04 September 2016

Pattern recognition: What makes us human!

I have been thinking of writing a blog post for some time now on what makes us human.
Increasingly scientists are finding characteristics that were hitherto thought to be uniquely human in many animals and birds. Take tool usage, from Egyptian eagles to apes there are lot of animals that use tools. Feeling emotion as canine lovers would declare is definitely not the preserve of humans. So what makes us human? Unbridled violence?
Looking for a more positive answer I thought of finding patterns. While I do not have the knowledge or understanding of the neuroscience behind it I believe (ok that's a conjecture and not a scientific hypothesis!) that the humans have the ability, nay, the uncontrollable requirement of finding patterns perhaps where none even exist. For example, disparate human cultures have quite imaginatively found patterns of various mythical creatures in the star constellations. In fact, one of the primary endeavours of scientific effort is to classify things. Which is just another name for finding patterns. A lot of good has come of this pattern finding, right from theory of evolution to scales of music. But is this uniquely human?

That is a question only scientists can answer!


Anupam Choudhury said...

The thing about pattern recognition is that I think at a less self-aware level almost all animals are doing. A computer can be taught to find out patterns. It's a lot of data crunching and some basic rules. I suspect pattern recognition has something to do with evolution as well.

One thing that truly intrigues me is our concept of 'I'. Is that the truly unique human trait?

Saswat said...

Agreed with Anupam that the concept of "I" seems to be important. And being aware of "I" is self awareness. However, what is interesting is, and this is along Rohit's suggestions, what happens when a highly self aware entity is also equipped with the ability of finding patterns. Perhaps, this is what is unique to humans? Human beings spend years trying to find patterns, very persistently, and in a very self aware way (reap rewards after figuring out patterns).

Esha das said...

That's a unique urge of your Rohit! Keep writing and enlighten us more. And I go with the concept of evolution.