They call him 007, probably because he’s smart, but probably also because that’s a fun name for a crow. 007 became famous for solving an 8-step puzzle involving sticks, stones, and ropes. The video of the feat was seen more than 11 million times on YouTube. One of its top comments is from a viewer who said he or she probably could not have solved the puzzle.
I watched the video more than a few times myself. Suddenly the subjective world of the crow—of animals—admitted a complexity I hadn’t considered. I couldn’t help but imagine a human consciousness looking out through the crow’s eyes, and to connect that kind of intelligence to personhood.
Whether this is instinct or chauvinism, I’m not alone. This year saw Go grandmaster Lee Sedol lose to Google’s AlphaGo computer program. Sedol’s wife says that at one point he called out a name in his sleep: not AlphaGo, or Google, but the name of the human engineer who moved the pieces on the program’s behalf.
As we discover and build new learning systems, the biggest lessons may be about how we fit into the new landscape around us.
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