I promise you, I do not make a habit of visiting the BBC News website every day…
Ok, this is a lie. I do visit it every day. My excuse for this is two-fold;
1) I am a writer and inspiration can be found everywhere, including news stories.
2) I work in Communications and therefore need to stay up to date with the latest news both locally and nationally.
On my visit today I saw this article about intelligent primates; primates who are being given computers and ipads to improve their quality of life, and research their cognitive responses, intelligence and memory.
At the beginning of the article it is stated that;
‘Of course, it is not "natural" behaviour for a chimp to interact with a computer screen, but scientists suggest this type of task could be good for captive apes.’
My first reaction was, well of course it isn’t “natural” behaviour for a human to interact with a computer screen either.
What are we doing? Every Monday morning I walk into the office wondering why on earth I sit in front of a computer screen every day inside a building. I then go home with tired eyes and sit in front of a television screen, or my laptop, inside a building. Now, I don’t think the building issue can be argued given the current season and temperatures but have we really made life so boring for ourselves that we all have to sit in front of screens every day, all day?
I am, therefore, reminded every Monday morning of the film Officespace. If you haven’t seen this film and you work in an office then I would definitely recommend it. I was introduced to it by a friend when I worked for minimum wage at a financial company. I hated my job and I didn’t stay there long. Every morning I would drive into work hoping to turn the corner and see the building on fire just so that I could leave the job and go home without having another failed career prospective.
So why, when so many of us feel this way, are we encouraging primates into the same behaviour?
My other qualm came towards the end of the article;
"A number of studies suggest that the monkeys come to prefer having the computer apparatus available, to not having it available, even when the alternative is free food."
I am reminded of computer games and the highly addictive nature of not only games but the internet and television. I have long felt that this is because of a draw towards a bright screen inside of a naturally lit room. Children and teenagers across the world are becoming addictive to computer games, a minority to the extent that they no longer eat properly. It is not conceivable that these monkeys are addicted to the screens and games rather than preferring it to free food?
If we continue down the route, what next? Primates playing World of Warcraft? Rhesus monkeys gathering together into Horde raids while the Orang-utans join forces as the Alliance?
This article left me a small amount of uneasiness and I have only just got to the bottom of it. Where are the gorillas? I wonder if the scientists haven’t given gorillas an Ipad or a touchscreen because they know what will happen; that the gorillas will rise up and take over the world.
For the win.
Photo from here. Something else interesting.