Every morning I wake up to my cat Rigel wanting to play. He jumps around the bed and brings in his favorite toy ferret, purring and stepping on us until we either get up or put him outside. Then I get up and go to get a plastic bag from the kitchen before I do anything else. I go to Rigel’s jumbo sized litter box, followed by the cat who sits next to me and watches as I clean it. As soon as I’m done he steps inside and does his business. Meanwhile, I leave to wash my hands and start washing up/brushing my teeth in the bathroom. One or two minutes later Rigel turbos in, jumps full speed onto the toilet (I always have to be sure the lid is closed before this happens - there have been incidents) and then into the sink, sticking his head and paws into the water (which I make sure is lukewarm before he gets in). We take turns at the tap for about five minutes. I leave, he sometimes rests in the sink, and then the morning pooping and cleaning ritual is over.

I remember thinking how nice it is that our cat “has a personality” during one of these mornings. It’s comforting that your pet has his own tendencies and habits. And really, I thought, a personality is just the predictable parts of someone. I like that Rigel repeats these steps predictably with me - that’s partly what makes him stand out from any other random cat. It makes you feel like you know him personally and that he has a mind of his own that has formed its own habits and ideas about the world around it - its own personality.

I think snails can also have personality. Reading any number of pet snail forums you’ll see snail owners talking about how some snails like to be handled more than others; some snails love reaching up into a stream of water and others balk at it; some snails will eat a variety of foods whereas others will get hooked on cucumbers. The snails in my simulation, too, need to feel like they have personality. They need their own patterns and habits.

I’m hoping that since the snails already store and reference sensory, short term, and long term memories this can naturally turn into snails' tendencies to react to certain situations. But right now in the simulation the vast majority of stuff happens under the hood. A snail may be making a decision based on several memories of an object, but as a user you wouldn’t even know it. You’d think “Huh, this snail decided to escape this lettuce leaf for some weirdo reason that doesn’t immediately make any sense to me”.

I need to make these patterns more visible somehow - make the reactions more obvious to the end user.

I’ve already done that in part with the Lab, where you can combine snails and items together (or snails and snails) and see what the snail’s five first reactions are. It’s kind of like a simulation of what they would do if they were in a jar and ran into another object on their own (except in a jar they may also be impacted by stuff like claustrophobia and in a lab environment this would be different).

Anyway, it’s something I have to keep in mind as I continue working on the brain and the snails' actions.

© - 2021 · Liza Shulyayeva ·