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Exploring Animal Intelligence Hack Chat

The other kind of "AI"

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 12:00 pm PDT Local time zone:
Hack Chat
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Hans Forsberg will host the Hack Chat on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 at noon Pacific Time.

Time zones got you down? Here's a handy time converter!

Join Hack ChatFrom our lofty perch atop the food chain it's easy to make the assumption that we humans are the last word in intelligence. A quick glance at social media or a chat with a random stranger at the store should be enough to convince you that human intelligence isn't all it's cracked up to be, or at least that it's not evenly distributed. But regardless, we are pretty smart, thanks to those big, powerful brains stuffed into our skulls.

We're far from the only smart species on the planet, though. Fellow primates and other mammals clearly have intelligence, and we've seen amazingly complex behaviors from animals in just about every taxonomic rank. But it's the birds who probably stuff the most functionality into their limited neural hardware, with tool use, including the ability to make new tools, being common, along with long-distance navigation, superb binocular vision, and of course the ability to rapidly maneuver in three-dimensions while flying.

Hans Forsberg has taken an interest in avian intelligence lately, and to explore just what's possible he devised a fiendishly clever system to train his local magpie flock to clean up his yard, which he calls "BirdBox". We recently wrote up his initial training attempts, which honestly bear a strong resemblance to training a machine learning algorithm, which is probably no small coincidence since his professional background is with neural networks. He has several years of work into his birds, and he'll stop by the Hack Chat to talk about what goes into leveraging animal intelligence, what we can learn about our systems from it, and where BirdBox goes next.

  • Hack Chat Transcript, Part 1

    Dan Maloney3 days ago 0 comments

    Hi everyone, welcome to Hack Chat today. I'm Dan and I'll be moderating for Hans Forsberg, who has been doing some interesting work exploring animal intelligence. @hfor62, are you online yet?

    Nicolas Tremblay12:00 PM
    You don't fix the tapes first?

    deʃhipu12:00 PM
    I think you forgot resistors for those leds

    Ahron Wayne12:00 PM
    It's time for birds!

    Bird hacking -- wait, it's not Thanksgiving yet...

    hfor6212:01 PM
    Hi there I'm online

    Nicolas Tremblay12:01 PM
    don't confuse bird hacking and hacking birds

    deʃhipu12:02 PM
    avian flu

    Ahron Wayne12:02 PM
    Avians Fly

    deʃhipu12:02 PM
    khe khe

    Hi Hans, welcome to the Hack Chat. Can you start things off with a little about how you got into this area?

    hfor6212:02 PM
    Yes!

    hfor6212:02 PM
    When I turned six, I got an electric construction box. Since then, I have been enchanted by electricity, electronics and computers.

    Through a long professional career, I now have the opportunity to work with smart colleagues and together we apply AI and

    machine-learning to real applications such as robotic lawnmowers.

    hfor6212:03 PM
    When I turned six, I got an electric construction box. Since then, I have been enchanted by electricity, electronics and computers.

    Through a long professional career, I now have the opportunity to work with smart colleagues and together we apply AI and

    machine-learning to real applications such as robotic lawnmowers.

    hfor6212:03 PM
    Anyway, most of what I have created has been further development

    of existing solutions, quite naturally, but when I saw our garden magpie-pair unlock the rather complicated locking

    mechanism in the lanterns we exhibited in the winter darkness, my curiosity was aroused. The magpies were looking for the

    paraffin candles that were in the lanterns, could I challenge the magpies to solve missions?

    Finally a hobby project where I got to start from scratch. There were no how-to's to google here, it was entirely up to me!

    hfor6212:03 PM
    At the same time, a hot topic with a lot of ongoing research:

    Interesting, wonder why they wanted the candles

    hfor6212:04 PM
    Here are two interesting articles about corvids

    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2019/02/new-caledonian-crows-plan-ahead-with-tools/

    https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20191211-crows-could-be-the-smartest-animal-other-than-primates

    hfor6212:04 PM
    I think the candle (IKEA) are pure paraffine...rocket fule for birds as long as vegetarian..

    hfor6212:05 PM
    There is so much to say about the magpies, We have had a beautiful pair in the garden ever since we bought the

    house 20 years ago...yes i understand the birds are not the same...it looks even more complicated...

    Ahron Wayne12:05 PM
    I liked one of the suggestions someone had that you train them to pick up coins instead of bottlecaps. Though you might get into trouble when they realize that people carry said coins.

    I chose that picture of the magpie because you can just tell by looking at them that there's a lot going on inside that tiny brain.

    Ahron Wayne12:06 PM
    Build a tiny vending machine, let them pick the snacks

    Stephen12:06 PM
    Can you post a view of the bird box from further back so we can see the entire structure? I've seen the close up images of the deck but wanted to see the hopper at the top that delivers the food.

    hfor6212:06 PM
    Over here there arent much coins any longer

    Ahron Wayne12:06 PM
    Bitcoins then

    A different sort of bitcoin mining, eh?

    Ahron Wayne12:07 PM
    Right. initial IPO 100 million

    hfor6212:07 PM

    Stephen12:07 PM
    Thanks Hans!

    deʃhipu12:07 PM
    corvids are the only animals we know that can recognize humans by their faces

    hfor6212:07 PM
    I'll try to find an image of the complete upper box

    Morning.Star12:08 PM
    I had a pair of 'pies nest in the tree outside my bedroom window and they were a pain, they yelled at me every morning and evening for turning on lights in the room.

    They built a fence in front of the nest in the end. ;-)

    Stephen12:08 PM
    Won't be long before the birds...

    Read more »

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