Octopus “Imagination”: The fascination with its intelligence reaches the level of science fiction

Something is happening to us with octopuses, And it’s not like his tentacles grilled on a bed of potato chips have become a plague on restaurant menus. Moreover, this trend may lead us to look at that recipe differently. Fascinated by the intelligence of these animals They are shellless mollusks (our cute snail cousins) but with amazing abilities and eyes that can look us in the face, they haven’t stopped growing in recent years. She started with scholarly studies and popular books, then moved to television with documentaries What did the octopus teach me? From Netflix, continuing a somewhat scholarly debate about whether or not his bizarre nature is this consciousness It has come to promote campaigns against breeding farms For food in the Canary Islands … and now All this interest creeps into science fiction literature. No, we’re not talking about the fact that since Lovecraft, some good tentacles always improve the horror story. These are the books to start with Guess how a human could relate to such a different intelligence. Good science fiction. how mountain in the seaby Ray Nayler Revelation novel of this kind in 2022 in the US now translated by David Tejera for Nova or Chaos heirsby Adrian Tchaikovsky (death). Both biologists, by the way.

Why this interest? “It’s hard to see why. Sometimes many people invent the same thing at the same time because everything is in the air in the spirit of the time,” admits Nayler, one of the participants these days at the Celcius Festival in Aviles. But there are objective reasons why these organisms are of interest, as the investigation revealed Their ability to solve complex problems.

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“It’s a wonderful animal. They evolved independently for 500 million years, and our last common ancestor was a flatworm, and the result is two intelligent creatures, very different but sharing a curiosity about the world. The octopus is interesting because although it is very strange and different, with a completely different brain and neurological structure, we are very similar to it. It has even evolved a very human-like eye that allows you to make visual contact,” explains this consultant for creating marine reserves for the US Federal Meteorology and Oceanographic Agency, NOAA.

In his book, in a world dominated by corporations developing androids and disturbing AI systems with the destruction of the seabed, A scientist attempts to communicate with a species of octopus that seems to have developed, on the Vietnamese archipelago of Con Dao, a seemingly primitive society, But society is after all, with a symbolic language and certain intentions toward humans.

Although the first impulse to mountain in the sea It was “the idea that science fiction in general takes the idea of ​​alien communication less seriously than it should”. After watching the movie Accessthat did not fall into this error, Nailer attempted something similar, turning deciphering a completely alien form of communication into an engaging story, not with aliens but with real species. “I chose the octopus because it has always fascinated me and It seems to me one of the most likely candidates for a species that might one day evolve to have complex symbol-based communication, It is what distinguishes man from other animal contacts.”

It is not idle to talk about aliens. A few years ago, an article by 33 Scientists speculated that the arrival of the seed of life on the back of a meteorite might be the origin of these organisms. Something that was immediately discredited by his colleagues but left a seed floating.

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Yes, Adrian Tchaikovsky is traveling in space Chaos heirs. Here the octopuses are just a few steps from the Niler. Turns out the terraforming experiment was just a frog and thousands of years later, human explorers (and spiders, but we won’t spoil this one anymore): advanced octopuses that have also conquered space travel and don’t quite trust those who gave them this little nudge through genetic manipulation. The challenge is the same again: the massive effort to get one species to speak an oral language and another to communicate across the surface of its body to cooperate.

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Neiler did not read Tchaikovsky in order to “maintain a firewall” that would not affect him. But he preferred to understand the concepts Articles like Octopus Spirit: Learn about the most amazing creatures on the planetby Sly Montgomery (six paral) or other minds. The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousnessby Peter Godfrey Smith (Taurus). Essential readings on the subject, though perhaps for popular purposes, the documentary had more impact What did the octopus teach me?And Diver and film director Craig Foster filmed a year-long romantic relationship with a female octopus in a kelp forest off South African waters. But to develop empathy (even going so far as to invoke Pescanova’s octopus farmer), it’s not necessary to reach Craig Foster’s level of intimacy. says the author of the book mountain in the sea.

Foster’s story ends badly: his core dies a year later, as it should. This is exactly the obstacle for octopuses to truly develop a civilization, their life expectancy dooming them to live on their own. Which prompts us to relativize what they are capable of in reality (not in fiction, where extending their lives helps narrative purposes) and what they are not. “You have to imagine,” Nayler suggests, “that every human emerges in a forest, without any contact with other humans and has only two years to learn how to live. An octopus does that. It floats in the ocean current after hatching until it sinks to the bottom and must begin to survive. Without any transmission of knowledge between generations, but not just by sand instinct, because every territory adapts to every impulse. They take them in and use them as shelter. Are we smart enough to understand this intelligence? We’ll see what they’ll be able to do if they can do it.” They were able to pass on their culture from generation to generation, breaking down those biological barriers and forming a community.”

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