This just in from the scientific front:
Because of the way owners have selected smarter and more empathic dogs down the generations, these pets now appear to have a limited “theory of mind”, the capacity that enables us to understand the desires, motivations and intentions of others, New Scientist reports today.
I suppose it’s only logical that, when you’ve spent around 15.000 years with a person, you pick up some of the other’s idiosyncrasies. So, if the one doesn’t actually take up barking, the other might still develop a bit of an ‘I think, therefore I am‘ attitude.
It probably does tell us something about the relative learning potential of our two species that dogs seem to have learnt more from us than we did from them.
Which doesn’t mean that humans aren’t very clever, little monkeys – as the following story that appeared in today’s papers shows:
Small robots working in swarms have finally moved out of the laboratory and into the real world. That was the most significant feature of the Ministry of Defence’s Grand Challenge competition, held over the weekend. It’s an idea that is also being pursued by the US military. The advantages of a decentralised swarm have long been apparent to researchers. After all, it’s a strategy that has proven effective for ants, bees and other social insects for millions of years. However, until now, robot swarms have been experimental rather than practical.
The problem with our type of cleverness is, of course, that it so often translates into ever more ingenious ways of killing other humans.
I’m pretty sure that if dogs would spend yet another 15,000 years in our company, they still wouldn’t feel the urge to develop, let’s say, cluster bombs in the shape of juicy-looking bones. They’re much too intelligent for that kind of foolishness.
It is a pity, really, that in all the time we spent with our canine companions, not more of their practical and mostly decent attitudes rubbed off on us.
As it stands, we can only hope, that when our robots truly become intelligent, they will not also inherit our innate and very human viciousness.
If you enjoyed this post, subscribe today to get free updates by email or RSS.