Three days in Toronto

3 02 2016

Just had a very satisfying (if tiring) three days in Toronto.  The first two were spent in the blah subterranean ballroom of a Crowne Plaza that could have been anywhere in the world: potentially grim  … except that the meeting there was to turn the NFACC Mink Codes into a feasible on-farm audit. This is the logical next step for the Codes to have teeth, which made it very satisfying; but it was also fun thanks to the brains, work ethic and good humour of all the people — mainly mink farmers — in the room.

If this is by far my most applied work, then my third Toronto day was at the other extreme: devoted to my way more fundamental and ‘out there’ interest in developing markers of sentience (by seeing what humans can only do if they’re aware of how they feel: Walter’s thesis and beyond). I led a GTA Animal Cognition discussion group on this topic. Sarah Shettleworth did not lacerate my ideas, which was a relief, and Noam Miller had a brilliant idea: asking animals if they know what they feel (like the best metacognition experiments…).