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The amazing intelligence of crows [video] (ted.com)
59 points by critic on Feb 7, 2009 | hide | past | web | favorite | 12 comments

Joshua Klein makes a hot presentation. And shows how one can turn an intellectual obsession into a potent scientific/societal contribution.

The crow-intelligence demo is also a great rebuttal to those who complain that scientific experimentation is necessarily the /enemy/ of nature or of species preservation.

This video might also serve well to encourage school kids to consider science careers.

Nice talk, I wish there was more time at the end for him to talk about his ideas for mutually beneficial "arrangements" like the one idea of crows picking up trash after events etc.

Agreed. This has serious implications and I wonder if there are any other potential systems to be tapped.

Dolphins cleaning up the oceans?

Why are we humans always obsessed with figuring out how another living or non-living being can be leveraged for our benefit only. Why can't we just give them their space and live in 'mutual harmony' without expecting a favor. It is remarkable to provide crows with a way to get food.

But why do we have to train them to clean garbage? Can we know if they would really want to do it? Would that define their life, their purpose of existence? Are we just aiming at a crooked adoption of "survival of the fittest (read fit == helpful for human existence)"?

Imagine what would have happened if animals were as evil as humans.

The animals are free to find other sources of food, if they so desire. This is exploitation of the animals only to the extend that you don't believe in free will.

Free will is a difficult position to defend nowadays. If free will is physical, you have to explain away determinism and causality. If free will is supernatural, we have to go meta with the discussion and figure out why you believe in the nonphysical.

I would like to see some sort of website with information on how everyone can use these techniques locally, and tools share their experiences. As Joshua said, crows are everywhere. Anyone could do this. It seems like a relatively inexpensive hobby.

I used to have crows around my house alot and I'd try to trap them or shoot them with my bbgun or chase them or surprise them. But you can't they are too smart, looking back on it they were probably just playing with me. I've always been fascinated by them. A site like that would be great.

My parents have an African Grey parrot Benny and his intelligence is simply amazing. First, he can talk sentences and he mimics my mom pretty good. Second, he can connect sentences to meaning, so for example, when I enter the room he'll greet me, when I leave the room he'll say goodbye. If he's hungry he'll also tell you that (actually, he is hungry most of the time :)) And I think that crows have a similar intelligence level like African Greys, so their potential is really huge.

What was amazing in the video to me was that, apparently, crows are to other birds and animals of their (brain) size, what humans are to other primates and mammals: "they stick around and figure things out".

makes me want train crows as well.

Crow are not more intelligent than orcs in warcraft 3 which can, for example, patrol an area and autonomously engage any enemies that come near.

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