Sunday, 19 April 2009

Amazing vending machine-using crows!

My friend Jaina recently posted a link to this blog The Triumph of Bullshit via Twitter, and I was blown away by how awesome it is. It's funny, it's smart, and it gave me this story so I don't have to actually think up weird animals or weird animal news to look up and post on this blog. Everybody wins!

So this fellow, Joshua Klein, came up with the idea of training captive crows to pick up and return coins in exchange for peanuts. The hope is that these crows will pass on their crow knowledge to wild crows, who will stop being goth and haunting lovesick poets and do something positive for society. But I'll let him speak for himself:

The goal of this project is to create a device that will autonomously train crows. So far we've trained captive crows to deposit dropped coins they find on the ground in exchange for peanuts. The next step is to see how quickly we can get wild crows to learn the system, and then how quickly they can learn it from each other.

Once we've got system down for teaching coin collection we'll move to seeing how flexibly they can learn *other* tasks, like collecting garbage, sorting through discarded electronics, or maybe even search and rescue.

You can check out more info at his website here. I found the photo on The Triumph of Bullshit. (I'm hoping they won't think it's bullshit that I used it.)

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