Making noise, not getting anywhere.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The buzz of bees

Bees can recognize human faces, study finds

More pseudo-news about animal superpowers. Like the ability of pigeons to distinguish painter's styles, this is interesting for entirely different reasons than the general audience will think reading the article - rather than showing some uncanny humanness in bees, it shows the algorithmic generalityof some problems, and misleads one into thinking they are simple to solve computationally, because supposedly simple animals can solve them. I would be surprised, however, if these bees were doing better than face recognition software, in which case the point becomes moot.

Particularly interesting is the researcher's quote "the bees probably don’t understand what a human face is" (my emphasis), indicating that it's not just the journalists that are playing that angle for the publicity. Although on the other hand, maybe that does mean that killer bees can be trained to be truly deadly now. Winged assassins! Hold the presses!


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