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    Default The naming of elephants

    This is the coolest story I've seen in years. Finally, someone has used AI to do something exciting.

    Turns out, elephants have names. Not names like Nellie or Peanut. Real names, names given and used for them by other elephants.

    Now hoping someone can figure out how to perform the same study on cetaceans.
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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    This is the coolest story I've seen in years. Finally, someone has used AI to do something exciting.

    Turns out, elephants have names. Not names like Nellie or Peanut. Real names, names given and used for them by other elephants.
    I'm awaiting the full-on T.S. Eliot pastiche. The naming of elephants is a difficult matter...

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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    Originally Posted by veti
    Now hoping someone can figure out how to perform the same study on cetaceans.
    Similar research is underway, but not yet at the stage of identifying individual designations.

    Even so, I'm still holding out hope for a ship named Streaker.

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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidSh View Post
    I'm awaiting the full-on T.S. Eliot pastiche. The naming of elephants is a difficult matter...
    That's exactly what I thought when I saw the thread title
    Last edited by Bohandas; 2024-06-10 at 05:03 PM.
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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidSh View Post
    I'm awaiting the full-on T.S. Eliot pastiche. The naming of elephants is a difficult matter...
    I'll be honest, I was thinking that myself. But it doesn't scan. You'd have to rework the line so that "elephants" was the second word, or equivalent.
    "None of us likes to be hated, none of us likes to be shunned. A natural result of these conditions is, that we consciously or unconsciously pay more attention to tuning our opinions to our neighbor’s pitch and preserving his approval than we do to examining the opinions searchingly and seeing to it that they are right and sound." - Mark Twain

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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    This sounds like a promising preliminary result but I wouldn't trust it just yet due to the AI angle. I don't particularly trust AI to do anything that isn't creative. Further research is definitely warranted though. An obvious test would be to play back one of the possible names and see if only the elephant in question responds.
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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    An obvious test would be to play back one of the possible names and see if only the elephant in question responds.
    Already done. From the above link:
    When the researchers played a recording to an elephant of their friend or family member calling out their name, the animal responded positively and “energetically”, the researchers said.

    But the same elephant was far less enthusiastic when played the names of others.
    "None of us likes to be hated, none of us likes to be shunned. A natural result of these conditions is, that we consciously or unconsciously pay more attention to tuning our opinions to our neighbor’s pitch and preserving his approval than we do to examining the opinions searchingly and seeing to it that they are right and sound." - Mark Twain

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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    This sounds like a promising preliminary result but I wouldn't trust it just yet due to the AI angle. I don't particularly trust AI to do anything that isn't creative. Further research is definitely warranted though. An obvious test would be to play back one of the possible names and see if only the elephant in question responds.
    You surprise me with this. I would not trust AI to do anything creative.

    The one thing machine learning techniques have been good at for a long time is pattern recognition which is what this one boils down to. The question of whether the patterns found are meaningful or not is absolutely key to the use of AI - and in this case it looks as if they are asking those questions to separate the important patterns from random noise.

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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    It's been known for a long time that parrots have names for each other, and I'm not at all surprised to see that it's true of elephants, too. But it's gratifying to see it confirmed.

    One difficulty in studying elephant communication is that much of it is in frequencies too low for humans to hear. This has advantages for elephants, though: They can hear and understand each other from many miles away.
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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    From memory, dolphins and whales have similar personal identifiers as well.

    It'd be interesting if they can prove the same with problem-solving birds like ravens.

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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    Quote Originally Posted by Khedrac View Post
    You surprise me with this. I would not trust AI to do anything creative.
    I'm most familiar with the kind of AI that strings words together to create ridiculous stories of things that never happened and never will.
    Last edited by Bohandas; 2024-06-11 at 01:36 PM.
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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    Quote Originally Posted by Khedrac View Post
    You surprise me with this. I would not trust AI to do anything creative.

    The one thing machine learning techniques have been good at for a long time is pattern recognition which is what this one boils down to. The question of whether the patterns found are meaningful or not is absolutely key to the use of AI - and in this case it looks as if they are asking those questions to separate the important patterns from random noise.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    I'm most familiar with the kind of AI that strings words together to create ridiculous stories of things that never happened and never will.
    We may need to start using some new terminology. We have come to use the word "creative" synonymously with "artistic". Tellingly, perhaps, in the last decade or so we have developed this thinking in a financial sense into "content creation". What AI churns out, "creates", if we will, is certainly content - content can be anything, after all. A bucket full of human faeces contains content. AI stuff can even be superficially coherent. So AI can do the job of "content creation". But it can't produce art. (No, not even Stable Diffusion and its ilk - it can produce pictures, but not art).

    That the two are so readily confused in conversation at least, suggests that the conflation of "artist" with "content creator" has arguably therefore done precisely what those who have railed against the proliferation of the latter term for years feared and complained of: degraded our understanding and appreciation of the artistic element, which until the development of true AI (not just LLMs and the like) remains essentially biological, in media production. If I were a more cynical man, I might even suggest that this has been deliberate on the part of the tech and media companies which drove the concept of "content" and its "creation" and now by replacing the humans who used to do it with machines (which in some cases they developed themselves) stand to profit.
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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    beauty, not expression or a soul, is the essential element of art

    EDIT:
    Or, to put it another way, the ability to evoke an emotion is more important than the ability to express one. Ultimately I don't care what the aritst is thinking as long as I'm entertained.

    EDIT:
    Or to put it another way, I don't care about artists OR content creators, I only care about content. The supply side of the economy does not concern me; it a means to an end and nothing more, and if a more expedient means presents itself I will avail myself of it. And that goes for every other industry too; If I could get my food out of a replicator like Star Trek instead of having to go through a bunch of farmers and trucks and restaurants and grocery stores I'd do it.

    EDIT:
    And I long for the day when 3d printing appliances get advanced enough to replace the old paradigm of goods being made in factories

    EDIT:
    Although I WILL cede that a shared cultural experience can also be an aspect of art and that AI poses some dilution to this as previously any work you viewed had necessarily also been viewed by at least one other person, to wit the artist themself
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aedilred View Post
    which until the development of true AI (not just LLMs and the like) remains essentially biological
    If you're talking about something sentient I don't see any reason why anyone would ever develop such a thing. There's no need for it. Maybe once just to prove that they can; but overall it would just needlessly complicate things without improving functionality and I can't see it ever seeing widespread adoption.
    Last edited by Bohandas; 2024-06-11 at 09:33 PM.
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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    Quote Originally Posted by Aedilred View Post
    That the two are so readily confused in conversation at least, suggests that the conflation of "artist" with "content creator" has arguably therefore done precisely what those who have railed against the proliferation of the latter term for years feared and complained of: degraded our understanding and appreciation of the artistic element, which until the development of true AI (not just LLMs and the like) remains essentially biological, in media production. If I were a more cynical man, I might even suggest that this has been deliberate on the part of the tech and media companies which drove the concept of "content" and its "creation" and now by replacing the humans who used to do it with machines (which in some cases they developed themselves) stand to profit.
    You are attributing too much foresight and forethought to the companies. "Content creation" is simply the way they look at the world, since to them all "content" is the same - it's all just data to be monetised, doesn't matter who or what creates it or how, just that it is created. That much has been obvious to them (and, come to that, anyone else who thought about it for two minutes) since the days of Geocities and Altavista and AOL. And in that they've been allied with traditional publishers, who feel exactly the same way (and probably envy the newcomers the clarity and simplicity of their insight).

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    beauty, not expression or a soul, is the essential element of art
    I... couldn't possibly disagree more if I tried. In fact I'm trying right now, and no, I don't think I've ever seen a more wrongheaded opinion about anything, anywhere, ever. However, this doesn't really seem the right thread to get into that. It's a big topic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    If you're talking about something sentient I don't see any reason why anyone would ever develop such a thing. There's no need for it. Maybe once just to prove that they can; but overall it would just needlessly complicate things without improving functionality and I can't see it ever seeing widespread adoption.
    Well, the likeliest scenario in my opinion is that they will do it unintentionally, as a byproduct of something else. How do you think we got it? Indeed, I've argued in the past that the internet itself is probably sentient by now. How would we know?
    "None of us likes to be hated, none of us likes to be shunned. A natural result of these conditions is, that we consciously or unconsciously pay more attention to tuning our opinions to our neighbor’s pitch and preserving his approval than we do to examining the opinions searchingly and seeing to it that they are right and sound." - Mark Twain

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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    However, this doesn't really seem the right thread to get into that. It's a big topic.
    It really isn't. Either you define art through nature and intent of the maker, in which case machines categorically cannot produce it (yet), but this distinction cannot be made based on the finished piece alone: you need to know the process of that piece's creation.

    Or, you define art through qualities in the finished piece, in which case all arguments that machines cannot produce art fall apart. Intelligence is a non-factor - tentatively non-intelligent physical processes are perfectly capable of producing things with all the components humans might value in art, and do so all the time. F.ex, a painting of a sunset is just human effort to capture artistic qualities of a real sunset.

    The appearance of a big topic is created by people being unwilling to bite the bullet for implications of either fork - so they keep drawing arbitrary lines in the sand to include just the right things. March of automation has never been kind to such arbitrary line-drawing. There is, in principle, nothing a human can physically do that a machine can't. Difficulty of implementation is another thing.

    EDIT:

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    Indeed, I've argued in the past that the internet itself is probably sentient by now. How would we know?
    The internet is a communications protocol. Saying "the internet" is sentient is equivalent to saying neuromodulatory molecules are sentient. As for machines using the internet, we know many of them are sentient because we deliberately made them so. We hooked them to sensors and programmed them to react and adapt to what they sense. Any arguments for there not being sentient machines operating on the internet are based on narrow definitions of sentience that bake in "human-like" somewhere in there. It's the same discussion we've had, and are having, about animals: the ghost of Descartes compels us to claim animals are just biological automatons following their inborn directives, unlike us humans, who are somehow not. Yet, any deep look at the animal kingdom shows sentient behaviour is ubiquitous. Hell, stripped from anthropocentrism, the basic definition of sentience allows for plants to be considered sentient.
    Last edited by Vahnavoi; 2024-06-27 at 05:03 AM.

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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    A lot of folks use the word "sentient" when they really ought to use "sapient", which is a much higher bar to clear.
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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    Tying this back to thread topic, the topic's excitement over elephants giving and using unique callsigns.

    We program machines to do this all the time. My ability to send this message to you relies on machines being able to give and respond to specific callsigns. The capacity to do this, stripped of all other realities of being a living creature, doesn't even make those machines as intelligent as an elephant.

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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    Tying this back to thread topic, the topic's excitement over elephants giving and using unique callsigns.

    We program machines to do this all the time. My ability to send this message to you relies on machines being able to give and respond to specific callsigns. The capacity to do this, stripped of all other realities of being a living creature, doesn't even make those machines as intelligent as an elephant.
    Its only meaningful that our machines give and respond to specific callsigns because the things behind them, the things we set them to do, or the things we want to do with them (e.g. maintenance and repair) systematically differ enough that it matters which machine you're communicating with.

    So the interesting thing is that for systematic, unique, and persistent 'callsigns' to be a beneficial cognitive strategy, there has to be something about either the social organization or the persistence of individual variations that correspond to how long a given name remains persistent. For short-term coordination within a single task, short term names would be sufficient - think positions in a sports team. So that elephants use more persistent identifiers tells us about the structure of their social organization and how they, collectively, solve problems - that for example you could expect individual elephants to specialize their roles in a group, that individual elephants vary enough in their behavior that the group may gossip and then as a result of that gossip promote or ostracize those individuals by name, etc.

    Compare to, say, something like an ant colony or bee hive. Different kinds of social organization, one in which individual roles in the society are not readily fungible into types of roles (and so individual names are needed), versus one in which a class-name would be sufficient 'warriors, attack! workers, dig!' etc.

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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    It really isn't. Either you define art through nature and intent of the maker, in which case machines categorically cannot produce it (yet), but this distinction cannot be made based on the finished piece alone: you need to know the process of that piece's creation.
    I define art as a form of communication. Every artwork says something. What makes it exciting is that the language it uses is extremely subjective, meaning that the message will differ radically between different viewers. And very often, the artist themself may not have been able to articulate their meaning in a more specific kind of language, but they felt they had to say something anyway and here it is.

    If you know the artist personally, or if you've studied them and their works, then you might be able to make educated guesses about what they were thinking and what they intended with a piece. But that's really not necessary. The mere existence of the piece as a created work, something that someone put effort into, itself carries a subtext "this is interesting, please look at it". The viewer's reaction is as much a part of communication as the process of speaking.

    So a sunrise may be beautiful, but it's not art (unless you introduce religion, but let's not). A photo of the same sunrise says "this is something I once saw and I thought it was worth preserving, and now someone is showing it to you, so they maybe see some importance in it as well". That's art. A painting of it says something more, because the artist will likely have "improved" on nature in many ways that go far beyond the scope of composition and filters available to a photographer.

    Can machines produce art? Absolutely, I have no quarrel with that. Animals, ditto. It does raise potentially challenging questions about how you define or understand the intent of a machine, but that machines can and do communicate is beyond dispute. They've been doing that since at least the invention of the alarm clock.

    The internet is a communications protocol. Saying "the internet" is sentient is equivalent to saying neuromodulatory molecules are sentient.
    I just googled "what is the internet", and the internet doesn't agree with you. Saying "the internet is a communications protocol" is like saying "a human is a mass of neurons in a brain". It's part of it, yes, but not the whole, arguably not even the most important part.
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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    Setting aside the inevitable Godwin point of AI art, that's a very nice find! As for how much it shows intelligence, it's something that shows that a language can evolve easily by assigning new words to new concepts, and as such is capable of expressing high levels of complexity, as well as showing a level of abstraction that describing cannot reach. I remember having seen something similar for either dolphins or orcas, where if one individual is away from the pod, the other use a signature call that is different for each member to signify that they should come back.
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    amused Re: The naming of elephants

    but i dont know why is it going on...

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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    It really isn't. Either you define art through nature and intent of the maker, in which case machines categorically cannot produce it (yet), but this distinction cannot be made based on the finished piece alone: you need to know the process of that piece's creation.

    Or, you define art through qualities in the finished piece, in which case all arguments that machines cannot produce art fall apart. Intelligence is a non-factor - tentatively non-intelligent physical processes are perfectly capable of producing things with all the components humans might value in art, and do so all the time. F.ex, a painting of a sunset is just human effort to capture artistic qualities of a real sunset.

    The appearance of a big topic is created by people being unwilling to bite the bullet for implications of either fork - so they keep drawing arbitrary lines in the sand to include just the right things. March of automation has never been kind to such arbitrary line-drawing. There is, in principle, nothing a human can physically do that a machine can't. Difficulty of implementation is another thing.
    I don't think it's quite that straightforward. You don't need to know what the process, nature and intention of the maker was, just that there was an intent there. And the creative intent that is necessary for artistic expression rather than mere content generation is something that machines are incapable of, and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.


    The extent to which this is discernible from the finished product is debatable, but I think it's why people react so negatively to revelations of AI involvement after the fact, in a way that they don't (beyond economic considerations) on being told that something was AI-generated from the outset. You might not be able to tell from the finished product, but learning that actually you're not getting the genuine creative product of a human soul - no matter how bad it might be - but a bunch of ones and zeroes feels like an emotional betrayal. In fact, I compare it without hyperbole to being told your partner is cheating on you. You hadn't previously suspected a thing, and had happily accepted the relationship as a genuine human connection, but the discovery that in fact one side of that was a lie damages your whole experience of it.

    What is also debatable is the extent to which human influence in the AI-generative-process matters. I'm thinking mostly on the visual arts side, but it's possible to view AI as a tool in the same way that a brush is (or indeed digital art programs are), and manipulating it to achieve your desired outcome is just a different medium of art: the artistic impulse is realised through AI output but represents the artist's creative expression - which they might not have the technical skills to execute using more traditional means. And I think I buy that as a legitimate interpretation but there remains a question as to cut-off. If you want to create a picture of a corgi, just typing "corgi" into the box and pressing go isn't sufficient for the result to be art. But a detailed description of the corgi in question, the colours you want to use, the pose and composition of the piece, set out in such a way that the engine does exactly what you want, and then pressing go and getting exactly what you envisaged - I think that probably is. Where on the sliding scale something becomes - or stops being - "art" isn't something I can give a concrete answer to and I don't think not being able to invalidates the underlying philosophy.

    Insight into (rather than speculation about) the actual creative process of a given piece of art is not a given, but it's only very recently - the last couple of years - that we haven't been able to take it for granted that there was an artistic process, which is why this is such a difficult topic to engage with and discuss - the (valid) assumptions that have underpinned our whole understanding of and discussion of "art" both conceptually and practically since an unnamed hominin first sprayed paint onto a cave wall have been kicked away. There is no consensus and people are having to reconstruct on a largely individual level their understanding and definition of something which was previously universally taken for granted.
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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    I think people want AI-generated works to be inferior to human-generated works. People like knowing ahead of time if a work is AI-generated or human-generated so they can make sure to convince themselves that their view on the work matches their pre-conceived notions. People get really mad when they find out something they enjoyed was AI-generated because they wanted to believe they could never enjoy anything AI-generated.

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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    I just googled "what is the internet", and the internet doesn't agree with you. Saying "the internet is a communications protocol" is like saying "a human is a mass of neurons in a brain". It's part of it, yes, but not the whole, arguably not even the most important part.
    You're doing it again. "The internet" isn't an unified system that can be meaningfully said to agree or disagree with anything. The machines and databases connected through the internet can do that, but they don't form an unified system either. Comparing "the internet" to a single human or any single entity at all remains a category error. It doesn't work like that even if grammatically English allows you to put words in a sequence that implies otherwise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aedilred View Post
    I don't think it's quite that straightforward. You don't need to know what the process, nature and intention of the maker was, just that there was an intent there.
    You cannot ascertain intent was present without knowing the process, nature and intention of the maker. That ought to be obvious. Everything else you note after this is just (re)iterating the problems of living in a world where you can't tell this from a finished piece.

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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    You cannot ascertain intent was present without knowing the process, nature and intention of the maker. That ought to be obvious.
    You know that intent was present if the creator is human, so you don't need to know what the process and intention actually were. Indeed we don't know the intention of the maker in an awful lot of cases, including some of the world's most famous pieces of art, beyond that the intention was to produce a piece of art. Even if the actual object on display was not the product of conscious intelligence and artistic expression (for instance, a heap of excrement), the decision to present that as a piece of art was, in which case the "art" in question is probably not the object itself but the piece of art as a whole, including the title etc.

    And for the whole of human history (and pre-history) until about two years ago, that the creator was human could be taken for granted, so the nature of the maker wasn't a factor.

    There had, admittedly, been some discussion over whether animals could produce art. In a lot of cases that point was obviated or elided by the intervention of a human at some point in the process: for instance, a heap of elephant excrement was (surely) not a product of conscious intelligence and artistic expression on the part of the elephant but the arrangement of it and the presentation of it to the Turner Prize as a piece of art was all human. And notably, the question of whether (independently produced) animal art (birds decorating nests and the like) was actually art was never satisfactorily resolved either to the extent of consensus before AI came along.
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  26. - Top - End - #26
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    Quote Originally Posted by Aedilred View Post
    You know that intent was present if the creator is human, so you don't need to know what the process and intention actually were. Indeed we don't know the intention of the maker in an awful lot of cases, including some of the world's most famous pieces of art, beyond that the intention was to produce a piece of art. Even if the actual object on display was not the product of conscious intelligence and artistic expression (for instance, a heap of excrement), the decision to present that as a piece of art was, in which case the "art" in question is probably not the object itself but the piece of art as a whole, including the title etc.

    And for the whole of human history (and pre-history) until about two years ago, that the creator was human could be taken for granted, so the nature of the maker wasn't a factor.

    There had, admittedly, been some discussion over whether animals could produce art. In a lot of cases that point was obviated or elided by the intervention of a human at some point in the process: for instance, a heap of elephant excrement was (surely) not a product of conscious intelligence and artistic expression on the part of the elephant but the arrangement of it and the presentation of it to the Turner Prize as a piece of art was all human. And notably, the question of whether (independently produced) animal art (birds decorating nests and the like) was actually art was never satisfactorily resolved either to the extent of consensus before AI came along.
    Eh, art is pretentious crap:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artist%27s_****
    The end of what Son? The story? There is no end. There's just the point where the storytellers stop talking.

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Mar 2020

    Default Re: The naming of elephants

    Quote Originally Posted by Aedilred View Post
    You know that intent was present if the creator is human, so you don't need to know what the process and intention actually were.
    Knowing a creator is or was a human is obviously relevant knowledge about nature, process and intention of the maker.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aedildred
    And for the whole of human history (and pre-history) until about two years ago, that the creator was human could be taken for granted, so the nature of the maker wasn't a factor.
    Untrue. Humans have confused products of natural processes for intentional designs since time immemorial. From rock formations to remains of dead animals to formations of clouds and patterns on a piece of bread. Even people who have taken it for granted that only humans can make art, have mistaken objects of non-human origin for art precisely because you cannot tell intent from a thing without knowing the process behind that thing.

    You can argue those things become art when a human becomes interested in them, labels them and puts them on display. That's fair. But that whole process is something that we can observe, document and verify. It is exactly defining art through nature and intent of the maker, through knowledge of the process.

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