Robots vs. Dinosaurs


Monkeys.

The first time  I saw the film Project X, with Matthew Broderick I fell in love with monkeys. Especially monkeys who know sign language. I don’t think I even began to understood until recently why this idea is so intriguing. Basically I think that if a monkey can learn to “speak”, that means that we, as intelligent beings, aren’t all that exciting. I always wanted to know what two monkeys who can use sign language would say to each other. You could even take it a step further, what would they talk about with their monkey babies?

projectx_fenceObviously if you have read any of Carl Sagan’s books you can tell that I just did as well. If you haven’t, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence is a fantastic read.

Carl says that monkeys are able to tell the grammatical difference between “Monkey likes banana” and “Banana likes monkey”. Think about that for a minute.

The inherent difference between those two phrases is nil. I am not an English teacher and I was never very good at grammar but this leads me to believe that if they can understand this that means they can comprehend complex language rules. If this example is understood by a prepubescent  (according to Sagan, they euthanize the monkeys once they reach puberty as they become too dangerous to work with) genetic cousin of ours, what is to stop them from gaining a firm grasp on language? And then what is to stop them from taking over the world? That seems to be pretty much how we did it.

Unfortunately most of my current research online about the subject (Dragons of Eden was written in the 1970’s) seems to be very unsure if any language is actually being spoken by the animals. A lot of the criticism seems to think that they aren’t truly speaking language but have been conditioned to be able to use sign language. I still want to know about the babies.

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