It was a conference held in March in London. Subject: Animal intelligence. Obviously (if you've been reading this blog) you know that it's a subject of great interest to me, particularly information entropy , or more generally, information theory . But I was concerned when I read this:
that the burden of proof should not be on those trying to prove the sentience of animals, but rather on those seeking to disprove it!
I have to say that I totally disagree with this. I'm not an "animal rights" person although I believe that animals should not be abused (and I prefer free-range meat). But I think that it's more than likely that MOST animals are not conscious, which is a good definition of sentience in my opinion.
Another way to look at it is that in order to understand and communicate with animals, we must work at it. And that would be a key step in proving that animals (or certain animals anyway) are sentient.
It really bothers me when people argue for protecting animals, or for animal intelligence, from an emotional level. What I want is scientific evidence and useful tools to communicate with them.
And of course, I think that engaging in this exercise will be very helpful in SETI .