Ceph-related article in April Discover


Jun 20, 2003
Hi all! Danged if I quite know where to post this, but, well, my choice is here! There is an article in the April issue of Discover by Jaron Lanier, the inventor of virtual reality, about his newfound passion for cephs, and in particular their ability to "morph". Very interesting. Take a look!
The video he is refering to must be the famous footage that Roger Hanlon took of an O.vulgaris in GranD Cayman so heavily discussed here and elsewehere! Or maybe its something totally diff!$?
Is anyone here a subscriber so we can have the entire article?

I hope I'm not breaking any rules here (If I am please say so and I will get rid of this).

Here are some parts from the article in Discover:

What cephalopods can teach us about language
By Jaron Lanier
DISCOVER Vol. 27 No. 04 | April 2006 | Technology

... As far as I'm concerned, cephalopods are the strangest smart creatures on Earth. They offer the best standing example of how truly different intelligent extraterrestrials (if they exist) might be from us, and they taunt us with clues about potential futures for our own species.

Two components are involved in morphing: a change in the image or texture visible on a shape's surface and a change in the underlying shape itself. The "pixels" in the skin of a cephalopod are organs called chromatophores. These can expand and contract quickly, and each is filled with a pigment of a particular color. When a nerve signal causes a red chromatophore to expand, the "pixel" turns red. A pattern of nerve firings causes a shifting image—an animation—to appear on the cephalopod's skin. As for shapes, an octopus can quickly arrange its arms to form a wide variety of them, like a fish or a piece of coral, and can even raise welts on its skin to add texture.

Why morph? One reason is camouflage. ... Another is dinner.

... Virtual reality, an immersive computer-graphics environment that a human can "enter" and then morph himself into various things, is a pale approximation of the experience. ... Some of the earliest experimental avatars in fact were aquatic, including one that allowed a person to inhabit a lobster's body.

... Our software tools are not yet flexible enough to enable us, in virtual reality, to think ourselves into different forms. Why would we want to? Consider the existing benefits of our ability to create sounds with our mouths. We can make new noises and mimic existing ones, spontaneously and instantaneously. But when it comes to visual communication, we are hamstrung. We can mime, ... We can learn to draw and paint, or use computer-graphics design software. But we cannot generate images at the speed with which we can imagine them.

... Suppose we had the ability to morph at will: What sort of language might that make possible? Would it be the same old conversation, or would we be able to "say" new things to one another?

... Some people think that the ability to morph would just give you a new dictionary mapping to the same old set of ideas ...

... Perhaps they {cephalopods} offer a useful surrogate for thinking about one way that intelligent aliens, if and wherever they are out there, might one day present themselves to us. ... We humans think a lot of ourselves as a species; we have a tendency to suppose that the way we think is the only way to think. Maybe we need to think again.
ArchyNorth said:
I hope I'm not breaking any rules here (If I am please say so and I will get rid of this).

.... :sad: you are; if you'd like to edit it (substantially), or just include bits of it then you'd be doing me a favour (I don't want to delete it myself). I've been guilty of doing this also, and it is naughty.
Sorry about that. I had a feeling I was doing something wrong.

I've gone over it and just included some main points. If it is still not parred down enough than I will delete it. Or feel free to take it off as I don't want to offend.


Hey ArchyNorth, thanks for cleaning it up. I'm sensitive to copyright laws so I try to make sure they're not violated here. A few excerpts are fine... if there's a link to the article itself, that's best. What you've done above works. Thanks!
In my "old days" as a (science) publisher I would never get exited until 90% overlap, but that was my rule of thumb...
Argh...did not got in time to read it all! Well, at least we've got the main points, which saves time! I'm curious to know what video he was talking about in the abstract. He doesn't talk about that anymore?

Feel responsible for pushing the bAD act :oops: ...my apologies to all


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