Professor Paco Calvo believes that plant behavior is the key to understanding how human minds work. Plant lover Amanda Gefter clearly sees the logic in his work and delights in explaining it to us in this fascinating piece.

Artificial neural networks have led to breakthroughs in machine learning and big data, but they still seemed, to Calvo, a far cry from living intelligence. Programmers train the neural networks, telling them when they’re right and when they’re wrong, whereas living systems figure things out for themselves, and with small amounts of data to boot. A computer has to see, say, a million pictures of cats before it can recognize one, and even then all it takes to trip up the algorithm is a shadow. Meanwhile, you show a 2-year-old human one cat, cast all the shadows you want, and the toddler will recognize that kitty.