If you think that Your dog loves you, you are a fool. If you feel kinship with a tree, you are a hippie. And if you empathize too much with a wild animal, you must wear a leopard print and a floral crown, because you are Carole Baskin. The need to watch out for personification permeates almost every aspect of modern life. However, many will struggle to explain exactly why attributing human qualities to non-human entities — from gorillas to large language models — is so naive. unfortunately way.
Anti-anthropomorphism has deep roots. In the 20th century, scientists assembled on a quintessential quest to view animals objectively. To do that, they tried to eliminate human assumptions about biology, social structure, animal behavior, etc. Eventually, this ideal became a dominant ideology, says ecologist Carl Safina. At one point, anthropomorphism was called “worst moral sin” and a dangerous for the animal world. But the next generation of field ecologists, including Jane Goodall and Frans De Waal, pushed back, infusing their observations with sympathy. Ecologist Carl Safina said: “I no longer know people who study animals and insist that anthropomorphism is off-limits.
Still, playing a cautious anti-humanism is still considered wise in certain circles — in conversations about animals and increasingly about artificial intelligence. As machines get better and better at mimicking humans, from DALL-E’s artistic character to ChatGPT’s lifelike interlocutors, we seem to have a tendency to see our ghosts in every machine. Do current technologies really “think” or “see”? Is the Amazon Echo really? need a person’s name? Projecting our humanity onto AI could have real, far-reaching consequences, according to some scholars. hidden how these minds actually work to reinforce a dubious notion of the human mind as a single, or higher, intelligence model.
But anthropomorphism is a tool like any other—used for better and for worse, in humanity’s relentless pursuit to make sense of a complex world. Figuring out when and how to apply such a tool is more urgent than ever, as mass extinctions snuff out nonhuman intelligence and new artificial systems emerge every day. The way we interact with these entities, both animal and man-made, is rapidly becoming one of the greatest challenges of this century.
Most basically, personification is a form metaphorical thinking allows us to draw comparisons between ourselves and the world around us. It can also be understood as one of the myriad byproducts of what neuroscientists call the theory of mind—the ability to distinguish one person’s mind from another’s, and then infer what others are thinking or feeling.
The theory of mind is a key principle in all kinds of human social interactions, from empathy to deception. Even so, it is still an imperfect tool. “The easiest approach we have is with ourselves,” said Heather Roff, a researcher who focuses on the ethics of emerging technology. “I have a theory of mind because I know me, and you are like me enough.” But one WOMEN of 1 is a fragile thing, and anyone can find themselves baffled by an individual they consider to be “unreadable” or by Culture “shock” very different from themselves.
Despite these challenges, people seem to be driven see others as the heart (In other words, to perceive people). On reflex, we seem to believe that other entities have their own thoughts and feelings. At the same time, many people internalize beliefs that are at odds with human self-determination and frequently negate the thinking of children, women, people of color, people with mental illness or developmental disabilities. and non-human animals.