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Do crows’ vending machine skills “redefine intelligence”?

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From Victoria Gill at the BBC:

Now, an experiment using a vending machine specifically designed for crows has revealed something about how intelligence evolves.

These are, of course, the famous New Caledonian crows, very smarter at manipulating objects. They were able to peck the right size paper token in order to get a treat from a vending machine.

Scientists who have studied these birds for years say they have already revealed the very earliest stages of innovation.

Of his own insights into the animals’ abilities, Prof Christian Rutz, from University of St Andrews, has said: “When I see these crows making hooked tools, I have a glimpse of the very foundations of a technology that is evolving.”

No. The ability to estimate sizes and shapes correctly is not “the very earliest stages of innovation.” It’s part of survival as a crow. These birds excel at adapting those skills to interface with humans.

And Dr Jelbert said the birds were revealing that there could be “many different ways that evolution can produce intelligent behaviour”.

“Because we humans really prioritise imitation of others, because that’s how we learn, we assume it’s important to other animals.”

But, Dr Jelbert explained that the birds do not appear to pay attention to or to copy one another’s behaviour in the way that a human child might copy a teacher or parent.More.

That’s probably because the birds are not forming an image of the basic idea but rather putting a series of steps into practice. Note the way they seize on a limitation of the crows’ intelligence and portray it as a mere difference. That is. they don’t learn from others, but that is somehow just a “different form” of intelligence. It’s actually just a limitation.

There are indeed many different types of intelligence and the truly unique one studies crows and writes papers about them.


See also: Animals take turns when communicating? Who would have imagined that? That’s what “communication” *is.* Not only that but … pigeons understand probabilities! In reality, the pigeon does not do any abstract thinking and therefore works only with remembered outcomes. This is one of those circumstances where greater intelligence can be a handicap.

… And bees understand the concept of zero too! No they don’t. If life forms needed to understand abstract thought, they probably wouldn’t be able to feed themselves. They must attend to practical matters or die.

Are apes entering the Stone Age?

Animal minds: In search of the minimal self


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