9:20-9:40    Douglas Estes    The Assertive/Interrogative Divide in METI

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09:21:23 From Dr Sheri Wells-Jensen to Everyone : The one thing that always amazes me about learning new things is my ability to ask the wrong question! I'm always having to say to my students: "I think I know what you're missing, but you're asking the wrong question." So, which questions we ask may not be as important as their understanding. 

 

09:21:33 From Abhik Gupta to Everyone : It is also possible that in the dark forest, there are eyes that have already spotted us long ago and preferred to ignore us or just watching how we grow up? After all, we may not go much further ahead with climate change looming large. 

 

09:21:43 From Eric Hughes to Everyone : There doesn't seem to be any reason to stop with analyzing declarative and interrogative modes. Imperative, exclamatory, and phatic modes are just as relevant.

 

09:23:32 From John Traphagan to Everyone : Sheri, yes some of my best moments in research have happened when either I asked the wrong question or couldn't figure out how to ask the question at all.  I've several instances where I knew exactly how to ask the question I was interested in in English, but could not figure out how to ask the same question in Japanese.

 

09:23:49 From Robert.Kennedy to Everyone : dogs have owners, cats have staff

 

09:23:56 From James Schwartz to Everyone : I've had at least two cats "in attendance" for this conference...

 

09:24:01 From Linda Billings to Everyone : Given human behavior, I’m not convinced that humans are a superior species. 

 

09:24:22 From kdenning@yorku.ca to Everyone : Ditto. And our understanding of other species is partial, biased, etc. 

 

09:24:23 From Linda Billings to Everyone : My cat is listening in.

 

09:24:31 From Nathalie Gontier to Everyone : true Linda, true

 

09:24:36 From Dan Capper to Everyone : How do we know that one species is superior to another?

 

09:24:36 From Daniela de Paulis to Everyone : some dogs have staff too :-)

 

09:25:27 From John Traphagan to Everyone : I actually wonder what "superior" means in relation to various species.  Does that refer to intelligence, moral status, position of power, ability to destroy the planet?

 

09:25:48 From Linda Billings to Everyone : Good questions, John.

 

09:26:01 From kdenning@yorku.ca to Everyone : Most communication is non-audio. It's gestural, it's chemical, it's visual, etc. And our understanding of other species' communications in these registers is minimal.

 

09:27:49 From Dr Sheri Wells-Jensen to Everyone : There is this line, and it's a thin line, between question and demand. My cat, for example never asks: Is there food here? She says: Present DINNER! And making that difference could be important! 

 

09:28:02 From Dan Capper to Everyone : My dogs are questioning if they can come in and listen to this presentation. 

 

09:28:16 From Robert.Kennedy to Everyone : LOL

 

09:28:37 From Daniela de Paulis to Everyone : we need other species in this conference :-)

 

09:28:38 From Nick Nielsen to Everyone : What particular subject would be appropriate?

 

09:28:52 From Eric Hughes to Everyone : +1 for gestural and chemical channels. Hard question even to say if these are symbolic channels or not.

 

09:30:11 From Lucas Mix to Everyone : I'm not convinced their is a clear line between a question and a statement which predictably elicits a response (as how my cat has me conditioned to feed him) - or a hormone that has a predictable effecting a cell and getting it to release nutrients. Is there a way of operationalizing the difference other than familiarity?

 

09:32:43 From Dr Sheri Wells-Jensen to Everyone : The speech act theory is a good question: I think narrowing the band width with a system like lincos would help: we would eliminate lots of variables that way.

 

09:32:47 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : One thing is clear: our messages should be more that the most elementary introduction, given that the aliens will have hundreds of years to ponder them.  So send them some basic stuff and also a bunch of really interesting questions...

 

09:33:11 From John Traphagan to Everyone : Are questions and statements a product of our particular evolutionary trajectory?  Is it necessary to have questions and statements in a language?  Perhaps there is some other way to organize language. 

 

09:33:45 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : No.

 

09:34:02 From kdenning@yorku.ca to Everyone : The call vs language dichotomy would not necessarily hold in another biosphere.

 

09:34:25 From Nick Nielsen to Everyone : The dichotomy may be a spectrum.

 

09:34:50 From Nick Nielsen to Everyone : And grammatically structured communication may ramp up incrementally.

 

09:34:54 From Lucas Mix to Everyone : In >The Sparrow< we correctly interpret music as music for the sake of aesthetic appreciation rather than analytic communication. This is represented as a sign of "intelligence."

 

09:35:10 From Neil Manson to Everyone : 'sup?

 

09:35:17 From John Traphagan to Everyone : Music doesn't really ask questions.

 

09:35:20 From Linda Billings to Everyone : Lucas, I am thinking about “The Sparrow” too!

 

09:35:21 From Dan Capper to Everyone : Good point Kathryn.  I'm not sure it holds even in our own biosphere.  There is no reason to suspect that another will possess this difference.

 

09:35:25 From Dr Sheri Wells-Jensen to Everyone : Language creation people have played with the idea of language without questions. They usually end up stipulating some meta rules like: "I say a thing. You respond with a thing that's semantically parallel:  It's still basically questioning...  It's hard to let go of questions! 

 

09:35:45 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : Neil: eyebrow flash

 

09:35:50 From Neil Manson to Everyone : :-)

 

09:36:18 From William Alba to Everyone : Don't baby chicks, like human infants, also admit a lack of food by their sounds? I don't know if I would classify that as an interrogative.

 

09:36:19 From Robert.Kennedy to Everyone : i don't agree that interrogatives are limited to human

 

09:36:33 From kdenning@yorku.ca to Everyone : Ditto, Robert.

 

09:36:36 From Dr Sheri Wells-Jensen to Everyone : Music is a system and maybe communication (depending) but I would not say it's a language: from a linguist's perspective.

 

09:36:43 From Andrew Kennedy to Everyone : using music analogy, notes resolve to others. maybe we can have utterances that resolve to meaning rather than a straight question

 

09:37:13 From Carlos Santana to Everyone : The assertion/imperative/ interrogative distinction doesn't hold for calls, and sometimes not for non-natural language communication systems. Is a networked computer requesting a packet from another issuing a question or a command? The question doesn't make sense. No reason why ETI couldn't have a communication system like that.

 

09:37:18 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : And that “progression” is an continuum with no obvious differences in kind

 

09:37:35 From John Traphagan to Everyone : I think music is a system of communication.  It carries meaning that is interpreted.  It is very powerfully a form of communication among a group, such as a jazz trio, that are improvising.  I know that when I'm performing, we "talk" to each other through the improvisational forms.

 

09:37:37 From Dan Capper to Everyone : I'm with Robert.  It seems obvious to me that some Earthly nonhumans communicate what can be called interrogatives.

 

09:38:11 From Dr Sheri Wells-Jensen to Everyone : That demand / request line is super thin: it's all context,: with a little lift from syntax.

 

09:38:28 From Neil Manson to Everyone : Dogs pawing you for a treat - is that a question ("Can I have a bone?") or a command ("Give me a bone!")

 

09:39:14 From John Traphagan to Everyone : Is the differentiation between demand and request a cultural product?  If dogs don't think about the difference, then is there a difference for them? 09:39:36 From kdenning@yorku.ca to Everyone : Exactly, John.

 

09:39:41 From David DeGraff (he/him) to Everyone : Dogs ask. Cats demand.

 

09:40:17 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : And is intent necessary?  A microbe can “make a request” of another microbe in a functional sense, though presumably this is not her intent... 

 

09:40:30 From James Schwartz to Everyone : One of my cats is very clearly asking/demanding for my undivided attention.

 

09:40:35 From John Traphagan to Everyone : When my dogs need to go out, I do not think they are either asking or demanding.  They are simply trying to convey that they need to go out.  OF course, that's a guess.

 

09:40:45 From Dr Sheri Wells-Jensen to Everyone : I mean, with calls, you can only "say" a couple things: like the primates who have separate calls for hawk vs snake. I can see where pi might be interpreted as a call: also ... boring!

 

09:40:46 From Lucas Mix to Everyone : Haig's >From Darwin to Derrida< argues for a continuity between chemical signaling and semantic signaling. I'm not sure I buy it, but it's a great exploration of the topic from a biologist.

 

09:41:17 From Carlos Santana to Everyone : Kevin Zollman has an approach to distinguishing imperatives and assertions that works for non-linguistic signaling systems: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259751912_Separating_Directives_and_Assertions_Using_Lewis_Signaling_G ames

 

09:41:31 From Robert.Kennedy to Everyone : kidding aside, even cats ask permission under some circumstances ("can I come in?"), and act according to the response.  given the branch, how is that not a question?  Perhaps I missed the bit where the word "question" is defined...