Plants can also be sentient, researcher says

Photo credit: Kolforn (Wikimedia), CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

At one point, claims of animal consciousness and/or intelligence focused on, say, chimpanzees and dolphins, where animals were quite like humans than what is supposed by intelligence or conscience was clear. Maybe not clear enough for a philosopher but clear enough for practical purposes. The intelligence of the octopus came as a little surprised because it is an invertebrate. But these comparisons with mammals and birds showed that we were still talking about the same thing.

We are now told in scientific publications that bees feel and think and that spiders dream. As science slowly moves towards panpsychism (all life forms participate in consciousness), we are even learning – in scientific journals – that viruses are intelligent and the cells are cognitive.

The race is on

So who would be surprised now by the race to demonstrate that are plants conscious? Researcher at the University of Murcia Paco Calvo, described at ResearchGate as “a leading figure in the philosophy of plant behavior and signaling”, has developed, together with colleagues, what he sees as a test of consciousness for plants:

First, they ask if the behavior is flexible and proactive; second, they ask whether this behavior is anticipatory; finally, third, they determine whether this behavior is goal-directed.

Maggie HarrisonNEW EXPERIMENTS EXAMINE IF PLANTS CAN BE CONSCIOUS BEINGS” TO The byte AUGUST 27, 2022

They think they have found what they were looking for in Pole beans:

Together with Vicente Raja of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy in London, Canada, they used time-lapse photography to document the behavior of 20 potted bean plants, grown either close to a support pole or without a pole, up to the tip of the shoot. came into contact with the post. Using these images, they analyzed the dynamics of shoot growth, finding that their approach was more controlled and predictable when a pole was present. The difference was analogous to sending a blindfolded person into a room containing an obstacle, and either telling them about it or dropping them into it.

“We see these signatures of complex behavior, the one and only difference being that it’s not neuron-based like it is in humans,” Calvo said. “It’s not just adaptive behavior, it’s anticipatory, flexible and goal-directed behavior.”

LINDA GEDDES,FOOD FOR THOUGHT? FRENCH BEAN PLANTS SHOW SIGNS OF INTENT, SCIENTISTS SAY” TO THE GUARDIAN (JANUARY 8, 2021); THEIR PAPER, POSTED IN SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, IS IN FREE ACCESS.

Expect. Boston Dynamics could program a robot to do all of this. Does the program make the robot conscious?

Plants under anesthesia

Calvo also points to touch-me-nots and Venus flytraps, which can be anesthetized using conventional medical anesthetics. He asks,

If plants can be “asleep”, does this mean that they exist in a state of consciousness extinguished by anesthetics? Can we consider this state as a kind of sensitivity, a subjective inner experience? If so, do plants have a form of consciousness? These are controversial ideas, but Calvo and a small group of plant behavior researchers take them seriously. Their findings so far, though tentative, could disrupt our understanding of consciousness – not to mention our attitudes towards plants.

NATALIA LAURENTNEW RADICAL EXPERIENCES THAT LEAVE VEGETAL CONSCIOUSNESS” TO NEW SCIENTIST (AUGUST 24, 2022)

It may just mean that the chemical is slowing down plants as well as people.

Read more on The mind matterspublished by the Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence at the Discovery Institute.