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Seems unlikely with any sapient intelligence. If the intelligence understands mathematics then some form of communication will be possible. Consider:

  0 1 2 3 4 5 ...
  0 + 0 = 0
  0 + 1 = 1
  1 + 1 = 2
  1 + 2 = 3
There are only so many ways that you can express these ideas. With any kind of written language, or spoken language that can be identified as speech, it seems quite likely that we’d be able to discern the meaning of mathematical truths and statements like these - no matter how different the intelligence is from humans. Regardless of the symbols used or writing system, there will be certain commonalities that make it possible to find the meaning.

I would contend that for any human-level intelligence with a written mathematical language, if the intelligence wrote down their expression of the mathematical ideas above, we would be able to identify them and understand them.

I could see this being difficult if we don’t recognize speech or writing for what it is, though. But once we do I think the meaning of mathematics at least will be self-evident with study.




If I've understood you correctly, you're discussing translation. Wilson was discussing the fact that we may simply have wildly different /types/ of thought.


This idea is explored a bit in the Ender's Game universe [1], it definitely seems pretty compelling that non-human intelligence might be so utterly incompatible with our own thoughts that even beginning to communicate might be entirely impossible.

[1] http://enderverse.wikia.com/wiki/Hierarchy_of_Foreignness


For a fictional exploration of different experiences with apparently sentient creatures, Peter Watts' "blindsight" is some of the best sci-fi I've ever had the pleasure of reading.




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