Human cuttlefish

I’ve been working recently with some colleagues who study the behavior of cuttlefish. As you may know, cuttlefish, like many cephalopods, can change their skin pattern dynamically, based on their environment.

Among other things, they can transform their appearance to look like a sandy sea-bottom, a clump of rocks, or various other natural backgrounds. This is a very effective form of camouflage. A cuttlefish can, amazingly, seem to simply vanish from one moment to the next.

In my mind, I contrast their symmetry between visual input and visual output with our own asymmetry in this regard. A human can hear sounds and also generate sounds, yet while we can see visual images, our body cannot spontaneously generate visual images in response.

Yet imagine we could. Suppose we were able to visually display our thoughts.

I am not talking about the use of external screens, but rather a built-in visual display, under direct control of our mind. How would such a capability change the human experience?

I suspect we would find our social interactions with each other altered in profound ways. It might be very difficult for us to truly understand what those social interactions would be like, but it sure is fun to try.

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