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Knowledge Needs and Information Extraction: Towards an Artificial Consciousness by Nicolas Turenne

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Conclusion

Over the past 100,000 years, the human brain has developed intellectual capacities thanks to natural languages which animals such as higher mammals do not have. This gives human beings the capacity to interact with their peers in a complex manner, but primarily – and this is too often forgotten – to talk to themselves.

Before this long period of cognitive development, human beings evolved in the same way as other species, serving natural needs, qualified as instinctive and still present even today, which regulate our daily and annual cycle of activity. Neurobiologists have isolated molecules which transmit a warning signal about the motivation to be attached to certain requirements which, if left unsatisfied, can have a damaging impact on our health. An individual needs air; he needs to breathe at least every three minutes; he can go at most three days without water; eight days without sleep; fifty days without protein; roughly six months without sexual gratification. Otherwise, his body suffers greatly – particularly when he is young.

The hypothesis and theory developed in this book hold that our linguistic capacities have given rise to a new, cognitive need, experienced at the level of the brain’s motivational system by protein exchange, to serve an informational requirement. The timescale for degradation would not be three minutes as for breathing, but over the course of, say, three years, the mental state of an information-deprived individual will suffer terribly. ...

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