TEDxNewYork is held at GreyNY, 200 Fifth Avenue. We meet every week (mostly) on Fridays now and (mostly) from 1-2pm. We are open to the public. If you want to attend, send a note to admin@tedxnewyork.com (that's Don McKinney & Chel O'Reilly) with your vitals. Our biggest limitation is space so give us plenty of notice and we'll do our best to accommodate. Hope to see you at one of our events soon.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Session 8: Discover - Jennifer Mather

Non-terrestrial Intelligence: Sylvia Earle & Jill Tarter both addressed Jennifer Mather's search. An octopus is so far apart from us on the tree of life. We can learn their intelligence

Cephalopods: lost the shell of the mollusk so they are very good at camouflage. They have incredible abilities of manipulation. (And, dude, with suckers, who needs thumbs, right?)

How do you find intelligence in an octopus then? What indicate it? Personalities, play & problem solving?

How do they decide they are doing this? [chel's note: they DECIDE? 'cause that's something too]

She gives a shout out to Roland Anderson in the Seattle Aquarium. They had several in captivity, who had nicknames. That's an indicator of personality right there. Definitions of personalities (don't use Freud)- you can't do an experiment (no variables), just observe. Expose animals to common situations and see what they do. They react as they see fit.

What is play? out of context, fragmentary and/or repetitious, simple, not immediately adaptive... You don't play unless you are well taken care of and bored. They put an empty pill bottle. After examining it, they did the marine equivalent of "bouncing the ball".

Problem solving. There is an arms race between clams and their predators. Clams resistant to opening? Octopus have their own built in swiss army knives of themselves. They can beat clams.

BUT do they consciousness? We're working on it. Baars' Attentional Spotlight. How do we show intelligence, and is it the same way they do? No. So we are not in competition with them because their brains are distributed in their body. We have a different kind of intelligence but perhaps just as valid.

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