The authors of Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
(a brilliant, though somewhat repetitive book about how empirical measurement and statistical analysis suggest that many of the causal relationships in our society aren't what they seem) report on an economic experiment to teach monkeys to use money. Faced with financial realities, the monkeys act pretty much like people:
A capuchin monkey must decide how to spend his budget of twelve coins (located on the yellow and white striped tray in the front of the trading room.) Two human research assistants are present (one wearing blue and one wearing red), and both hold a piece of food in an orange dish for the monkey to see. The red research assistant "sells" grapes and the blue research assistant "sells" Jell-o cubes, with each piece of food costing a coin from the monkey's budget.
The capuchin must make a decision analogous to a grocery-store shopper's: how much of their budget to spend of grapes and how much to spend on Jell-o...
Two unrelated tamarin monkeys sit adjoining each other. Every fifteen seconds, a human research assistant brings a tray loaded with a marshmallow that is just out of reach of one of the monkeys. The only way that monkey can eat the treat is if his partner pulls a red handle that will put the marshmallow within reach.
But pulling the handle doesn't bring any reward for the puller: pulling the handle only pays if the monkey who receives the marshmallow reciprocates by pulling in the future. Like many human situations, the monkeys must work together to obtain food and build trust while punishing failures to cooperate.
It’s the end of an era, sort of: Fraunhofer IIS, the developers of the MP3 audio compression format, announced that they are ceasing their licensing program. In a blog post, spokesman Matthias Rose says that it’s had a good 20-year run and is obsolete. But it’s also true that the decoding patents expired last year, […]
Freddy deBoer writes that he’s been telling the same joke for years about Silicon Valley’s only product, which might be universalized as “At last, a way to verb with nouns on the internet!” But the social-media techopoly is stable, now, and so the venture capitalists have moved on to the three terrible trends that will […]
Alex Wood is an addict but won’t give up his smartphone. But he has five strategies for limiting its control over him: “I used to wake up tired. My body would ache and my head felt sore, like waking up with a hangover. Finally, I took control, like attending an AA class for addicts, I […]
Yes, yes there is. The ultraportable Twisty Glass Mini boasts all of the simplicity of its forebear, while fitting just a little bit better in your pocket.The Mini is perfect for casual smokers, and anyone who doesn’t have the patience or fine motor skill for rolling papers. This piece keeps the convenient design of its older […]
Learning to code is a perfect way to grow your technical sophistication, and open up a host of new career options. But since most “learn to code” initiatives focus heavily on web development, it can be tough to find good resources for general-purpose computer science outside of a 4-year degree program. To get a broad […]
While many newer smartphones boast decent water resistance, most of us are still stuck with the kind of handsets that need to spend the night in a bowl of rice when they get wet. If you want to enjoy your favorite podcasts in the shower but are holding out for your next phone upgrade, this […]