Intelligent Bonobos Essay

1650 WordsDec 20, 20137 Pages
22nd November 2011 Could a bonobo ever pass the Turing Test? Table of Contents Abstract page 3 Introduction page 4 Results of Great Ape Trust’s Tests on Kanzi page 5 Analysis page 7 Conclusion page 7 Bibliography page 9 Abstract Bonobos are the second best communicator on the planet and show great signs of intelligence. The can initiate vocal conversation and be trained to use lexigram boards to understand and express many hundreds of words. But could they ever pass the Turing Test, devised to determine whether computers can pass for human – in other words, think? Intensive exposure to human conversation and to other bonobo who are experienced communicators, at the earliest stage of development, offers the best chance. Introduction I first became interested in bonobos after listening to an episode of the American science podcast Radiolab. One part of this programme concerned the bonobo Kanzi and his unique ability to communicate with humans. He is the first ape - bonobos are a species of great ape - to show genuine comprehension of spoken English. In the podcast you also hear from Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, a primatologist, who acted as Kanzi’s human mother since he was two months old, and believes strongly that bonobos have some qualities that humans lack. She and her colleague William Fields described a situation where Kanzi came to warn Fields vocally (successfully communicating in a kind of broken English, despite the difficulties he experienced with his vocal cords that cannot fully close and the lack of control primates have over their tongue and lower jaw) that there was a snake inside a pit in his cage. This idea of real communication in spoken

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