Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith


I have my very own plant pot!
Jan 4, 2018
North-east England
Full title: Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Alien Intelligence by Peter Godfrey-Smith

Okay, this is non-fiction. I hope that's allowed here. The author examines the conditions under which octopuses evolved their particular kind of intelligence and, in the process, reveals how remarkably alien their minds are when compared to ours. He draws on the fossil record, current scientific research and his own experiences to illustrate just how intelligent octopuses really are (you will be amazed) while also pointing out the limits of their intelligence (they won't be taking over the world for at least another 100,000 years or so).

I found the chapters on perception, communication and aging (yes, current theory suggests the aging process plays a role in the evolution of intelligence) to be most interesting. The book never falls into dry academic-speak, however, as Godfrey-Smith intersperses tons of humerous, and even touching, anecdotes about octopus behaviour. You will find yourself cheering for the octopuses when they refuse to cooperate with researchers, figure out how to short-circuit lights and escape their aquariums to go on nocturnal hunts in neighbouring fish-tanks.

So, overall, a highly enjoyable and highly informative read. And for any writers designing their own alien intelligences, a must-read for insight on how nature did it here.

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