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 The Sapient Niche(s)

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R136a1
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PostSubject: The Sapient Niche(s)   Sun Feb 27, 2011 9:18 pm

Not sure if this is where this should go, but I thought it was the best place for it. If it should be somewhere else, feel free to move it.

I've been reading a lot about the new Auto-Evo concept of Biomes and Niches and such, and I feel like this should be addressed sooner rather than later, so we don't run into the problem down the line. Basically, what defines the niche(s) in which sapient creatures live? This could be expanded into several questions; In which biome(s) will sapience-allowing niche(s) form? What other niches will be required in order for the niche(s) to become available? What traits will be required for a creature to move into the niche(s), and what traits will enhance survivability when creatures are in the niche(s)?

Ideas (I'll add more as they come up):
-other required niches for the niche to exist
--A variety of potential food sources & predators, each with their own capabilities (poison, thorns, speed, etc.)

-Requirements to move into the niche
--Not too small
--Not too large
--Not too strong
--Omnivorous or Carnivorous with a varied diet

-Abilities which enhance survivability once in the niche
--High brain capacity/complexity
--Ability to manipulate objects (tool usage)


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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Sun Feb 27, 2011 9:32 pm

A sapient niche must be a carnivore (/omnivore), larger than "tiny". That's all I have for now.

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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Mon Feb 28, 2011 12:21 am

~sciocont wrote:
A sapient niche must be a carnivore (/omnivore), larger than "tiny". That's all I have for now.
Sorry if I come off as ignorant, but why is a "tiny" creature not able to become sapient?
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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:34 am

Poisson wrote:
~sciocont wrote:
A sapient niche must be a carnivore (/omnivore), larger than "tiny". That's all I have for now.
Sorry if I come off as ignorant, but why is a "tiny" creature not able to become sapient?
Brain capacity, i believe. It's simply too hard for a tiny creature to have a complex enough brain for sapience to be possible.

...I hope that's right, or i'll look even more ignorant...
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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:38 am

Tiny organisms are too small to have sapient brains, and are usually quite simplistic, anyway.
-Waap.
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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:52 am

Couldn't tiny creatures have hive minds? Just a suggestion, I don't know exactly how they would work. Hive minds would probably have different requirements.

As for which biomes, sentience will most likely occur in places where you need to consider: where food can be found; how finding food can be made easier; which food should be eaten; what creatures are a threat; whether the threat has an advantage/disadvantage in certain situations; how threats can be overcome (pointy sticks!); how protection/shelter can be made/found. That should be enough to make a thinking, tool-using organism.
Not sure if it actually helps in finding a single, global rule. The more diverse, so there's more threats and poisonous food? The more barren, so finding & supplying food requires thinking and navigating becomes an issue? Both encourage thinking, so could it be more extreme environments? This topic is definitely worth discussion.

But niches... Well, what niche do we occupy? No threats, overpopulation, it's 'overpowered top predator'!
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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Mon Feb 28, 2011 6:15 pm

The Uteen wrote:
Couldn't tiny creatures have hive minds? Just a suggestion, I don't know exactly how they would work. Hive minds would probably have different requirements.

As for which biomes, sentience will most likely occur in places where you need to consider: where food can be found; how finding food can be made easier; which food should be eaten; what creatures are a threat; whether the threat has an advantage/disadvantage in certain situations; how threats can be overcome (pointy sticks!); how protection/shelter can be made/found. That should be enough to make a thinking, tool-using organism.
Not sure if it actually helps in finding a single, global rule. The more diverse, so there's more threats and poisonous food? The more barren, so finding & supplying food requires thinking and navigating becomes an issue? Both encourage thinking, so could it be more extreme environments? This topic is definitely worth discussion.

But niches... Well, what niche do we occupy? No threats, overpopulation, it's 'overpowered top predator'!
Hive mindas are ok, but that's not sapience.

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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Mon Feb 28, 2011 6:29 pm

They also can't be too large, otherwise they wouldn't be able to let their minds wander and explore the world.
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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Mon Feb 28, 2011 8:59 pm

Wow, lots of great ideas here! I'll start adding to the orignial post.

Tenebrarum wrote:
They also can't be too large, otherwise they wouldn't be able to let their minds wander and explore the world.

Adding to this, a large creature would be able to overpower most threats simply by its superior strength. This also leads me to believe that whatever niche this is shouldn't be open to particularly strong creatures, as they'll already have the strength advantage and therefore they won't need to think as much to survive.
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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:20 pm

R136a1 wrote:
Wow, lots of great ideas here! I'll start adding to the orignial post.

Tenebrarum wrote:
They also can't be too large, otherwise they wouldn't be able to let their minds wander and explore the world.

Adding to this, a large creature would be able to overpower most threats simply by its superior strength. This also leads me to believe that whatever niche this is shouldn't be open to particularly strong creatures, as they'll already have the strength advantage and therefore they won't need to think as much to survive.
Actually I was thinking of metabolic issues. But yes, there is such a thing as "Too big to kill." Only biologically though.
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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Wed Mar 02, 2011 7:01 pm

All that is true.

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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:52 pm

So does anyone see a possible way for herbivores to became sapient? Or is their life too simple for that to be considered likely?
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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Fri Mar 04, 2011 10:19 pm

Poisson wrote:
So does anyone see a possible way for herbivores to became sapient? Or is their life too simple for that to be considered likely?
The need for high intelligence just isn't there in herbivores. Probability is about zero.

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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:04 pm

~sciocont wrote:
Poisson wrote:
So does anyone see a possible way for herbivores to became sapient? Or is their life too simple for that to be considered likely?
The need for high intelligence just isn't there in herbivores. Probability is about zero.
QFT
Sentience comes from constant problem solving. If the food source just sits there like I do on a good day, then there is not enough solving to reach sentience.
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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:39 pm

Tenebrarum wrote:
~sciocont wrote:
Poisson wrote:
So does anyone see a possible way for herbivores to became sapient? Or is their life too simple for that to be considered likely?
The need for high intelligence just isn't there in herbivores. Probability is about zero.
QFT
Sentience comes from constant problem solving. If the food source just sits there like I do on a good day, then there is not enough solving to reach sentience.
Very true. I'll add that to the list. However, I think that a "true" carnivore (One that only eats animals similar to its size) would have issues with becoming sapient as well - it would rely more on strength, speed, and other physicical qualities rather than brainpower.
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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:58 pm

Well, I don't see how hunting animals of it's size makes it a "true carnivore", but I don't see anything restricting them to strength only. A slow, but tireless predator hunting in packs could evolve brain I think.
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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:37 pm

Commander Keen wrote:
Well, I don't see how hunting animals of it's size makes it a "true carnivore", but I don't see anything restricting them to strength only. A slow, but tireless predator hunting in packs could evolve brain I think.
You don't necessarily need to be an extremely active predator to become highly intelligent. Actually, a varied diet is probably the best way- humans and corvids (crows) both have varied diets and don't always rely on hunting. Humans and crows are both highly intelligent, and both species can make tools. On a related note, what's our definition for sapient?

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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Sun Mar 06, 2011 3:22 pm

Commander Keen wrote:
Well, I don't see how hunting animals of it's size makes it a "true carnivore"...
I couldn't find the right word for it... I mean a carnivore hunting large animals as opposed to, say, an insectivore which, while it technically is a carnivore, uses much different methods to obtain food than other types of carnivores. Sorry for any misunderstanding.

~sciocont wrote:
On a related note, what's our definition for sapient?
I was using "sapient" meaning life with complex thinking abilities, capable of abstract thought processes and logical thinking and such.
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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:01 pm

R136a1 wrote:
Commander Keen wrote:
Well, I don't see how hunting animals of it's size makes it a "true carnivore"...
I couldn't find the right word for it... I mean a carnivore hunting large animals as opposed to, say, an insectivore which, while it technically is a carnivore, uses much different methods to obtain food than other types of carnivores. Sorry for any misunderstanding.

~sciocont wrote:
On a related note, what's our definition for sapient?
I was using "sapient" meaning life with complex thinking abilities, capable of abstract thought processes and logical thinking and such.
I think you're looking for the word"predator". Ok yes, but how do we define that in the game? We have to set up a list of behaviors that define "sapience".

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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Sun Mar 06, 2011 5:24 pm

I don't think we need a behaivior list for the definition of sapience/sentience. Were our game any more complex, then yes, but at the moment we have all secies arbitrarily placed into one of two catagories, sapient/sentience and non.
All we need is a list of requirements to rise from one to the other. I'm assuming that we're not going into painful detail with semi-sentience and the like. Keeping it as is will be simpler.
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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Sun Mar 06, 2011 7:23 pm

Tenebrarum wrote:
I don't think we need a behaivior list for the definition of sapience/sentience. Were our game any more complex, then yes, but at the moment we have all secies arbitrarily placed into one of two catagories, sapient/sentience and non.
All we need is a list of requirements to rise from one to the other. I'm assuming that we're not going into painful detail with semi-sentience and the like. Keeping it as is will be simpler.
That's what I mean- a list of requirements. As soon as a behavior starts, it could move the animal into a different category based on its behavior.
For instance, tool use would probably boost you into "sapience" if your species began to use tools. Pack hunting, planning for the future, things like that would put you in the "sentient" category.

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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:10 pm

So... are we defining "Sentience" or "Sapience?"
"Sentient" means "having the power of perception; conscious," (i.e. self-aware)
While "Sapient" means "having great wisdom or sound judgement." (Not to mention being waaaay to human-specific... it is part of our species name after all.)

Awareness of other members of your group (should you have one) as individuals should probably go on here as well. That's part of self-awareness. In addition, it allows more complex planning, assigning members to tasks, etc.
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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Mon Mar 07, 2011 6:35 pm

~sciocont wrote:
For instance, tool use would probably boost you into "sapience" if your species began to use tools. Pack hunting, planning for the future, things like that would put you in the "sentient" category.
I think it should be complex tools rather than just tools. There are plenty of animals which use simple tools, but I haven't ever heard of them being called "sapient".
Also, what do you mean by "planning for the future"? To me, that seems more like a sapient behavior than a sentient one, but perhaps I misunderstand.

Mysterious_Calligrapher wrote:
"Sentient" means "having the power of perception; conscious," (i.e. self-aware)
While "Sapient" means "having great wisdom or sound judgement." (Not to mention being waaaay to human-specific... it is part of our species name after all.)
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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:50 pm

Just a warning here: When defining terms, remember the popular use. Most people use sentience to define humans vs. all else we know. Sci-Fi literature especially likes to terms things in ways like "Crimes against sentience."

Just a warning. I have no stock in this. The purpose of language is communication. So long as the communication is complete and accurate, then everything else is arbitrary.
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PostSubject: Re: The Sapient Niche(s)   Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:40 pm

Tenebrarum wrote:
Just a warning here: When defining terms, remember the popular use. Most people use sentience to define humans vs. all else we know. Sci-Fi literature especially likes to terms things in ways like "Crimes against sentience."

Just a warning. I have no stock in this. The purpose of language is communication. So long as the communication is complete and accurate, then everything else is arbitrary.
I think we'lle need to go with the actual definiton of senitience ^see calligrapher's post. It's just the best way to do things imho. And yes, i realize that "tool use" does not necessarily define sapience, but we need to find things that do.

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