Long ago during a lecture by the late Dr. John Lilly—neuroscientist, MD at a Save the Dolphins Workshop in Sacramento, CA, he said “I would like to introduce myself to the human species!” A chill passed through my spine, since that statement seemed to acknowledge an understanding that other intelligent life forms do exist. I suspected as much from reading Lilly’s books on dolphin communication, such as Communication Between Man and Dolphin. Shaking hands with Lilly after his talk was similar to having a PET scan that sees into the nuances of the body, detecting all that you are from head to foot.
This close encounter with Lilly was inspiration for reading his books and for meeting the man in Malibu who believed that dolphins are sentient beings with intelligence equal to that of humans and with the capability of human/dolphin communication. Among Lilly’s writings, he discusses the dolphin brain as being larger and more complex in design than the human brain—suggesting that dolphins also have the potential for greater-than-human-intelligence.
Reflecting upon the possibility that dolphins have communicative intelligence suggests the idea that robots could be produced with artificial dolphin intelligence (ADI). Robots programmed with dolphin intelligence might make for a more sentient species. These robots could be designed with the mobility of a human on-land and the intelligence of a dolphin.
Analyzing what the late Toni Lilly, wife of John Lilly, has suggested leads me to say—cognitive behavior in the adult human is too advanced to alter significantly, but children in contact with dolphins have the cognitive flexibility to learn from dolphins. Toni seemed to believe that dolphins were infused with a joyful and peaceful intelligence, which many dolphin-lovers have also expressed and experienced. She suggested that bringing children in close contact with dolphins on a regular basis would instill them with the kind of joy and peacefulness that is similar to what dolphins exhibit in their watery environments. The result of this interaction over time would make a difference in the consciousness and perceptual awareness of the human species.
The question arises as to whether humans can learn from dolphins, and if so, would the learning be about how to maintain a joyful and peaceful human/dolphin co-existence. In his book, Communication Between Man and Dolphin, Lilly said, “To be able to break through to understand the thinking, the feeling, the doing, the talking of another species is a grand, noble achievement that will change man’s view of himself and of his planet.” Feature image from WujiTech’s Brainwave Game.