When I was thinking about sentience from a scientific point of view, I was confused about the bio-electric mental difference between a paramecium, dog, human, and supercomputer.

At what point does electricity go from being random and genetic to creating logic gates for perceived "sentience" / intelligence?

  • $\begingroup$ I would guess that your issue is not specific to sentience but you are just confused between spirituality, law, philosophy and science. It is a philosopher's job to define the boundaries between these fields. You could try on Philosophy.SE, however, in its current form your question will get closed as too broad. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Sep 27 '17 at 2:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it has little to nothing to do with biology. It is a question of philosophy asking for definitions of different field of knowledge (law, science, philosophy). $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Sep 27 '17 at 2:06
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, scientists talk about consciousness as well. But really, saying that is not going to help you much, the most important for you now is to investigate the boundaries between the different fields of knowledge. Good luck! $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Sep 27 '17 at 2:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Remi.b I totally disagree with you. Studying consciousness and the theory of mind does belong to the realm of science, and biology in particular. The Cambridge declaration, which says that mammals and birds are conscious organisms, was written by scientists, not philosophers. This is an outdated perception, which harms several areas of biology, as cognitive ethology for instance, which suffers a lot because of this antiquated view. $\endgroup$ – user24284 Sep 27 '17 at 12:20
  • $\begingroup$ Besides that, I believe you're seeing things that don't exist in OP's question: OP is just asking, not using the best wording I agree, what is the limit to define an organism as a conscious individual. $\endgroup$ – user24284 Sep 27 '17 at 12:31

if you have 300 neurons and 10 of them can put you in a depressed state, you are a sad eukariote.

To compare the logic gates of a worm and a mouse? which one is sentient? a slug literally has 10k neurons and a fly has 250k. that would make a slug 25 time sless sentient than a human, and a dog less sentient than a human, but a human is equally as sentient as a dog so numerically there may be now lower bounds.

Logic Gates are electronic switches which provide routing for AND/OR/NOT/EQUALS of data types, or objects. They come into existence when you have the first cilia and sensory cells. 20 nerves are a signal routing engine, logic system.

A neuron can roughly represented by 4-8 transistors, and a logic gate is a simple transistor routing/instruction, so a worm has about 2000 logic gate equivalents. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_animals_by_number_of_neurons

A logic gate is digital, a brain is analogue, no software, , so you inadvertantly weave smoke and mirrors to clarify your question.

The question evokes electrical sentience, synapses are electrochemical, slower than electricity and can varied in many ways chemically, and they are self organizing.

feeling, aware and knowing (reductionism of sentience) are much more debated topics in science. Relative to random and genetic logic gates for intelligence, that's unclear and you are discussing free will and decision (philosophy), intelligence has unclear relation to sentience/emotion.

Your question is confusing a vast range of scientific measures by using the term sentience, which is rarely used in science. Scientists write informally about sentience as an ethical issue based on their experience, but there's only fringe research on animal sentience. https://scholar.google.fr/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=sentience+fish&btnG=

Animal psychology is a scientific topic, and sentience is metaphysical, it means feeling, aware and knowing, it's incommensurate and imprecise.

So scientists don't consider there to be such a point of sentience. They measure certain markers of sentience, such as

self awareness,

stress response,

emotional queues,




puzzle solving,

social behaviour,

hormones, that kind of thing.

There are perhaps a 2 publications about sentience in fish, none about lizards or insects, and there are thousands of books and opinions about sentience in insects and other animals.

The brain increases in size from a dozens to billions of neurons. So the progression is in stages, so awareness is likely to be a complex series of steps.

A good animal psychologist can give you an entire book about the onsent of emotions and knowing in animals.

  • $\begingroup$ reason for downvote? $\endgroup$ – aliential Sep 27 '17 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ I smugly affirm that you can't answer much better that that, and that the question was psychobabble. logic gates of sentience? $\endgroup$ – aliential Sep 30 '17 at 1:55

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.