Wednesday, September 12, 2007

In memoriam - Alex the Parrot

Sad news, reported in the Sept. 11 NY Times. Alex the talking parrot passed away of natural causes last week at the age of 31. I have heard Irene Pepperberg (former wife of a vision colleague of mine) give talks about Alex over a 25 year period. Irene taught Alex to learn scores of words, which he could put into categories, and to count small numbers of items, as well as recognize colors and shapes. His cognitive and language skills appeared to be about as competent as those in trained primates, and like them, he showed no evidence of having the recursive logic capabilities required for grammar and working with digital numbers.

Here is a brief video of Alex performing in his prime:

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