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The Internet

The Internet For Parrots 167

AndrewD writes: "Picked this up from the print edition of New Scientist. It's about the development of web browsers for animals, in this case a 17-month-old african grey parrot. Here is the researcher's site." This does explain all that aol.com traffic.
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The Internet for Parrots

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  • Now this isn't just problem solving, this is knowing what's going on and planning ahead.

    I like to explore the two-tracks in the national forest areas nearby. Many times I have noticed that a vehicle will attract a hawk, who will circle around and swoop out low ahead of it repeatedly. I wondered at this. One day, a hawk dropped down right in front of the jeep and nailed a vole or other small rodent. I realized, the hawks have figured out that vehicles tend to startle and flush a lot of small, tasty morsels from undercover, they overfly the trail just ahead keeping an eye out.

    "I will gladly pay you today, sir, and eat up


  • Our bird managed to figure out how to break out of the cage. For years he never tried, then when the other one died, it started trying to lift the cage door with its beak.

    He managed to get out in another manner eventualy. I guess he got pretty bored without a friend.

    Shit no! He did JUST what you would have done. Caged for all those years, uncertain of his fate, now his only companion mysteriously dead. Poor fucker just figured he was next.

    "I will gladly pay you today, sir, and eat up

  • Maybe I'm a complete idiot here, but I have absolutely no clue what the hell em>intellectually dishonest means. Sounds like an empty catch-phrase from some political pundit.

    Maybe you mean I'm lying, smartly?

    And no, I completely concede that researchers have not proven that parrots do more than immitate. I'm all for it though. I'm not rooting for parrots to be proven complete morons, but I want to know that they're intelligent without a doubt. Unfortunately, I see nothing to reasonably do this. I firmly believe it will take much more than a few parlor tricks or circus side-show parrot-gimmicks to define the intelligence level of these animals.

    I do not think that surfing the web will accomplish any of this. (Now, if some Polly out there finds a way to universally free the world from spam, I will completely concede and consider them to not only be intellectually proven, but smarter than most humans!)
    ---
    seumas.com

  • Proportionally speaking that is, their skull is fair percentage of the width/size of their body.

    Unlike a turkey, who has a big body, and a tiny head, and is stupid.
  • If you trained a parrot to post news to /., would it have better spelling/grammar than CmdrTaco?
  • Follow the links, I was only joking about other news about genetic experiments done to rats. Obviously the bird in question here is probably far more intelligent than any rat.
  • "Are you a man or a mouse?"
  • by Macaw2000 ( 103146 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @02:00PM (#952964)
    A while back I had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Irene Pepperberg, an animal behavior scientist, talk about Alex the parrot and some of her other African Grey parrots.

    Dr. Pepperberg would hold out a tray of various objects and ask Alex how many red squares or ask him what a key was made out of ... "4 red squares"... "metel key" ... Alex sounded out. It was really quite amazing. He understood concepts like same and different as well.

    What I found amusing was that Alex performed all of the intelligence tests normally given to chimpanzees, small children, smart dogs, elephants, and dolphins. Of course Alex passed these tests with flying colors showing a theoretically greater intelligence. This was very conflicting to the animal behaviorists because they had always relied on two givens:

    1. Small animals with small brains will have less intelligence.
    2. Animals closer to humans in the evolutionary tree will have higher intelligence (aka chimps)
    So here we have Alex who can easily be compared to a 5-year-old child but is stuck in a tiny body of beak and feathers. Poor Dr. Pepperberg was ostracized by the rest of the scientists because her well published findings didn't gel with the prevailing theories.

    Now African Grey's are getting more attention and a whole new monkey wrench has been thrown in the mix. That monkey wrench being quaker parrots. These pint-sized peckers are less than 1/3rd the size of an African Grey and have much of the same intelligence. These resiliant little guys are the only parrot banned in 15 states because the ag boards feel they might get out and eat the crops. In fact the Argentine government recently killed 450,000 of them fearing their numbers were too great. Consider the political ramifications of killing that many chimps or elephants or dolphins? Remember these little green birds are more intelligent. Interesting, eh?

    Ok so if you want to read more about Dr. Pepperberg you can visit here: http://www.cages.org/research/p epperberg/index.html [cages.org] or you can catch her on the discovery channel every once in a while with Alex.

  • You look a 4 year old in the face and ask him whats four plus five. He/she will just look at you strange.. Teach that child well enough though and give him four blocks then later give him five blocks and ask him how many there were total. And you might get and answer.
  • Are parrots tricromats like us? That is, is their vision based on the same three wavelength-sensitive visual receptors (red, green, blue) that we are?

    The reason I ask is that PC monitors are designed to present to us not the actual color mixtures of light reflected by objects, but a combination of these three hues adjusted in intensity to create the same response in our eyes as the actual object would, so it "looks" the same to us. But would it look the same to a parrot?

    If their vision is based on a different system, say one, two, or four different light sensitive receptors, then what is displayed on a monitor would look nothing like it would to them in real life.

    This same issue comes to mind in many sci-fi novels that depict alien life as being able to read human signs, interact with human control panels and indicators, etc., when chances are if we ever do encounter ET it may not even be able to "see" in wavelengths that our atmosphere is transparent to...but I digress :)

  • Visit http://www.xpurple.com/ouch.jpg for your parrot porn pleasures.
  • This is old school thinking. Dr. Pepperberg isn't some circus freak show. She's a respectable scientist and made every effort to conduct a an accurate test. ... her grad students did much of the testing. I would really recommend reading some of the studies here [cages.org] to see this what parrot research is really about.
  • I believe that SHOULD say, "Phenominal Cosmic Power, itty bity living space."

    Although right now I cannot remember if it's "itty bity" or "teeny weenie..." actually.

    Fawking Trolls! [slashdot.org]
  • Please let me get to metamoderate this guy...

    Not that the post isn't funny, but either the moderator was trying to be a wiseass or he actually agreed...

  • I cannot remember were I exactly heard this but I believe that the most intellegent bird is not the African Grey but the raven. I wish I could remember where I saw this.

    the Argentine government recently killed 450,000 of [quaker parrots] fearing their numbers were too great...

    I know one intellegent species, relatively, whos numbers are too great and could probably use some weeding out. Of course the political ramifications would be too large.
  • by griffjon ( 14945 ) <GriffJon@NoSPAm.gmail.com> on Thursday July 06, 2000 @01:15PM (#952973) Homepage Journal
    OK. I PROMISE that I can find a more beneficial project for mankind, can I get the grant money for this project? No, I don't know what my own goal will be, but c'mon--gimme some credit. I can beat out web browsing parrots.
  • Now do you know why that particular troll comes?

    Because of people like you who give that particular troll attention.

    Oh well, I always browse at -1 so that I can judge whatever the /. crew does not quietly blink into oblivian for myself :)

    Jeremy

  • actually in some ways parrots are better subjects for animal intelligence studies. first, they reach maturity faster than primates. second, because they can learn words you don't need to teach them sign language.


    this january discover magazine had a really fascinating article about alex, a 23-year old african grey. if what its researcher/owner says is true, it demonstrates (or at least is able to express) intelligence greater than any primate i've read about.

  • i assume they will test with Petscape too?
  • I can't believe nobody's posted the OB: Monty Python joke yet.
  • Not that this story really deserves a serious, even semi-serious reply, but...

    Researchers have often "determined" whether a drug is chemically addictive by testing whether e.g. a rat will self-administer the drug. Hook the beast up to an IV, demonstrate to it that pushing a lever will give it a drop of smack, and watch. Rats will self-administer opiates and quickly become massively addicted. Caffeine, nicotine, cocaine; the usual suspects. Rats don't seem to like alcohol, THC (pot), or LSD.

    So, in light of recent worries about web addiction, will a parrot self-administer the web?

    Woah, check out my keywords...Echelon's gonna love this post.

  • Cmon man. Dr. Pepperberg is funded. People alot smarter than you read through her proposals and gave her money to do this work- a long time ago. She has since justified that investment by demonstrating parrots score on par with chimps, dolphins and five year old kids on iq tests. They measure a quotient- not intelligence or comprehension.

    If you get hit by a car and experience severe brain trauma, rendering you less intelligent; therapists may use her techniques to train you how to piss in a hole.

    You give humans way too much credit, and you also have a very narrow idea of intelligence- which to date has not nearly been properly defined.

    Speaking with animals helps us understand language, cognition, perhaps intelligence; but also gives us clues about our own evolution.

    It is unreasonable to expect that earth would only produce one sentient species. We need to know more about this so we can be responsible as earth's ambassadors.

    -Sleen
  • How about something really useful. Like training a parrot to peck out the code to DeCSS. What would the MPAA do about that? :-)
  • by jamiemccarthy ( 4847 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @03:59PM (#952981) Homepage Journal
    "...Parrots are doing no more than repeating what they've learned to do via positive re-inforcement. It doesn't take too many tries to find out that if you are told 'blue metal' and you pick up the metal key (being that the only item on the table that is blue is also the only item that is metal) -- you get a treat. This seems like nothing more than conditioning to me."

    Not so. http://www.mecca.org/~rporter/PA RROTS/grey_al.html [mecca.org]:

    "The sets of objects need not be familiar, nor need they be placed in any particular pattern, such as a square or triangle. Furthermore, if presented with a heterogeneous collection -- of X's and Y's -- he can respond appropriately to questions of either 'How many X?' or 'How many Y?' (62.5%, all trials; 70.0%, first trials).27 Our work with heterogeneous collections has suggested even more advanced skills. Alex can be shown a 'confounded number set' (collections of four groups of items that vary in two colors and two object categories -- e.g., blue and red keys and cars) and be asked to label the number of items uniquely defined by the combination of one color and one object category (e.g., 'How many blue key?').39 His accuracy (83.3%) replicates that of humans in a comparable study performed by Trick and Pylyshyn.38 Although we cannot claim that the mechanisms that Alex uses are identical to those of humans, the data suggest that a non-human, nonprimate, nonmammalian subject has a level of competence that, in a chimpanzee, would be taken to indicate a human level of intelligence.2,27"

    2. Pepperberg, I.M.: An investigation into the cognitive capacities of an African Grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus). In Advances in the Study of Behavior. Edited by P.J.B. Slater, J.R. Rosenblatt, and C. Beer. New York, Academic Press, 1990.

    27. Pepperberg, I.M.: Evidence for conceptual quantitative abilities in the African Grey parrot: Labeling of cardinal sets. Ethology 75:37-61, 1987.

    38. Trick, L., & Pylyshyn, Z. Subitizing and the FNST spatial index model. University of Ontario, COGMEM#44 (Based on a paper presented at the 30th Psychonomic Society Mtg, Atlanta, GA, November, 1989).

    39. Pepperberg, I.M. Numerical competence in an African Grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus). J. Comp. Psych., 108:36-44, 1994.

    Irene Pepperberg's work has been published not just in popular press like Scientific American [sciam.com] but in peer-reviewed journals [cages.org] such as those in the footnotes above, so I have to assume it has met their standards for scientific work. She and her team have clearly addressed the concerns you raise, and others besides.

    Jamie McCarthy

  • <STINK>Been done. [slashdot.org]</STINK>
  • I am not impressed that people a lot smarter than me have deemed building a web-browser for a parrot as a meaningful and reasonable cause worth funding.

    Perhaps the good doctor in this study (up until her browser stuff) has produced interesting studies with potential, but there are many others before here and beside her that have not worked with such a supposed level of esteem and responsibility before presenting people with the idea of what they propose they are displaying is intelligence.
    ---
    seumas.com

  • A lot of money is spent on research labs for chimps and studying origins and animal behaviors. Parrots can offer some insight into these fields. What annoys me is that some animal behavior shithole programs [cwu.edu] get a ton of money and they are far less interested in science than they are political agendas.

    So a few bucks were spent on some parrot research? Look at the kind of money spent at this shithole [cwu.edu].

  • I'm glad to know that while there are children in the country starving and women being beaten and raped and people dying of a million diseases, someone is funding the development of a web-browser for a freaking bird.

    And while children are starving and women are being beaten and raped, you're sitting here posting to Slashdot? Go help them, for God's sake!

  • If it would keep him from screaming when unattended, I'd make 'em set it up. Hopefully, it AppleTalks...
    _____
  • Yes, but we've also seen this issue similarly raised in the education of children. Do our schools (in America, at least) offer an extension and excersize of the ability of the individual to comprehend and understand or do we, on the whole, teach them to simply memorize information?

    I certainly don't mean to relegate this concern to a rat with feathers -- the asssertion of intelligence versus recognition/patterned behavior is more or less across the board.
    ---
    seumas.com

  • That's crackers nimrod. Parrots like crackers.

    Does that means it's going to be a totally insecure browser?

    ---
    guillaume

  • Oh my god, that was funny. That wraps a great deal of my concern into a nice little package. I doubt that such skepticism covers all corners of the study of animal intelligence, but there are enough that I'm not certain it is unjustified.

    On the other hand, such a horse probably qualifies as intelligent by virtue of the ability to manipulate the stupid human into giving him a carrot.
    ---
    seumas.com

  • by carlos_benj ( 140796 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @02:13PM (#952990) Journal
    this january discover magazine had a really fascinating article about alex, a 23-year old african grey. if what its researcher/owner says is true, it demonstrates (or at least is able to express) intelligence greater than any primate i've read about.

    Here [newscientist.com] is a link to an article about Alex from the current article referenced in this story. http://www.newscientist.com/opinion/opinion.jsp?id =ns222113

  • I understand that we've taught chimpanzees and gorillas sign language so they can communicate, but I have to wonder....

    WHY DO PARROTS NEED THE INTERNET!

    Ahem, sorry. I find things like this to be a little more than stupid.

    - chris
    - chris@unbeliever.netspam
    - i hate capitals
    - aim:arikel6000 / yahoo:blackrose91

  • Re-read my post and you will see that I don't disagree with you. The African Grey, right now, is the king of animal intelligence. The raven is smart but the way they think is so alien, it's hard to measure. The quaker is just now being studied.
  • This does explain all that aol.com traffic.

    It also explains all the first-posters.
  • Yesterday it was "If it's not viewable under Linux I won't post it". Today we get powerpoint files.

    Since we are being so darn constant, can we implemnt slashdotted website caching contrary to the FAQ? If google can do it...

    -- Greg

  • What sort of protocol would a frog use? Kermit?
  • How do we construct a web filter that keeps Polly from being traumatized by Monty Python sites [byus.com], while retaining access to all of the parrot-friendly content on the Internet?
  • Please stop exploiting animals in the name of "science"! Surely there are other ways to develop web browsing tools without all this barbaric vivisection! Have you people no empathy for our furred and feathered friends?
  • Alex is an amazing bird. He can recognize banannas and cherries and when he want's an apple he says "bananna-erry" (apples are like a bananna on the inside and a cherry on the outside). Thus demonstrating enough intelligence to overcome his limited vocabulary. African Greys have about a 500 word vocabulary limit.
  • by Wah ( 30840 )
    it's no longer CmdrTaco.

    It's now.....CmdrCrkr.

    --
    CmdrCrkr: Hemos want a cracker?

    Hemo: bwachaack!!
    --
  • what could their possibly be of interest to something that is fascinated by its own image in the mirror.

    Um... being fascinated by it's own image on a webcam?

    \//
  • So they can have easy access to loads of parrot pr0n, of course.
  • Of the news that AOL was opening its intranet to the Internet at large. 'splains a lot, doesn't it? SQUAK! AOLly wants a cracker!
  • by djKing ( 1970 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @01:17PM (#953003) Homepage Journal
    I'm wondering how much karma the parot would colect on slashdot.

    "Linux is faster than NT"
    "Java should be GPLed"
    "Music should be free"
    "John Katz sucks"
    "Pouring Hot Grits"

    I'm sure we could teach it these simple lines. It would fit right in with the rest of us.

    -Peace
    Dave
  • http://www.newscientist.com/features/features_2246 21.html
  • by pingflood ( 105369 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @01:18PM (#953005)
    How on Earth are we going to get the parrots to *not* accept cookies? :-) Man, DoubleClick must love these guys.

    -pf

  • I guess the AOL helpdesk guys decided they wanted to answer intelligent questions.

  • What if you came home to find your parrot had loaded up a webpage that looked like a parrot (you know the kind. All colorful and unorganized) and was trying to mate with it. What then?
  • The real test would be if the parrot could take a piece of learned information (blue truck), and apply said knowledge to other objects. If the parrot learns what a blue metal truck is, can he then apply that knowledge to recognize that a red truck is still a truck? Can he tell the differnce between a blue truck and a blue car?

    Conditioning is no big trick in the animal world: almost all mammels are capable of it. Cows will come running when a rancher honks his horn, thinking they'll get food. Dogs eventually learn to recognize their name when spoken by humans. This is also how human children begin the learning process. It't the ability to to logically tie all the information together that seperates humans from most animals.

    Anyone know: Is the parrot capable of this kind of behavior?
  • I hate to be the big skeptic here, but a lot of data I've seen on these "brainy parrots" (there have even been similar main-stream reports confirmation this assertion) suggest that Parrots are doing no more than repeating what they've learned to do via positive re-inforcement.

    It doesn't take too many tries to find out that if you are told "blue metal" and you pick up the metal key (being that the only item on the table that is blue is also the only item that is metal) -- you get a treat. This seems like nothing more than conditioning to me.

    And the researches I've seen raving about these "brilliant birds" are as looney as anyone -- talk about your biased research. The phrase "I want to believe" seems to be perfectly fitting for them.
    ---
    seumas.com

  • if this parrot is anything like my Cockatiel (which masterbates on its swing all day) Parrot porn is going to out number regular porn 10:1. stay tooned for pictures of my masterbating cockatiel, perhaps videos as well.
  • That was popular thought back in the 60's...

    Tell me, how does a parrot count items that it has never seen before? How does it recognize if two items are same or different. I'd love to hear how you would condition a parrot to do this.

  • It seems to be the ONLY really serious comment around.
  • The problem is that the parrots would be indistiguishable from the trolls and JonKatz. "Brrawwwwk First Post..." "*squawk* THe world will soon bow down to Open Voiceboxes, so that all organisms may have speech *squaaawk*"
  • Read the article next time....her research does not involve vivisection.
  • Nobody is funding me for this! Although receiving a grant for Slashdot would be... *sigh*... pretty damn sweet.
    ---
    seumas.com
  • That's why I kept getting echoed message when I was chatting the other day.
  • Mod up. This is not flamebait, but rather funny as hell, and also the "not news that matters" post which this story so richly deserves.
  • There's a great deal of animal research going on right now on the Internet. For example, RFC-2795 [rf.cx] is well worth reading.
  • How do you teach a dog to bark "I love you" or a horse to click his stomp his hoofs to 'count' the occurance of something? Our perception of something intelligent doesn't necessarily denote it as intelligent. For christ's sake, humans routinely have a life-like attachment to stuffed animals and name our computers and our boats and our cars as if they were people. We see things that aren't exactly there.

    I'm not suggesting parrots are stupid. Far from it. But if you expect me to think a parrot is going to gain anything from some contraption that allows him to browse Slashdot and the ArtBell website, you must think I'm nuts.

    I'm glad to know that while there are children in the country starving and women being beaten and raped and people dying of a million diseases, someone is funding the development of a web-browser for a freaking bird.

    --BEGIN UNNECESSARY SARCASM--
    If parrots are so smart, how come there are over a million of them trapped in cages in America? Hmmm? Answer that?! What, now they're going to read the screen-play from 'The Great Escape' and plan a massive rebellion and freedom revolution?
    --END SARCASM--
    ---
    seumas.com

  • Thats IT!

    I know what I'm doing with my moderator points from now on.

    Smarten it up folks, we have a reputation to maintain...

    -Sleen
  • by wishus ( 174405 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @01:20PM (#953021) Journal
    Of all the technological advances of the past century (autos, television, the personal computer, etc.) why are we just now realizing that we've been leaving the animals out?

    Did it take something as big as the internet to wake us up? Get our head out of the clouds? Stop inventing things without regard for anything else, and take a look at our animal bretheren?

    I think this MIT guy has it right! It's time to bring the animals with us into the new millenium! No longer will we leave them behind in primitive isolation!

    And since the internet is such a great wealth of knowledge, if we can get animals internet access, then they can learn about everything from driving a car to watching tv to making their own homepage!

    Just think if your neighbor's cat could surf the 'net all night long! No more midnight screeching! And what if those pesky squirrels could check their e-mail without too much hassle? They'd be more likely to leave your bird feeder alone!

    My one problem with this guy is that I think he should have started with mammals.. i think the interface would be easier, since we are mammals too.
    ---
  • <PYTHON>

    Narrator: Good evening. Here is the News for parrots. No parrots were involved in an accident on the M1 today, when a lorry carrying high octane fuel was in collision with a hollard ... that is a bollard and not a parrot. A spokesman for parrots said he was glad no parrots were involved. The Minister of Technology (photo of minister with parrot on his shoulder) today met the three Russian leaders (cut to photograph of Brahnev, Podgomy and Kosygin all in a group and each with a parrot on his shoulder) to discuss a £4 million airliner deal ... (cut back to narrator) None of them went in the cage, or swung on the little wooden trapeze, or ate any of the nice millet seed yam, yam. Thats the end of the news. Now our programmes for parrots continue with part three of 'A Tale of Two Cities' specially adapted for parrots by Joey Boy. The story so far ... Dr Manette is in England after eighteen years (as he speaks French Revolution type music creeps in under his words) in the Baslille. (cut through to a Cruikshank engraving of London). His daughter Lucy awaits her lover Charles Damay, whom we have just learnt is in fact the nephew of the Marquis de St Evremond, whose cruelty had placed Manette in the Bastille. Darnay arrives to find Lucy tending her aged father...

    (Superimposed caption: 'LONDON 1793' Music reaches a climax and we mix slowly through to an eighteenth-century living room. Lucy is nursing her father. Some low music continues over. Suddenly the door bursts open and Charles Darnay enters.)

    Darnay: (in parrot voice) 'Allo, 'allo.

    Lucy: 'Allo, 'allo, 'allo.

    Old Man: 'Allo, 'allo, 'allo.

    Darnay: Who's a pretty boy, then?

    Lucy: 'Allo, 'allo, 'allo.

    (And more of the same. Cut back to the narrator.)

    Narrator: And while that's going on, here is the news for gibbons. No gibbons were involved today in an accident on the M 1 ...

    (The narrator's voice fades.)


    </PYTHON>

  • Or rather, and more to the point, people are animals, too!
  • But the entire idea of web-browsing parrots is a joke. What kind of serious discussion did you expect to find here?!

    --
  • by Alik ( 81811 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @06:29PM (#953027)
    Two thoughts:

    1) Introspect on your own knowledge of words. Most people have a sense that there's a bit more than just an association between a sound sequence and a set of physical objects --- there's a sense of understanding that this is not just any set of tones, this is a word, and it is attached to an abstract concept. How on earth will you teach a parrot what love is? What hate is? The definition of "taste"? This is the difference between a human and a parrot: you can teach a human new words using only other words. To teach a parrot new words, you must present physical objects (if you want the words associated with things).

    2) Ability to use single words or memorized phrases is not language, and ability to see a word on a page and say that word is not the complete definition of reading. Language has syntax. No animal to date has ever demonstrated the ability to learn or use syntactic constructions. From your description, your sister was not using syntax yet. (Look at it another way: if I taught you five Chinese phrases without giving you meanings, but you knew that certain phrases would get Chinese people to give you food if you said them at the right time of day, would you claim to speak Chinese? (Of course, that raises the question of just how many of these phrases you'd need to know before you did actually have a functional understanding of Chinese. Read about the "Chinese Room Argument" if you care.))
  • Squawk! Yes, this is Polly and I'd like to place an order for 10 tons of crackers!
    ---
    seumas.com
  • Indeed.

    Grep is the coolest bird in the world. I like to check up on him when at work throughout the day. I've known this bird as long as they've had him, and he never ceases to amaze me.

    He's a lot of fun in person too.
  • From this article:
    But does he know what the words mean? Hasn't he just learned to associate particular sounds with particular objects or places?

    I hate this. What are words but sounds that we've associated with things? My mother taught me and my twin brother to read at age 2. My kid sister could read simple words at 7 months. We'd have guests over, and they'd look at my not-yet-walking sister reading (I was about 6 years old), and say it was cute, or funny, but many people refused to acknowledge that she was reading. "Oh, she's just associated the shapes of the letters on the flashcards with nouns and verbs," they'd say. "She's not actually reading."

    If that's not reading, and if Alex doesn't know what those words mean, then I must have a fundamental misunderstanding of language. Which is quite possible.

    -Waldo
  • Of course after they get bored with browsing, you know what comes next...

    "Awk! Polly wanna be a Cracker!"
  • by bughunter ( 10093 ) <bughunter@@@earthlink...net> on Thursday July 06, 2000 @01:26PM (#953042) Journal
    My parrot already uses the internet. He gets along quite well with Mozilla on a PII linux box, although I do have to set up the button bar, and configure the network drivers.

    Problem is, he's figured out how to access the root account, and even though he's disabled all the unused ports, changed all the default passwords, and installed the latest security patches...

    I can't get him to perform regular backups!

  • by PD ( 9577 )
    By Linus, I thought you were going to post the penis bird! Doctor Fun is much better - +1 funny.
  • Only the parrot doesn't stomp its feet. It says "four". Not much room for reading reactions there.
  • by MustardMan ( 52102 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @03:04PM (#953051)
    Ah, yes the Norwegian Blue... whats, uh, whats wrong with it.

    I'll tell you whats wrong with it my lad... it's dead, thats whats wrong with it!

    Its not dead, its pining for Yahoo

    Look my lad, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I'm lookin at one right now

    He's not dead, he's waiting for AOL to dialup

    allright then, I'll let him use my cable modem

    look! he surfed!

    he didn't surf, that was you banging the keyboard

    I didnt!

    Look my lad, this parrot is definitely deceased, and when I pinged it not half an hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of response was due to it being tired and lagged out after a long fragfest

    31337 bird, the norwegian blue, beautiful rootkits!

    the root kits don't factor into it my lad, it's stone dead
    this parrot is no more
    it has ceased to IRC
    it's expired and gone to meet its Admin
    bereft of pr0n it rests in peace
    if you hadnt signed it on napster it would be freeing up a modem.
    this, is an EX SURFER.


    sorry, it had to be done

  • First web-browsing, then ... what? I can just see it "No, no, it wasn't me breaking into that website ... It was my web-browsing parrot going to the wrong type of "cracker" site"

    SQWAKK ... Polly wanna cracker ... Polly wanna be l33t

  • They don't need tons of memory or anything. They can write graffiti using their beak. I'm not a bird expert, so I'm not sure whether a color screen would even be beneficial to them. All parrots need is a Palm Pilot. Of course, they could also get some voice recognition too. Why do people always insist on reinventing the wheel whenever a new species decides to go on the internet.

    And now we'll have to look forward to all those messages (ICQ, e-mail, etc) "helo, my name is polly and im a parrot. lets be penpals. write back to me. also, want to play diablo 2? i will kick your ass". Those are going to start getting annoying.

    Napsters going to be flooded now with bird songs.

    Damn dirty birds!
  • Scientific control of making a mouse-potatoe out of a parrot? Dude, you have got to be kidding me.

    This is no more science than strapping moonshoes to your dogs paws and saying that you are scientifically experimenting with the posibilities of piloting a mission to Mars.

    Those dunderheads who spend their careers (and tax money) teaching primates to 'speak' and 'communicate' through a massive specially developed lexicon expect us to fall for the same thing. They're so attached to their work and so biased -- and we never see it. We just think "aw, how cute! It's like people! It must be smart!".

    How's this for 'scientific control'. Remove all prompting and all cues. Face the parrot and say " what is four plus five'. If the parrot can answer something like that without physical prompts of blocks or keys or balls, then maybe we have something. Even then, how do we know that the trainer and researcher haven't just unknowingly taught the parrot that the answer to 'four and five' is nine, without actual comprehension?

    And this is my problem with this whole thing. To claim that they're intelligent without reasonably establishing that there is a level of comprehension as opposed to learned rote response.
    ---
    seumas.com

  • It doesn't take too many tries to find out that if you are told "blue metal" and you pick up the metal key (being that the only item on the table that is blue is also the only item that is metal) -- you get a treat. This seems like nothing more than conditioning to me.
    And you would distinguish this kind of conditioning from some sort of higher 'learning' how, exactly?

    &nbsp

  • It certainly does. Unfortunately, if you look at the actual published papers of primate sign language use, the real picture becomes a bit more clear. Once again, these animals don't show syntactic constructions --- they chain symbols together, so that if Koko wants a banana, you may get any of "give Koko banana", "banana give Koko", or "give banana Koko". Which one gets used most is basically going to depend on how promptly each is rewarded with a banana. (This is also why I'd expect to see less of "Koko give banana", because a human is not going to parse this as a request for a banana quite as easily.) Also notice that all her replies are interpreted for semantic content by a human who has begun with the expectation that Koko has a complete command of English/ASL. There's some mighty big bias there. (Of course, I'm biased to say that this is not true language.)

    I personally consider a site with a vested interest in proving that Koko is intelligent/sentient/a "person"/whatever to be an unreliable source. The stuff about her demonstrating productive combination is interesting, but I also kind of wonder how many times she didn't do this when presented with a new object. (That's the general problem here --- a few instances of a behavior that could be interpreted in a certain way are being heavily generalized, and I would say they're being overgeneralized.)

    Now, the mirror behavior... that I'm not sure about. There's a raging debate about this in the cognitive psych community, but nobody has a good definition of self-awareness, so we can't prove things one way or another (yet).

    Koko can certainly communicate in a reasonably rich fashion with those not of her own species, which is itself impressive, but I'm not seeing language or a definite self-awareness here. IMHO, the best proof of true primate sentience would be a gorilla indicating to its keepers that it wanted to write an essay proving it was sentient, and then following through on that desire. I want to see multiple isolated gorillas sign "I think, therefore I am."

    To put things in more Slashdottish terms, Koko doesn't pass the Turing test. :-) (Actually, that's another thing about language . Words aren't the basic unit of language; phonemes are. I've never heard of an animal which was able to master the concept of a keyboard.)

  • Mathematically, what is counting?

    Counting is classifying sets into meta sets by the number of elements in them.

    Human brains, and very likely most higher animal brains, have a primitive (in the comp sci sense of low level) operation to do this called "subitizing" - the ability to visually distinguish sets with small numbers of items. Combined with the ability to compare overall sizes of larger sets, this is a very useful for a foraging animal -- this tree has more fruit than that, this branch has four fruit and that three.

    Counting in a conventional sense is to put a series of subsets in correspondence to an algorithmically defined sequence of words which represent the counting numbers. In other words, humans have come up with algorithms to use their verbal and logical skills to extend the ability to count beyond subitizing.

    Almost any fairly intelligent animal should be trained to "name" numbers up to five or six. Some may well be trainable to execute an routine that allows them to "count" up through a memorized sequence of number names. The ability to create a completely open ended counting scheme, including the algorithm to generate and compare number names (you didn't memorize that 212345 comes after 212344 after all) -- that is what is really intelligent.

    As far as comparing human children to animals on intelligence -- of course animals are going to perform better on many tests because they are more physiologically and psychologically mature. Very young human babies, for example, can't track objects with their eyes or focus. Furthermore, with older kids, long term cognitive reogranization often leads to short term losses of performance. You often see children drop the use of correct grammatical forms in favor of "incorrect" forms, as their grammatical algorithms are becoming more complex. Operationally defined, they become "less intelligent". As any parent knows, the real mystery is what is going on inside their little skulls.

  • Comprehension as opposed to repetition.

    Let me use a primate as an example. There is a great difference between figuring out that you can reach an apple stuck inside of a long tube by taking a branch from a tree, breaking it and then reaching it into the tube to stab the fruit and pull out the reward and pointing to a blue key when asked, because all the time away from the camera, you'd been told 'no' hundreds of times when you chose anything other than that blue key.

    Granted, there is perhaps usually a fine line between walking and talking like a duck and actually being a duck. If we understood the concept of learning and how the brain (not just ours, but that would be a start) worked, we would probably have a larger conensus of whether or not specific animals are displaying true intellect.
    ---
    seumas.com

  • As primates age, they tend to get more agressive. Parrots may bite, but they don't generally break bones.

    Han: Let him have it. It's not wise to upset a wookie.
    C-3PO: But sir. Nobody worries about upsetting a droid.
    Han: That's cause a droid don't pull people's arms out of their sockets when they lose. Wookies are known to do that.
    C-3PO: I see your point, sir. I suggest a new strategy, R2. Let the Wookie win.

    It all starts to make sense now.

  • Actually Alex has been working on basic math but he's only 50% reliable so Dr. Pepperberg hasn't published her findings yet... You are being intellectually dishonest by not conceeding that maybe parrots do more than immitate.
  • With all the AOL users out there, creating the technology to allow parrots to use the Internet will raise the average IQ of the Internet community.

    --
  • yeah!! i can see it now!! www.nofeathers.com or www.bare-beak.com heh
    oh my, i'm lame :P
    -motardo
  • Q: What does a parrot do when he forgets his password?

    A: Shouts Polly wants a cracker!

  • Koko can certainly communicate in a reasonably rich fashion with those not of her own species, which is itself impressive, but I'm not seeing language or a definite self-awareness here.

    But isn't the purpose of language, when boiled down to simplest terms, to communicate? If Koko wants a banana and is able to communicate that through sign language (as opposed to the toddler's point and grunt technique) isn't she communicating? As far as self awareness, I thought some primates had been able to make the connection that the reflection in a mirror was their own image and not that of another.

    IMHO, the best proof of true primate sentience would be a gorilla indicating to its keepers that it wanted to write an essay proving it was sentient, and then following through on that desire.

    Even better, the gorilla signs, "Why do you have me locked up in this stinking lab? I've been watching PBS and now know that I belong in the jungle and wish to be reunited with my own kind. Or a nice car and a condo would be acceptable."

  • But isn't the purpose of language, when boiled down to simplest terms, to communicate? If Koko wants a banana and is able to communicate that through sign language (as opposed to the toddler's point and grunt technique) isn't she communicating?

    Communication != language, though. When your organs send hormones into the blood to signal other organs to do something, that's communication. When these packets fly across the fibers, that's communication. When a dog expresses displeasure by biting you, that's communication. However, none of these are language. Language, as I've repeatedly said, must contain not only words but also syntax. (Some people also add conditions about semantic understanding, but I'm not going there. Suffice to say that syntax is necessary but may not be sufficient. Similarly, language is probably a necessary condition of intelligence, but may not be sufficient.)

    Practically speaking, what's the difference between the use of sign language and point-and-grunt behavior, assuming one can produce different kinds of grunts? IMHO, they're about equally expressive. (Maybe add pantomimed actions to the grunting as well.)

    As far as self awareness, I thought some primates had been able to make the connection that the reflection in a mirror was their own image and not that of another.

    Some studies have been published that claim this. Many have raised objections. At least some of the objectors are closed-minded. At least some of the studies were done by biased observers. Some studies have been done that refute the originals. Some studies have been done that refute the refutations. Lots of angry letters to the editor have been written. I did say it was a subject of great debate. I personally fall on the non-self-aware side of things; my belief is that if there were self-aware animals, they would have done something to get humans to stop killing them. (Note that Koko's keepers also claim she has a human-level IQ, which means that gorillas should be quite capable of organizing to stop gorilla hunters if they're actually sentient. (I personally don't think an IQ score is necessarily significant proof; I'd like to know just how they modified the tests so that the gorillas could take them.))
  • by styopa ( 58097 ) <hillsr&colorado,edu> on Thursday July 06, 2000 @01:11PM (#953099) Homepage
    The last thing I need to have to deal with is coming home from the lab only to find the parrot, that I plan on buying, has downloaded 1 gig worth of parrot porn.

    Or that he's ordered a mail order parrot from Africa with my credit card.
  • Practically speaking, what's the difference between the use of sign language and point-and-grunt behavior, assuming one can produce different kinds of grunts? IMHO, they're about equally expressive. (Maybe add pantomimed actions to the grunting as well.)

    Hmm. I'm following you, but there are implications. From what I know of ASL, it is composed of signs for nouns and verbs, everything else can be spelled out using the sign language alphabet (don't recall the proper name for it). In practical communication, most ASL usage I've seen is nothing but a string of nouns and verbs not much different than your 'give banana Koko' example. I'm sure any ASL users can confirm (or deny) this. I'm equally sure that many of them would be miffed to find that someone didn't consider ASL a bona fide language (althought that assertion has surfaced before).

    Another aspect to consider is the human mind's ability to fill in missing information; in this case, adding the necessary syntax to make the ASL communication a complete sentence. I would think this ability would be difficult to test without the subject's ability to communicate in a way that allows for proper syntax -- either spelling out the missing words or written communication perhaps.

  • by Skald ( 140034 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @01:52PM (#953109)
    It's about the development of web browsers for animals, in this case a 17-month-old african grey parrot. Here is the researcher's site." This does explain all that aol.com traffic.

    I'm sorry, I find this totally offensive.

    To parrots.

  • by TheDullBlade ( 28998 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @03:28PM (#953111)
    How does a parrot count items?

    If he's anything like a good counting horse, he starts "counting" and reads the humans' reactions around him. If the animal pauses often, or moves a bit toward one thing, then another, in turn, instead of going directly to the correct choice, this is probably what's happening.

    "How many fingers am I holding up?"

    (hmm, he asked me something, I know that tone of voice, I COULD GET A CARROT OUT OF THIS!)
    clop,
    clop,
    clop,
    pause,
    (he tensed up, I can't stop yet...)
    clop,
    pause
    (he just relaxed! if I stop now, he'll give me the carrot!)
    stop.

    "That's a good horse, here's your carrot!"
  • I was just thinking -- has anyone performed any manner of scan on a parrot's brain when it is being asked various questions? We can map out what part of the brain in humans is stimulated and active in response to various stimuli. We know what areas of the brain are mostly active during certain cognitive functions. Perhaps we could do the same with the parrots. I'm not sure if this has been done or not, but I found nothing on a search of it.
    ---
    seumas.com
  • > So they can have easy access to loads of parrot pr0n, of course.

    I presume the LCD screen comes from Viewsonic [viewsonic.com], and come with the requisite screen savers showing three parrots, each naked as a jaybird, in various tropical settings?

  • Unlike a turkey, who has a big body, and a tiny head, and is stupid.

    Actually, only domestic turkeys are stupid. Wild turkeys are a different matter.

  • by Shoeboy ( 16224 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @01:13PM (#953122) Homepage
    I worked on this project, so I can give you the real scoop. The web browser is simply proof of concept, what we were really going for was an IDE that could be used by most vertebrates.

    It's simple really, a sufficient number of monkeys given sufficient time can produce working code. The problem is that between MS and AOL, we don't have anything close to a sufficient number of monkeys. A properly trained monkey can demand upwards of $80,000/yr in silicon valley. Traditionally monkey dominated industries like USWest customer service can't even afford them and have resorted to magic 8 balls.

    By outsourcing development to non-primate species, we'll end the current labor crunch in IT.

    This is truly revolutionary news.

    --Shoeboy
  • Polly want a packet?

    \//

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