>If you can find a host for me that has a friendly parrot, I will be
very very glad. If you can find someone who has a friendly parrot I
can visit with, that will be nice too.
>DON'T buy a parrot figuring that it will be a fun surprise for me. To
acquire a parrot is a major decision: it is likely to outlive you. If
you don't know how to treat the parrot, it could be emotionally
scarred and spend many decades feeling frightened and unhappy. If you
buy a captured wild parrot, you will promote a cruel and devastating
practice, and the parrot will be emotionally scarred before you get it.
Meeting that sad animal is not an agreeable surprise.
But I would never buy a bird. Offering a better place for one who no longer has anyone to take care of it is great, but promoting breeding and sales of captive intelligent animals feels very wrong.
Or that they will like each other too much, and thereby no longer have any need for the human interaction.
Parrots in the wild rarely live until they are 80 years old... More often than not in the wild they succumb early to disease, predators, weather, human threats (e.g. cars, and pollution), or starvation. If you could ask a parrot which life it would prefer, the answer is pretty much a no brainer... Otherwise, NO animal should lead a domesticated life pretty much IMO.
Birds in the wild do not have a clean living environment with plenty of toys to stimulate and placate their learning and need to destroy/chew things.
They also don't live in climate controlled houses, and are not fed food on regular schedules.
Pet parrots can regularly get acquainted with and get attention from other birds when owners board them in safe "bird friendly" boarding places, or when owners know other owners with birds and arrange for meet-ups.
Parrots can also be taken outside on occasion to fly in safe locations where hawks won't swoop down and bite their heads off.
I do all the above, and provide my bird lots of attention, and it will be for as long as I physically can. By training my bird to be friendly with everyone I also am preparing him for an easy and desirable transition to someone else when I can no longer take care of him.
I want to destroy the myth that some present about lonely birds in "cages". Terrible owners are responsible for being terrible owners, not all bird owners.
With all that being said, it's up to each individual that takes in any pet to ensure that they can be cared for properly for life. I lost a dog prior to having my parrot after 16 years and it was like losing a child for me... There are no rules to having pets in my world, as long as a good plan and action for care, self education, and best intentions are involved, anyone can give their pet the best life possible. Parrots also make great pets if you have to soul to bear the noise, and their poop is much more manageable than most other domesticated animals. That being said, all of them are inherently wild animals, so don't expect them to always behave themselves and it will all be fine.
The crowd mostly asked questions like "is there a god?"
The ape generally replied that she was bored and wanted food.
Gray parrots and corvids and dolphins and squids are exceptionally fascinating and worth studying. They aren't the same as the mythologized first contact people are hoping for. The precise expectations we have for such an exchange may say something about the Fermi paradox. Very similar intelligences can still be so different as to render communication, a real exchange of ideas, impossible.
With Koko/many other talking apes the handler does a LOT of interpretation for the sign language, to the point that it starts to feel a bit like reading tea leaves. With Koko, I often feel that the handler goes way too far in this. For example:
Interviewer: Koko, do you feel love from the humans who have raised you and cared for you? Ely35150 asked that. We'll see what she says!
Dr. Patterson: She's reading a birthday card.
Koko: lips, apple give me
Dr. Patterson: People give her her favorite foods.
Koko: love, browse drink nipple
Dr. Patterson: Browse is like... the little foods/snacks we give them.
Koko: koko loves that nipple drink, go
Dr. Patterson: She's kissing her alligator.
Koko: lights off good
Many other scientists have approached the ape speaking thing through a bit more of a skeptical lens, and produced (IMHO) much better work. The work on Nim Chimpsky in particular is interesting - they found that while Nim could associate words with concepts (forming phrases like "give food me eat"), anything resembling syntax, creating new phrases, or a sustained conversation was simply out of his reach.
> Lem's IQ, as he mentioned in passing in an autobiographical essay (it was measured when he was in high school), was above 180, but no one who read many of his books needed that datum to conclude that here was an unusually powerful and wide-ranging intelligence. The son of a physician, Lem was trained in the sciences. Biology was his field, but in his mid-twenties he became a research assistant at what he described as a "kind of clearinghouse for scientific literature" in many disciplines coming into Poland from around the world.
Examples, I think especially are
- "Eden" -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eden_%28Lem_novel%29
Not as extreme as the other two in highlighting the impossibility of meaningful contact. Lem becomes much more skeptical later in his career. Because they actually do make contact to one individual alien and communicate with it. In Fiasco there is some communication but it turn out to be all completely different than expected base don human assumptions (and it all ends in the humans destroying everything, of course all from good intentions). In "Solaris" there is no meaningful communication at all, one can't even say there are misunderstandings.
- "The Invincible" -- "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Invincible"
This is about non-biological self-replicating swarming alien micro-robotic life forms.
- "Solaris" -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solaris_%28novel%29
> Solaris chronicles the ultimate futility of attempted communications with the extraterrestrial life inhabiting a distant alien planet named Solaris. The planet is almost completely covered with an ocean of gel that is revealed to be a single, planet-encompassing organism. Terran scientists conclude it is a sentient being and attempt to communicate with it.
- "His Master's Voice" - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/His_Master%27s_Voice_%28novel%...
> The novel is written as a first-person narrative, the memoir of a mathematician named Peter Hogarth, who becomes involved in a Pentagon-directed project (code-named "His Master's Voice", or HMV for short) in the Nevada desert, where scientists are working to decode what seems to be a message from outer space (specifically, a neutrino signal from the Canis Minor constellation)
- "Fiasco" -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiasco_%28novel%29
> The book is a further elaboration of Lem's skepticism: in Lem's opinion, the difficulty in communication with alien civilizations is cultural disparity rather than spatial distance. The failure to communicate with an alien civilization is the main theme of the book.
EDIT (Thanks @yeellow): Pilot Pirx => Ijon Tichy (how could I mix them up? Well, it's been two decades or so since I last read them)
- ~~Pilot Pirx~~ Ijon Tichy series: I remember a short story from the "Ijon Tichy" series of stories (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Star_Diaries): It started with a microphone being lowered to onto the surface of an extremely hot planet (hotter than Venus) and a conversation was recorded, I think it was a student and a teacher, or it was between scholars of that alien race. Of course, already it is clear that this wasn't about any reality-based-fiction, the whole setup was just to show human thought in a mirror by letting the conversation come from aliens. In the conversation the rogue (student? scientist? I don't remember) proposes that there could be life on planets that are much colder than their own. This obviously preposterous idea (haha) is shot down by the other party in the conversation and exposed as silly nonsense contradicting science (of that hot world).
By the way, unrelated to the current subject but possibly one of the best stories ever written, is the Ijon Tichy story where he is alone in his space shit and a tiny meteor destroys the controls. It takes two people to repair the damage though, one inside, one outside the space ship - simultaneously. He knows about some time altering vortexes and manages to fiddle with the engines to fly through them. Each time he flies through one of those vortexes there are multiple versions of himself on the space ship, for example his Wednesday and his Saturday version. The story is about his difficulty recruiting himself for the repairs. It's hilarious! It starts with him waking in the middle of deep sleep because somebody who looks like him is shaking him. In his sleepy state he forgot all about the time vortexes and he thinks he's dreaming. So he refuses to move because "damage repaired during a dream is not really repaired, so I may as well just keep sleeping". The next day he has the exact opposite problem: He finds himself sleeping and tries to convince his previous-day version to do the repairs together, without success of course. That's just the start though, more and more versions of himself appear and disappear...
Found the time vortex story (in full): https://english.lem.pl/works/novels/the-star-diaries/154-the...
So, if you write it Lastname Firstname, do you (almost) get Tachyon?
(I suspect Lem of always pulling legs ...)
It's good, but not as good as his first book, imo, "Story of Your Life and Others". Story of Your Life was the inspiration for the movie "Arrival". That book was amazing.
It's going straight to the top of my to-read list.
We really do live in a world with so much great entertainment in the forms of literary art and movies.
Pretty much the plot of Contact (or at least its inciting incident). Both the book (by Carl Sagan) and the movie (with Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey) are really good.
A truly alien species might communicate in ways we cannot even detect, or think of detecting, like say magnetic fields or some other medium that almost nothing on Earth uses.
Furthermore, even if they used the same "channels" and frequencies as us, their minds may just be too different. Even fundamental concepts like time and numbers or the notion of self may be perceived too differently by them for their languages to have any convenient analogues to ours.
Shameless self-plug: we are working on it, combining citizen science and AI. Our plarform goes live in a few weeks.
> Our problem is to penetrate the communication system that is not visually based,and is purely acoustical.
Given our depth in knowledge in acoustics, I'm hoping you can expand a little on this
"Deep Thinkers" is a good recent book, you can check it out (https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/D/bo27...)
>Given our depth in knowledge in acoustics, I'm hoping you can expand a little on this
Our challenge is that we are visual species who are trying to understand “acoustic” species. (see ”What it is like to be a bat? https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/iatl/study/ugmodules/hum...)
Yes, we can describe their vocalizations in terms of peak frequencies, RMS, center frequencies, duration, intensity, inter-click-intervals for burst pulses or sperm whale codas, but what does it all mean? The biggest struggle is not even that, but how to conceptualize their communication system. Naturally, being humans, we want it to have semantics, grammar, pragmatics and phonetics, and if it does not, they must be dumb (i.e. Chomsky’s argument). So we search for the smallest unit (a phoneme) and naturally we cannot find it.
Additionally, we know that dolphins have at least 2 sound generators (and possibly up to 4) that could work simultaneously and independently, potentially producing very complex utterances. On top of that, we have an animal that “sees” the world through sound, it must have at least some contribution to how the communication system is set up. The conventional belief as of now is that echolocation is separate from communication, although Dr. John Lilly was convinced that dolphins could use echolocation to describe things in their environment (to be clear, we have no scientific support for this hypothesis).
That is why describing dolphin whistles and other sounds terms of duration, peak frequencies, infliction points, etc., does not help at all, as it does not help us to understand how the communication system is set up and what this whistle actually means (and why is it used). The only positive thing in all that is that there must be some sort of communication system. If you ever encounter a pod (especially the offshore species) you would be amazed at their constant chat. So much energy is spent on all these utterances they must be important and must have at least some meaning.
Obligatory xkcd: https://xkcd.com/638/
But that's a very superficial understanding of a language. Maybe we have different concepts of what understanding a language means.
Dogs are smart enough to grasp relatively advanced concepts, do you think you would understand the response if you asked "do you want food A, B, C, or D"? And I'm not talking about body language (them pointing at the thing) or training them to react in a specific way because that's actually you teaching them a language. Another example: listen to 2 dogs barking at each other. To what level can you understand what they are "saying"? Yes, you can say "aggressive" or "submissive". But is it fair to call that understanding the language? There has to be more to their language than just basic emotions.
Take this list of languages  (or any language that is completely foreign to you). If someone is speaking one of them to you and you can only guess things from body language or tone is it fair to say you understand that language?
The meaning of a lot of human languages or alphabets is completely lost even if they were conceived by humans almost identical to us biologically. Hoping to understand alien languages without the aliens helping us is a pipe dream.
There has been limited success with parts of Voynich Manuscript (some plants names?) and some interesting developments with rongorongo, but overall, yes, super hard. Hopeflly, Natural Language Processing might help, some promising results were reported for Linear B.
We understand natural constructs because we kind of understand the natural laws that govern them. We're nowhere near understanding the laws that govern the intelligent, conscious mind. Even our own.
P.S. Good luck with your project. Sounds very interesting and right on the money for this conversation.
A lot of researchers badly wanted to prove language in chimps back in the 70's, but it all amounted to naught, and other than a few holdouts, the field moved on.
People got excited about animal communication, but confused that with language. Language has a syntax, such that one can utter a sentence you've never spoken before and you can understand a sentence you've never heard before. Language is impossible under conditioning-based learning, but most of the chimp "utterances" could still be explained by conditioning. E.g., chimp Washoe infamously signed "water" and "bird" when a swan happened to be nearby, but that could be explained with operant conditioning: she associated signing "water" and "bird" in the presence of waters and birds with getting treats.
Eventually, researchers started taking a sober look at the "corpuses" generated by animals. When cherry-picking individual phrases, things looked impressive; but when they really started to analyze these statistically as a whole, the results were unimpressive, closer to random utterings designed to elicit treats, rather than communication.
As far as I know, prarie dog  is the closest we've come to a rosetta stone for another species. We can translate things like "brown fox north" and such.
Well, not exactly.In fact, we still know surprisingly little. For the humpback song, one of the most studied topics up to date, there is still a major disagreement if it is a reproductive display or something else.Humpbacks make tons of other sounds as well, those have not been studied as much as their songs. For bottlenose dolphins, the most studied species, we sort of know the function of the signature whistles (again, not everyone agrees), but know very little about the function/meaning of other whistles and other sounds like burst pulses or LFNs.Echolocation has been studied a lot, still, we do not know if it is used in communication in any way.
They can communicate with us pretty ok. Notorious acid head government contract grifter John Lilly's assistant  got a young male dolphin to screech count all the way up to six (i think) in english in exchange for erotic massage.
It's crazy to think about, but to have the sort of view of dolphins that we have of a prairie dog town we are gonna need some way better tools if it's even possible. If I could share a language with one or many dolphins I don't even know what I'd tell them that they'd care about.
I have owned a Meyers Parrot for over 15 years. We got him from a local breeder as a baby and hand fed him. I question the morality of owning such smart animals as pets, but that aside, he is a great pet. Parrots do require at least a few hours of interaction time a day from their owners. Right now mine is next to me beating up on his bell toy. He will only do this when someone is watching him. Anyway, don’t get a parrot unless you have a lot of free time.
Really, what do we expect to hear from monkeys and dolphins deciphering their language? Give them a small talk on the current Bitcoin prices or ask what they think about the next elections? I suspect in the end it'll lead to something like "How are you? I'm fine!"
Maybe it's just me though.
You could look at their art, listen to their music, learn their philosophy - assuming they have any of that, and that it's comprehensible to us.
Here's the beginning of the scientific basis for understanding e.g. what they do at Findhorn:
"What Bodies Think About: Bioelectric Computation Outside the Nervous System" https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18736698
Obligatory XKCD: https://www.xkcd.com/1211/
There are several movies about why this is a bad idea.
If you have a FTL spaceship, the modal weapon will likely be FTL torpedoes, armed with thermonuclear warheads or better, and guided by kamikaze AI. Engagement distance will not be in visual range. Unguided weapons will miss, unless the targeting system can predict where the target will be when the weapon reaches it.
So at some level, it will be combat computers trying to "Iocaine Powder" each other, by predicting the other's offensive and defensive strategy. The AI that can be more unpredictable, while better predicting what the other AI will do, will win.