Philosophy lecturer Amia Srinivasan reviews 'Other Minds' by Peter Godfrey-Smith:
Since a comparison with the human brain tells us so little, scientists turn to the octopus’s behaviour as the best indicator of its cognitive power. But here researchers are often frustrated by what Godfrey-Smith describes as a ‘mismatch’ between anecdotal reports and experimental studies. In the lab, octopuses do fairly well: they can navigate mazes, use memory to solve simple puzzles and unscrew jars and child-proof bottles to get food (octopuses have also been filmed opening jam jars from the inside). Yet it can take octopuses a surprisingly long time to be trained in new behaviours, which some researchers have taken as a sign of their cognitive limitations.
If only the octopus were more like us, we might be better at leaving it alone.
Definitely something I'm going to have to pick up. At the moment I'm very much in the 'You want alien intelligences: they're right here.' school of thought.