Here’s a classic pop sci article that could have been written, as George Orwell predicted (1949), by a machine:
From an early age, human infants are able to produce vocalizations in a wide range of emotional states and situations — an ability felt to be one of the factors required for the development of language. Researchers have found that wild bonobos (our closest living relatives) are able to vocalize in a similar manner. Their findings challenge how we think about the evolution of communication and potentially move the dividing line between humans and other apes.
Author Zanna Clay said that the findings show that “more research needs to be done on our great ape relatives before we can make conclusions about human uniqueness. The more we look, the more continuity we find among animals and humans”
The type of functional flexibility they observed in bonobos could represent an important evolutionary transition from functionally fixed animal vocalisations towards flexible human vocalisations, which seems to have appeared some 6-10 million years ago in the shared common ancestor between humans and great apes. It appears that many of the core features of human language have deep roots in the primate lineage.
So then one of my distant descendants can phone up a bonobo and interview him, right?
Nope. Bet it never happens.
The fact that people don’t start openly mocking this nonsense shows how far pop science has diverged from common sense. And it doesn’t matter except for one thing: The nonsense always detracts from human civil liberties without helping animals.
Note from experience: Cats are also able to “produce vocalizations in a wide range of emotional states and situations — an ability felt to be one of the factors required for the development of language.” The difference is, no one funds studies on cat vocalizations. So what is the true motive for funding studies of bonobo vocalizations? Really. Honestly.
And is the taxpayer funding it? Does anyone else ever get sick of all this?
See also: Can we talk? Language as the business end of consciousness
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