They really are remarkable animals and unbelievably inquisitive. Trying to keep them from escaping, even from a relatively small 250 gallon tank was always a challenge and I can only imagine how difficult it is to retrofit the larger tanks they inhabit at public aquariums to be escape proof.
They two I kept were incredibly tactile in their curiosity and loved exploring my arms/hands whenever I put them into their tank. They would readily eat small crabs and shrimp right from my fingers and seemed to like playing tug of war, clinging to my hand with a few tentacles and them some of the heavier rocks with the others. Lego blocks, clear acrylic piping, small plastic toys would keep them busy for hours on end.
Many people don’t realize this but they are unfortunately (or fortunately for humans) remarkably short lived. Most species live only for 1-1.5 years and even the Giant Pacific Octopus usually only lives for 3-5 years. I would always jokingly remark to friends that if they had a longer life span on the order of a decade or more, they probably would have invented some kind of breathing apparatus and conquered land long ago. They would probably have a much more advanced space program by now as well.
I suppose that also means they reproduce very quickly, which is a good thing in light of the other discussion here about sustainability of consuming them as food.
In captivity octopuses are considered relatively difficult to keep due to their sensitivity to water quality. They have a fairly narrow band of acceptable levels of pH, ammonia, nitrite, and salinity. Copper is pretty much Kryptonite to an octopus. I’m unsure what the potential is for large scale changes in oceanic chemistry but I imagine it would be devastating to octopuses, along with overfishing.
I’m actually curious how serious a threat overfishing is. Seeing as how difficult they are to contain I wonder if most commercially available octopus are specifically fished for or are just a byproduct of some other fishing and whether this has a large affect on their populations.
We are down from pre-industrial 8.25 pH to 8.08, and no sign of slowing. Major changes are certain. I don't know if this means the water will dissolve more metals like Cu, but it seems possible.
Also, the cuttlefish: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/camo/anat-nf.html
A particular light in a German aquarium kept short-circuiting and no one could figure out why. Using camera surveillance it was finally discovered that every night, the octopus would climb to the edge of his tank and shoot a jet of water on the light, shorting it. It was speculated that the light had been bothering the octopus' nocturnal routine.
Let's not attribute any aspect of his behaviour to the crippling reality of captivity. Oh, no.
That seems to support the previous posters theory.
So let's move the light further away, but keep it on, because it suits us to keep it on when he's sleeping =(.
Poor little guy. sigh
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cephalopod_intelligence
Most of what is/isn't acceptable to eat is based on history and popular socially accepted practices, not whether people think their prospective dinner is intelligent. Pigs are more intelligent than dogs yet the latter are not eaten in the western world and I wouldn't want to live in a world without the (delicious) former.
I agree with you that social norms (esp. in your dog/pig example) put irrational values on propensity to use certain animals for meat, when we use intelligence as a deciding factor. But my point was less about intelligence of an animal being the deciding factor of whether or not I eat it, but really about how my grief for that animal intensifies when I find out it has been mistreated, and especially when used in 'delicacy' cooking (my sushi example where the mistreatment of squid can be painful to watch).
There's something inherently saddening in thinking that an animal who has the ability to 'escape' from its tank and slide down a drain pipe back into its habitat could be re-caught and sliced up into little bits in front of tourists. If we know it's that intelligent, then what is going through its mind? — Perhaps we should wait for better AI so we can run a neural net and figure it out! ...But would that be unethical, too?... Uh oh, I'm not going down this rabbit hole tonight. ;)
 — NOT FOR THE FAINT-HEARTED: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkAqdh_kLbs
>In the usual agricultural animals this is usually straightforward and easy as a consumer — think organically-fed, free-range chickens.
I'd counter that it's incredibly not straight forward for consumers. In the US (which I'm the most familiar with), organic has no bearing on the treatment of the animal and qualifiers like "free-range" are either loosely defined or undefined with no third-party oversight. Top that off with ubiquitous practices that most people are surprised by (such as chickens reaching slaughter age in just 6 weeks), I think it's incredibly difficult for people to find products that they can confirm and agree with the ethics of.
> how can slaughtering them
> for food be considered
If we accept that animals are worthy of moral consideration, then unnecessarily harming them is unequivocally immoral.
Life begets life.
Death is part of life.
Where necessary, living requires killing.
Where people cultivate The Golden Rule, life will get better and death will get fewer.
Animals eating pray is different; we humans however can choose and we do not need to. Even if I think if you (or someone else but not some bio factory) get up in the morning and chase your own boar, hang it and slaughter it then it is ok but buying some packet in the shop should at least give you pause.
Let me know how the dogfood works out that would be good.
The word originates from the Latin verb sentire, "to feel". Plants feel their environment. The Venus Fly Trap feels when an insect is on it, for example.
>Plants are sessile, highly sensitive organisms that actively compete for environmental resources both above and below the ground. They assess their surroundings, estimate how much energy they need for particular goals, and then realise the optimum variant. They take measures to control certain environmental resources. They perceive themselves and can distinguish between ‘self’ and ‘non-self’. They process and evaluate information and then modify their behaviour accordingly.
Biocommunication of Plants, http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783642235238
A more valid argument is that the sound or sight of killing an animal is more off-putting than killing a plant, which is of course a purely subjective sentiment, hence the deeming of "right vs wrong" which is itself a purely subjective sentiment.
Sentience is defined as the capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively. Since we have very little understanding of how consciousness works and how to test discern whether an entity is conscious or not, I realize this is a sticking point for a lot of people. But I think you'll agree that there's a very real difference between killing a plant and killing a member of your family. And that distinction applies to many animals as well.
Lobsters an wasps are having about the same neuron count, slightly more than mosquitos.
Tangent hidden in Mahamrityunjaya: If your unit of analysis of Life consists of one body of directly wired cells, then death for it would seem to occur when it stops nourishing itself or starts nourishing another body of directly wired cells. If on the other hand your unit of analysis for Life is Life, then replanting its seed is its continuation, afaict. This opens a paradox... If eating a head of lettuce seems fine while a new crop grows, then why not a head of cow while its calves grow too?
People can get trapped in their heads by paradoxes, so I like to go by my gut and my heart (don't worry, they're connected to my brain and they have a lot of neurons, see peripheral nervous system) and econophysics(?linked document seems to have changed a lot). So, basically cold, hard calculation in a warm, soft body. If I can run my home on cow meat and feel good about it then bravo, but I can't for two reasons: 1) I love Life and want to maximize and respect it 2) eating cows is horrendously inefficient, for example you can get 6x as much meat from the same exact inputs of feed and water from meat rabbits.
Meat rabbit production seem like a very good investment right now and a potential focal point for planning my near-term food sources. They can also eat the grain stalks and inedible carrot leaves etc, and their poop works extremely well for compost. I want simply to figure out how to make the most of my available inputs, so if I can turn those green leaves into mushroom food instead and still grow enough grain while I use those stalks for construction projects etc, then great. We're talking about living here, so it's a matter of costs and benefits, right?.. what's Life worth?
1) Animals in nature kill each other all the time for food and sport.
2) All eating after a certain cell count for a creature requires death in some way.
3) Death is inevitable; life is not.
4) Force is the determinate factor for making something happen.
5) The universe does not care for life or death. It is merely a thing. It too will die taking all life within it with it.
Construct a moral set from those points (add more if necessary). I contend that you can't seat any ethics on it except might makes right. Anything other than that is merely a personal preference with no justification outside of the amount of force one can apply.
As a result I see no distinction between what is food and what is friend. It is merely personal preference. Sentience does not provide any actual force. It might cause your force to act, but it does not, in and of itself, mean anything.
To get out a head of it since it's been bandied about: cannibalism is impractical because it leads to the destruction of society when applied to the general population. I did not say it's wrong, for it is only death, which as we've seen is just part of nature. I say it makes commerce and society difficult if applied internally as well as outwardly. We, as a society, have a preference for this stability. We, as a group of actors, have the ability to force this view by our combined strength such as police and other law enforcement institutions.
While I find the theoretical discussion of morality interesting, I'm far more driven by the practical discussions. People generally accept a moral axiom, explicitly or implicitly, something along the lines of "Harming other individuals unnecessarily is wrong". If that is the case, I'm going to argue for the consistent application of that principle, which is also where sentience enters the conversation. If they don't hold a similar moral axiom (which I've found is fairly rare), then I don't really have any ground to stand on in this debate. I'm certainly not equipped, if it's even possible, to make a moral argument from first principles.
Why? What benefit does metaphysical materialism have to living a good life?
If ventures like Memphis Meats (meat without the animals) get off the ground the whole matter could become a non-issue.
I'd say it has mostly changed with added hypocrisy. The 20th century saw more bloodshed (and from supposedly developed western countries) than any other century in history. And the 21st is off to a good start, sarcastically speaking.
Have to read the book, but is it? Total numbers/percentages wise? I'm not so sold.
I mean, if you hunt an animal for sport, then you better eat it as well, or just leave hunting to park rangers who do it for ecological reasons.
> dogs yet the latter are not eaten
Yes, it's a huge hypocrisy that we condemn those who eat dogs, but I like to think it's because dogs have been man's best friend for so long that we have an emotional attachment too strong to break.
* Make their own decisions on what to eat.
* Understand the externalities, exogenous, and endogenous process and consequences of their decisions.
* Take full personal, civic, and environmental responsibility for those decisions.
Essentially, as long as people are forthright, honest, and accountable about what they eat, where it comes from, and the ecological footprints their choices implicate, then have at it, eat whatever.
Eating is clearly a very personal thing, but it's silly to pretend that morality suddenly ceases applying.
If we're going to try to come up with a system, mine is simply (borrowed): I like beef and broccoli, mind your business. I readily admit this doesn't cover every corner case, but I don't think there can be a satisfactory system that does. Many things have to be determined by context and taste, and usually aren't even worth thinking about if you're not in a position of power and responsibility over the lives of others.
What if a person whose fantasy was to kill and cook another person met a person who fantasy was to be killed and cooked? Then this happened. What penalty should ensue for the (well-fed) survivor?
And lest you think this is some weird hypothetical, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armin_Meiwes may enlighten you otherwise.
Person A kills person B and B wants to be dead/killed.
...what about human meat grown in a lab...?
Firstly, the wealthy (and then the middle classes) will have meat prepared that is genetically identical to themselves, and will serve it to dinner guests.
Secondly, one will be able to buy celebrity meat at the supermarket. The future equivalent of a Tom Cruise burger, or a Scarlett Johansson steak.
If someone said "I'm comfortable with the legal consequences of cannibalism and murder along with the possibility that the person may actually kill me before I get to them" and they actually are held to those postulations, including say, life-imprisonment AND they still want to do it all just so they can eat human for supper, then sure, go for it!
If you say "Well nobody would be ok with industrial slaughterhouses or a number of other things" I say, "yes, that's kinda the point here."
So if we're willing to say a specific action is worth jailing someone for the rest of their life, why shouldn't we say "This action is not okay and we're going to do our best to prevent it"?
Basically, free will (and the physical manifestation of it: liberty) is argued to be more important than the lack of evil. And you can't have realistic free will and liberty without accepting that bad things will happen.
>* Make their own decisions on what to eat.
is totally unacceptable when you're "making a decision" to enslave, torture, murder, and consume a sentient, feeling creature.
What some people are asking is if we should extend this to some other species, typically other apes (which share 90% of our genes etc...) and now animals with high intelligence (elephant, dolphin, octopus).
Note that my conditions make people on the hook for everything - the treatment of the workers that prepared the food, the environmental impact of delivering it, the treatment of the animals constituting the food, the health effects of choosing what to eat ... all of that.
I think that if someone was forced to have a pet pig for a while they'd probably stop eating pork or if they were forced to be a single mother living on minimum wage they'd probably fight on behalf of fast food workers.
My supposition is that people shouldn't voluntarily shroud themselves in ignorance for culinary delight but instead, should take full responsibility for all of their actions, at the dinner table and in all aspects of life.
Unfortunately, this is often not the case in my own experience. It certainly does for some people, but that course is by no means universal. And when the well-being of other thinking, feeling individuals is at stake, I'd rather not rely on this kind of approach.
In my family we often used to eat chicken and while eating them the only thing on mind was how it tasted and how it was cooked etc. Then my parents started rearing some chickens in their backyard. That changed everything. There were about 7 or 8 of them. As the chicks grew up, they could identify each of them and know about individual treats. They would call some of them by names and slowly their nature was becoming more evident. They still eat eggs but they eat chicken meat rarely at some social event. They cannot even think about killing one of the chickens that they have. Its just emotionally too painful for just food!
This really works i think. But you have to rear them in small numbers to get connected to animals and then observe the changes in your thinking. You may still have them for food but it would be a conscious decision which you would not take lightly, like considering it as some food lying around.
I actually have neighbors who treat their chickens like pets for several years then give them to someone to slaughter. They don't eat them but they're fine with other people eating them and they're fine with eating other chickens.
The thing I'm not ok with is people who pretend like they are the modern incarnation of St. Francis of Assisi while eating animals for every meal and having a bunch of leather goods.
Such people aren't saintly patrons of the animals and they should come to terms with it. It's really just about honesty.
Would you sing the same tune if you were the one that they wanted to eat?
Would you be ok with changing legislation so that it is ok to kill humans as long as it is to eat them.
This is what people are discussing here, should we legislate against killilling animals with "high intelligence" and those who share more genes with us than with any other animal, as long as it is for food?
The positions I outlined are my justification for my personal goals of radical sustainability and veganism.
I understand when people aren't like me so long as they are OK with the full duty cycle of their personal decisions
Most carnivores would probably agree that it's cruel to cut your bacon from a live pig, yet would eat bacon cut from a dead one.
Being non-people, this is not surprising.
In particular, nothing constitutes an ethical problem for animals, computers, plants, and other non-human entities, while some things are unethical for people.
I'm not saying that people are "inherently more moral" than animals, or "far superior", I'm saying that they're inherently people while animals inherently aren't people. A lion will never compare its own behavior to the behavior of a toad or an elephant or a human in order to judge its propriety, but you do this sort of thing, and you doing so is inherently human. A lion doesn't argue that it's superior to its prey and hence it's OK to eat it alive, but you do make this argument (or a different argument, the point is you're arguing about this on the Internet) and this is inherently a human thing.
You being a human makes it possible for me to ask you, why would you want to eat an animal alive, why not kill it first? What's in it for you? It's obviously painful for the animal and the vast majority of humans derive a certain degree of displeasure from observing the suffering of living organisms that they don't have a particular reason to harm. Perhaps the desire for philosophical consistency is the inherently human trait causing you to argue in favor of eating animals alive ("since most of us would kill an animal to save a human's life, it must also be OK to cause animals suffering for a near-zero gain or even just to derive pleasure from it, otherwise it's a slippery slope at the end of which we grant animals voting rights")?
You can be personally against something without boycotting whole aspects of your life (lions, other people, Lambda conferences)
Edit: then eat it
I didn't say it wouldn't be worth living. I said that, given the choice, I'd rather live in a world with ham, bacon, and baby back ribs.
And 'would not want to live in a world without'? That is a strange remark on many levels; if pigs are deamed sentient tomorrow and hence offlimits like humans you go for suicide or become a criminal?
The only reason it's more outrageous is because it's 'obvious,' I imagine. In the West, we like our animal cruelty to be kept strictly behind closed doors.
Some ethicist should come up with an electronic controller that keeps the chickens or whatever alive by stimulating neurons like the brain would, but which clearly has no consciousness attached.
Actually, this entire business of needing a whole chicken to make chicken meat seems inefficient. I wonder if there's a way to grow meat tissue like you would algae?
Plus you only need a couple of animals for breeding/cell harvest.
If you don't have all of the nasty digestion bits of a bird, you lost a lot of the nasty disease bits.
If you only have the meat parts of the bird, you don't waste any growth resources on non-saleable parts of the bird.
We could call it a "brain".
It certainly is not that case that just because you do not consume animals means you keep them in humane conditions.
As for Octopus, it appears a bit more iffy .
As for intelligence, that's secondary to sustainability for my eating habits at this point.
 - http://www.neaq.org/conservation_and_research/projects/fishe...
 - http://seafood.edf.org/octopus#bmb=1
In fact, there isn't even anecdotal evidence listed.
That said, in my opinion, as it relates to optimal ecosystems, sentience at best might be a consideration.
Impact, contribution, etc. to an ecosystem would be a more natural measure.
A wolf doesn't really care about the relative intelligence of the rabbits it kills, but has a natural kinship between other wolves or wolf-like creatures which more-or-less extends to, "I wont kill you for food unless I'm starving."
Human society tends to operate on that logical fallacy. The badness/awfulness of others is taken to justify "extreme measures" from our own side. (And I would agree that this is wrong.)
That aside, unclear how wolves relate to the topic.
Generally speaking, most life on Earth doesn't even eat other living organisms, but the naturally left remains of living organisms.
This is why using selective terms for the type of dietary intake is scientifically useful. Carnivores that eat other carnivores (on a preferential basis) are rare. Typically herbivores are eaten by omnivores or carnivores. The only real moralities involved in these distinctions relate to energy efficiency and likelihood of diseases being a concern. Of course self awareness (sentience) is an additional layer of consideration on top of the evolutionary pressures.
Learn more about detritus here:
Expanding this idea to machines is very easy. It is ok to treat a machine like a slave that is only capable of moving an object from point a to point b? How about a machine that has a self-aware AI?
To put that another way; a limited body should have a limited intelligence by design.
I don't understand why eating smart animals like cows or pigs has a substantive relationship to human prosperity, except with respect to ecological reasons. If the argument is about sustainability, then I think a lot of people can get into that discussion. But if the argument stems from the idea that we should simply feel bad for killing smart cows and pigs, then I don't understand.
I would also say that under my definition of morality, goals are more important than means. Therefore, just as I would think it bad to let a human starve or be eaten in a forest, by extension, if we were to regard "smart animal" prosperity as the goal, then we would also think it morally negligent to simply throw up our hands and say "the wild took its course with that one!".
So what is your moral premise?
(killing smart animals like cows or pigs) => (mediating factors) => (? moral outcome you're attempting to build consensus on ?)
We simply have to transcend nature if we want to feel good about ourselves. Maybe once we master technology, we can reprogram the mess of this Universe (at some point we will be dealing with pure computer science instead of physics, which will be just a consequence of some mathematical structures and algorithms running on top of them). I never understood why so many humans worship nature - nature is broken, it's like a fairly balanced pathological system, showing some wonders (Moon-Earth distance allowing total eclipses) as well as atrocities (basically all what is nasty about life itself).
That's all too common.
Focusing on a particular way of killing them that strikes humans as gruesome doesn't interest me as much as the global treatment of them.
Eating live shrimp is a thing though.
Personally, I see far better attributes as being measures of whether we should harm other individuals (sentience should be the qualifier), but I can see how intelligence may make its way into these conversations.
They decide to die by starvation after laying eggs and the majority of the babies are killed while they are defenseless.
With any organization and cognition that they don't have to die at this point in their life, they could perhaps take over the ocean.
EDIT: And I know this does not justify anything, but "intelligent" animals in the wilderness also eat each others all the time. If we were to find out that they "get" that the other species they eat are also intelligent and have feelings, then why wouldn't it be acceptable for humans to do the same?
> ... wouldn't it be acceptable for humans to do the same?
Edit: Re-reading your comment, I think this isn't a charitable interpretation. I'll assume that you don't think cruelty in nature justifies human cruelty unless the animals are knowingly cruel.
I still don't agree with you however. I don't think it's acceptable to wrong someone/an animal just because they knowingly wronged someone else/a different animal.
They are still brilliant.
We need to eat to survive. Animals/plants/bacteria etc. need to eat as well. Why is killing/damaging plants more acceptable than killing/damaging animals? Why do we want to kill viruses that are eating our bodies? How many insects did you kill on the way to work today and didn't even notice? Simply no good answers :-( Hence cyberspace vs meatspace etc.
To me, this cheapens the article. There are readers who are going to think that the octopus actually predicted those wins, when any thoughtfully rational observer would understand that it was merely a lucky happenstance.
Sure, it was chance. But not a "pick a winner in hindsight" scam.
Yes he did - the message was 'I don't want to live in a glass box'
And here's a "tool using" octopus - carring a coconut shell to hide in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DoWdHOtlrk
While we were there, it was dancing for us, speeding across the tank like I'd never seen. He really looked like he'd love to be free. So the question had to be asked, "What if he wants to get out?"
The aquarium attendant told us something in the vein of, if he gets out, he gets out. If he wants to be free, he will get free.
I thought that was an interesting answer, though I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I can tell you that if it tried to get free while I was there, I'd probably get the heck out of the aquarium. It resembled an alien, and I'm afraid of most giant things from the sea.
> The aquarium’s manager, Rob Yarrall, told Radio New Zealand that employees had searched the aquarium’s pipes after discovering Inky’s trail, to no avail.
In that vein, how often do octopi get out of the water (except when being brought out by humans)? And, are they aware of "water" vs "not-water"?
I already lmgtfy.com'ed all of these... just adding to the discussion.
And while a lost human might reason about following a river to civilization, I don't think there are similar drains in the ocean. If it made that connection, I am seriously impressed! While that's a well known tactic for explorers, many lost humans don't know it and don't figure it out!
My leading guess, though, is that he observed workers pouring other ocean things, probably including some tasty octopus food, down the drain.
Properly engineered drains are, especially if they have traps. You must hang around different drains than I.
What's more, we're computer scientists. If anyone should be aware that something can seem intelligent without sentience it should be us. Who here hasn't explored chat bots or game AI mechanics? Yet these inventions are remarkably simple compared with even the most basic of evolution's creations.
Are venus fly traps sentient because they catch food in their "mouths"? Of course not. Our knee-jerk reaction to equate behavior with sentience illustrates just how bad we humans are of seeing reality without an anthropomorphic lense.
It is far more likely that human beings became unusual because of our sentience, not that animals remain base in spite of theirs.
As for other animals, I'm not so convinced that the same extrapolation stands.
It's possible he exhibiting long term goal oriented planning here.
Have we considered octopi might actually be more intelligent than humans?
Wouldn't it be funny if in the future we figured out how to communicate with them and they ended up solving our hardest problems or making breakthroughs in physics and math?
We're fairly dumb as feral individuals, but give us a herd memory for science and math and we can fly to the moon.
Octopi not only don't live very long, they're also aggressively solitary. So they have the usual smart-animal problem of starting life as a blank slate with a few baked-in instincts and no way to learn from previous generations.
The blank slate cycle has been repeating for millions of years, so they're unlikely to change now.
If they did, we'd be in trouble.
But you're right. A single human with no knowledge is not very intelligent. It's disconcerting if you think about it.
Before we jump on the intelligent octopus bandwagon, lets realize that intelligence in one area does not mean they are intelligent or some how superior in another. Qualification and acceptance in society transcends beyond intelligence.
The cost of being able to manipulate 8 arms is octopus arms don't provide a lot of feedback to the brain and handle a lot of things reflexively.
Is there some secret octopus cabal out there that's advancing the secret octopus news agenda?
FWIW, I am a huge fan of cephalopods and have a large octopus tattoo enshrining my admiration for the animal. They certainly are highly intelligent, so the story isn't impossible.