Archive for June 5th, 2014

June 5, 2014

Sentience Quotient

electric sheep

the secret life of plants by kelsey garrity

The sentience [sen-shuhnsquotient [kwoh-shuhnt] (SQ) was introduced by nanotechnology researcher Robert A. Freitas Jr. in the late 1970s. It defines sentience as the relationship between the information processing rate (in bits per second) of each individual processing unit (neuron), the weight/size of a single unit, and the total number of processing units (expressed as mass). This is a non-standard usage of the word ‘sentience,’ which normally relates to an organism’s capacity to perceive the world subjectively (it is derived from the Latin word ‘sentire’ meaning ‘to feel’ and is closely related to the word ‘sentiment’; intelligence or cognitive capacity is better denoted by ‘sapience’).

The potential and total processing capacity of a brain, based on the amount of neurons and the processing rate and mass of a single one, combined with its design (e.g. myelin coating, specialized areas) and programming, lays the foundations of the brain level of the individual. Not just in humans, but in all organisms, even artificial ones such as computers (although their ‘brain’ is not based on neurons). The SQ of an individual is therefore a measure of the efficiency of an individual brain, not its relative intelligence.

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