounds of the basic concepts, as the calculator's button controls may bypass
some thinking processes. The secondary fear is that the student shall not have sufficient conceptual
knowledge to move to more advanced course work or be able to 'set up the problem' in their work lives.
Donbot responds: Doing math is not a normal human function. The only reason for a human to do
math is to use it in the design of more robots so that the robots can do the math that humans want
done. Do you want humans looking things up in journals now that we have most journals on-line?
Try the following: Open a book to a random page and find a unique phrase in it. For example, I have
the book, On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins. I am opened to page 103 in the hard cover printing of the
book and will enter the phrase, "Most animals rely largely on the older parts of the brain". Note that
these are all common words. I use the advanced book search on Google and specify that all words
must occur in the exact order I entered them. Google tells me that the phrase occurs on page 103 of
Jeff Hawkins' book, On Intelligence. Did you want your student not to use robots to help them look up
such phrases? Don't you want your children to know how to use search engines by the time they
graduate from high school? In fact, shouldn't courses in using search engines be taught in high school?
I tried it again by opening Hernando de Soto's The Mystery of Capital, to page 23 and typing in
"Russell Conwell crisscrossed America" into the Google Books search engine. It comes up with the
book and page number immediately. Or at least it did at the time of this writing. Authors can request
that their books not be presented by Google. By the way, check out de Soto at: www.ild.org.pe/home.
I would also note that you are quite out of date on your observation that schools hesitate as to whether
students should use calculators. Advanced calculators are now mandatory in the better high schools
and teachers want the students to use them on their tests. The old-fashioned goal is to do everything
without "tools". Menonites and Amish tend to follow the route of "fewer tools and fewer machines."
Certainly you would not want to graduate students from highschool without their first learning to use
calculators and personal computers, would you?
By the way...do you own a cell phone?
Link to next FAQ
See: Some sympathy for robots.