(I'm liveblogging from TED 2008, in Monterey, CA)
Technology hacker Joshua Klein built a vending machine that teaches crows to deposit coins they find into a special vending machine that dispenses peanuts. He has been studying crows for over ten years and has learned that they are very intelligent. Their brain/body weight ratios are similar to chimpanzees. He's showing a video of how a crow learned to use a tool to pull an object out of of a tube. It's impressive.
Crows are smart and adaptable. For example, they drop nuts on streets so cars run over them, then wait for the traffic signal to change so they can pick up the food. Other crows who see this happen quickly learn how to do this for themselves.
His machine uses Skinnerian training. He put coins and peanuts around the machine. The crows eat the peanut on the feeder tray. Then Joshua took away the nuts and left coins in the feeder tray. It pisses off the crows. They sweep the coins around with their beaks, looking for food. When a coin accidentally drops into the slot, it dispenses a peanut. Next, Joshua took away the coins. The crows learned to find coins elsewhere and deposit them.
So now he wants to train crows for search and rescue, picking up trash, and other mutually beneficial tasks.
Yale scientists have managed to restore some biological function to the brains of dead pigs killed in a slaughterhouse 4 hours before the experiment.
Well, sort of. Paleontologists have identified a 430 million-year-old fossil of a multi-tentacled sea creature as a new species and dubbed it Sollasina cthulhu after HP Lovecraft’s Great Old One. From Yale University: The new cthulhu, Sollasina, had 45 tentacle-like tube feet, which it used to crawl along the ocean floor and capture food. The […]
Archaeologists uncovered the skeleton of this neolithic dog more than a century ago in a 5,000 year old tomb on on the island of Mainland, Orkney, Scotland. Now, forensic scientists and artists have reconstructed the animal’s face. According to Historic Environment Scotland researcher Steve Farrar, this dog and 23 others found in the “Cuween Hill […]
Believe it or not, PDF files have been the go-to format for contracts and forms of any type since 1993. And sure, they’re easily shareable – but that’s about it. When you need to edit or sign a document – and you will – that’s when frustration can set in. Luckily, there are workarounds, and […]
It’s 4/20! Smoke ’em if you got ’em – and if you haven’t got ’em, check out this roundup of deep discounts on pipes and other accessories. They’re all on sale, but you can take an extra discount off the final price courtesy of the Boing Boing store by using the online code 420SAVE. Freeze […]
Ever wonder if you’re cleaning your teeth well enough? If your last dentist visit has you getting a little more thorough about oral care, it might be time to save yourself some guesswork. A lot of electric toothbrushes promise deep cleaning, but there’s a Platinum Sonic Toothbrush that has power plus the simple but effective […]