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(9News (Australia))   Koko the gorilla is "saddened" by Robin Williams' death. Caesar rolls eyes, tells her to get over it   (9news.com.au) divider line 52
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2474 clicks; posted to Entertainment » on 13 Aug 2014 at 6:41 AM (37 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-08-13 04:11:05 AM  
Why did they even tell her?
 
2014-08-13 05:10:03 AM  
So they could get her in the news and draw more attention to their experiments.

Also this news story is useless without video.  Could be total carp.
 
2014-08-13 06:55:58 AM  
I think there's a small kernel of interesting language experiment that underlies the Koko cottage industry, but she appears to be used mostly as a 400-lb ouija board.

It's reminiscent of listening to a crazy cat lady interpreting her pet's meowing.
 
2014-08-13 07:03:30 AM  
9news.static9.net.au
 
2014-08-13 07:07:14 AM  

Monkeyfark Ridiculous: I think there's a small kernel of interesting language experiment that underlies the Koko cottage industry, but she appears to be used mostly as a 400-lb ouija board.

It's reminiscent of listening to a crazy cat lady interpreting her pet's meowing.


More like those parents of non-verbal near vegetative state kids who fall for that "guided typing" crap.  They see what they want to see happen.  The handlers want Koko to feel sad, so she does.  She probably runs more off of visual and tonal cues than anything else.  That ape has spent years learning that when the funny sounds coming out of the people's mouths have a certain tone, they want to see a certain behavior.
 
2014-08-13 07:14:34 AM  
You can almost see what she's thinking in her eyes...

img.fark.net

                 So when are one of these assholes going to give me my banana?
 
2014-08-13 07:21:14 AM  

devildog123: Monkeyfark Ridiculous: I think there's a small kernel of interesting language experiment that underlies the Koko cottage industry, but she appears to be used mostly as a 400-lb ouija board.

It's reminiscent of listening to a crazy cat lady interpreting her pet's meowing.

More like those parents of non-verbal near vegetative state kids who fall for that "guided typing" crap.  They see what they want to see happen.  The handlers want Koko to feel sad, so she does.  She probably runs more off of visual and tonal cues than anything else.  That ape has spent years learning that when the funny sounds coming out of the people's mouths have a certain tone, they want to see a certain behavior.


Good call, I thought of that too. Couldn't remember what they called it.

It would be interesting to do some rigorous testing and see what she can actually do, though.
 
2014-08-13 07:23:23 AM  
img.fark.net

"He was great in Garp but Patch Adams was just awful. Also, he had more body hair than me."
 
2014-08-13 07:49:18 AM  
No, she's not. Nice try though
 
2014-08-13 07:59:55 AM  
All right folks, we've gone through the looking glass on the Robin Williams story. It's time to move on. but I suppose everybody has got to use the story to promote their cause.
 
2014-08-13 08:11:47 AM  
And this has just jumped the shark.
 
2014-08-13 08:17:03 AM  

squidloe: And this has just jumped the shark.


A reference to a Happy Days episode, the same show that spawned Mork from Ork. Nice way to pull it all together.
 
2014-08-13 08:36:22 AM  

devildog123: That ape has spent years learning that when the funny sounds coming out of the people's mouths have a certain tone, they want to see a certain behavior.


What, exactly, do you think you do when someone talks to you? You weren't born with language skills, you know, you learned them. Presumably, you learned them a lot quicker than a gorilla can, and to a greater extent so you have a wider range of symbol combinations to interpret, but it seems pretty unlikely that what you did as a toddler is fundamentally different than what this adult gorilla has done. You're just a bald ape yourself, after all.
 
2014-08-13 08:45:02 AM  

devildog123: Monkeyfark Ridiculous: I think there's a small kernel of interesting language experiment that underlies the Koko cottage industry, but she appears to be used mostly as a 400-lb ouija board.

It's reminiscent of listening to a crazy cat lady interpreting her pet's meowing.

More like those parents of non-verbal near vegetative state kids who fall for that "guided typing" crap.  They see what they want to see happen.  The handlers want Koko to feel sad, so she does.  She probably runs more off of visual and tonal cues than anything else.  That ape has spent years learning that when the funny sounds coming out of the people's mouths have a certain tone, they want to see a certain behavior.


There really isn't anything of value in observing a single subject to a given degree of scrutiny, anyway.
Beyond the fact that 90% of it is probably projection and athropomorphization, there is no reason to think that Koko is necessarliy representative of gorilla intelligence or linguistic skill. Attempts to get her to use her SL skills with other gorillas have been disappointing - they don't seem to catch on. She might be an outlier.
 
2014-08-13 08:45:27 AM  

skozlaw: devildog123: That ape has spent years learning that when the funny sounds coming out of the people's mouths have a certain tone, they want to see a certain behavior.

What, exactly, do you think you do when someone talks to you? You weren't born with language skills, you know, you learned them. Presumably, you learned them a lot quicker than a gorilla can, and to a greater extent so you have a wider range of symbol combinations to interpret, but it seems pretty unlikely that what you did as a toddler is fundamentally different than what this adult gorilla has done. You're just a bald ape yourself, after all.


The point is, that ape doesn't know Robin Williams died, and isn't really sad about it.  If they told her that they had just won a million dollars using the facial expressions and tone they used when telling her about Robin Williams, I bet she would have had a similar reaction.
 
2014-08-13 08:52:23 AM  
img.fark.net
"Apple nipple hungry"
 
2014-08-13 08:55:29 AM  
You're telling me Robin Williams is still dead?!
 
2014-08-13 08:57:47 AM  

Monkeyfark Ridiculous: devildog123: Monkeyfark Ridiculous: I think there's a small kernel of interesting language experiment that underlies the Koko cottage industry, but she appears to be used mostly as a 400-lb ouija board.

It's reminiscent of listening to a crazy cat lady interpreting her pet's meowing.

More like those parents of non-verbal near vegetative state kids who fall for that "guided typing" crap.  They see what they want to see happen.  The handlers want Koko to feel sad, so she does.  She probably runs more off of visual and tonal cues than anything else.  That ape has spent years learning that when the funny sounds coming out of the people's mouths have a certain tone, they want to see a certain behavior.

Good call, I thought of that too. Couldn't remember what they called it.

It would be interesting to do some rigorous testing and see what she can actually do, though.


I lean towards what is expressed in these comments. Seems the most likely explainations.
 
2014-08-13 08:59:44 AM  

Le French Boo: You're telling me Robin Williams is still dead?!


I've been watching ABC News all day. He's yet to be seen outside the home.
 
2014-08-13 09:00:02 AM  

devildog123: The point is, that ape doesn't know Robin Williams died, and isn't really sad about it. If they told her that they had just won a million dollars using the facial expressions and tone they used when telling her about Robin Williams, I bet she would have had a similar reaction.


I have a very hard time believing you have close enough experience with the subject to accept that's a reasonable conclusion on your part and not just a completely random guess based on what you think you know about semi-related topics in Biology.

Assumptions that other animals are incapable of feeling some sort of emotions or communicating meaningfully with each other and other species is based almost exclusively on our own failure to communicate with and interpret the behaviors of those animals. That conclusion is no more valid than the conclusion that we're just too stupid to achieve the goal and it's rooted in the notion of inherent sapient superiority.

You have no more reason to believe that the gorilla is incapable of expressing sadness at Robin Williams' death than you have reason to believe it is capable. Any conclusion at this point other than a question mark is invalid.
 
2014-08-13 09:02:05 AM  
"When a 400-lb gorilla has you by the tits, you farking pay attention."
 
2014-08-13 09:05:35 AM  
Monkey see, monkey do, monkey gets banana or trainer gets shredded. And turn up the air-condituoning...it's fricking hot in this monkey suit.
 
2014-08-13 09:08:12 AM  
This is why you don't give gorillas belts. Well, that and the fact that they don't usually wear pants. But that's beside the point at a time like this.
 
2014-08-13 09:09:28 AM  
I find it hard to believe that Koko has any idea who Robin Williams was.
 
2014-08-13 09:17:14 AM  

Publikwerks: [img.fark.net image 603x338]
"Apple nipple hungry"


"Apple nipple crap."
 
2014-08-13 09:18:41 AM  

Monkeyfark Ridiculous: I think there's a small kernel of interesting language experiment that underlies the Koko cottage industry, but she appears to be used mostly as a 400-lb ouija board.

It's reminiscent of listening to a crazy cat lady interpreting her pet's meowing.


I don't know. When I watched the original video with RV, it reminded me of interactions with my severely autistic son who is also nonverbal and loves to play chase/tickle games. There must be other value to the research with Koko.

My son wouldn't recognize RW from a video. I was impressive that Koko did. My son doesn't care about the death of anyone. He loves them when they are present but then they go. It is the nature of relying on low-wage caregivers, teachers, and therapists. My son would have been in the lap of RW.
 
2014-08-13 09:19:56 AM  

skozlaw: devildog123: The point is, that ape doesn't know Robin Williams died, and isn't really sad about it. If they told her that they had just won a million dollars using the facial expressions and tone they used when telling her about Robin Williams, I bet she would have had a similar reaction.

I have a very hard time believing you have close enough experience with the subject to accept that's a reasonable conclusion on your part and not just a completely random guess based on what you think you know about semi-related topics in Biology.

Assumptions that other animals are incapable of feeling some sort of emotions or communicating meaningfully with each other and other species is based almost exclusively on our own failure to communicate with and interpret the behaviors of those animals. That conclusion is no more valid than the conclusion that we're just too stupid to achieve the goal and it's rooted in the notion of inherent sapient superiority.

You have no more reason to believe that the gorilla is incapable of expressing sadness at Robin Williams' death than you have reason to believe it is capable. Any conclusion at this point other than a question mark is invalid.


Wow, you must have a huge brain.
 
2014-08-13 09:20:34 AM  
Well, Koko & Robin Williams DID have the same amount of body hair. Maybe that was the bonding point?
 
2014-08-13 09:30:21 AM  
Yeah, I'm calling bullshiat on this one.
 
2014-08-13 09:52:22 AM  

SuperChuck: I find it hard to believe that Koko has any idea who Robin Williams was.


Did you ever watch the 2004 video? She recognized him from his movies.
 
2014-08-13 09:52:58 AM  
Maybe she remembers him? I'm not sure how long ago they met nor do I know how many people she actually interacts with outside of her handlers. I mean, shiat, we see people's pets react to seeing them after an extended period of time. I'm usually cynical but I can see this story having merit. How it affects her vs us is a completely different argument.
 
2014-08-13 09:53:00 AM  
ts1.mm.bing.net
 
2014-08-13 09:58:26 AM  
Isn't this the same gorilla that wanted to look at boobies and women who weren't willing to indulge her fetish were fired or quickly pushed out the door?

I'm going to guess there's the distinct possibility this isn't on the up and up.
 
2014-08-13 09:59:49 AM  

laid back w/bud light: Wow, you must have a huge brain.


Only compared to Bud drinkers and marmots.
 
2014-08-13 10:07:16 AM  
24.media.tumblr.com
 
2014-08-13 10:15:15 AM  
Drugs/Alcohol are so, like, cool.
 
2014-08-13 10:28:19 AM  
Don't anybody tell Koko about Lauren Bacall, she'll literally go apeshiat.
 
2014-08-13 10:39:52 AM  
milk that tragedy like a swollen teat.
 
2014-08-13 10:48:55 AM  

sleeps in trees: ChrisDe: Yeah, I'm calling bullshiat on this one.

I'm not.  The gorilla understands basic human emotions.  ie:  Your brother died.  I'm sad because I can see it was a life form and you loved it.  I'm not actually hurting but I'm sad because it was something you may have loved so as a social norm I tell you I'm "sad" (or I feel your pain).  It's the perfect fake human response.  Now if the gorilla said "Who, don't remember the dude... sorry, still don't remember, but sorry for your loss" I'd put credence into it.  Mind you I think it was a more human response for the gorilla to fake it.


The gorilla supposedly signed "woman" and "crying." Even in the best case - that they're fully and accurately reporting her response - that is nothing even approaching the kind of statements you're talking about.

(I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that the woman who "told" her was crying, or something similar. "Huh. You teary." OMG she's mourning Robin Williams!)

/and from what I've seen, they tend to read what they want into her gestures in the first place


Madame Ovary: Monkeyfark Ridiculous: I think there's a small kernel of interesting language experiment that underlies the Koko cottage industry, but she appears to be used mostly as a 400-lb ouija board.

It's reminiscent of listening to a crazy cat lady interpreting her pet's meowing.

I don't know. When I watched the original video with RV, it reminded me of interactions with my severely autistic son who is also nonverbal and loves to play chase/tickle games. There must be other value to the research with Koko.

My son wouldn't recognize RW from a video. I was impressive that Koko did. My son doesn't care about the death of anyone. He loves them when they are present but then they go. It is the nature of relying on low-wage caregivers, teachers, and therapists. My son would have been in the lap of RW.


Yeah, I think there's an interesting kernel of stuff going on with Koko and I agree in general there's value to research on the subject. I just think this particular animal's keepers lost the plot a long time ago.
 
2014-08-13 11:03:17 AM  
Is it possible the ape thought it was Robbie Williams?

Does the ape listen to music more or watch netflix more?
 
2014-08-13 11:23:27 AM  

Confabulat: [9news.static9.net.au image 603x338]


I don't know why but that reminds me of this.

static.fjcdn.com
 
2014-08-13 11:54:01 AM  
It might still be unproven whether apes can effectively communicate with humans, but I thought that it was well established that their vocalizations have meaning to each other, thus possibly being a very very basic form of language. Like Kanzi, for example, who is (supposedly) the best ape in the world at communicating with people, which he does through a series of pictures. In one experiment, he was shown yogurt, he "said" something, and another bonobo who couldn't see the yogurt then pointed at the picture for it. So, as long as that experiment could be replicated, they do "talk" to each other, at least.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/speaking-bonobo-1349315 41 /?no-ist=
 
2014-08-13 12:04:11 PM  
Only because his passing means that Koko is now officially the world's hairiest living celebrity.
 
2014-08-13 12:06:54 PM  

jchuffyman: It might still be unproven whether apes can effectively communicate with humans, but I thought that it was well established that their vocalizations have meaning to each other, thus possibly being a very very basic form of language. Like Kanzi, for example, who is (supposedly) the best ape in the world at communicating with people, which he does through a series of pictures. In one experiment, he was shown yogurt, he "said" something, and another bonobo who couldn't see the yogurt then pointed at the picture for it. So, as long as that experiment could be replicated, they do "talk" to each other, at least.


They may talk to each other, they just don't have shiat to say to us. Other then maybe, 'Hey asswipes, how about taking me the fark back home?'.
My guess is researchers will never stumble upon that conversation.
 
2014-08-13 12:10:52 PM  

Abe Vigoda's Ghost: jchuffyman: It might still be unproven whether apes can effectively communicate with humans, but I thought that it was well established that their vocalizations have meaning to each other, thus possibly being a very very basic form of language. Like Kanzi, for example, who is (supposedly) the best ape in the world at communicating with people, which he does through a series of pictures. In one experiment, he was shown yogurt, he "said" something, and another bonobo who couldn't see the yogurt then pointed at the picture for it. So, as long as that experiment could be replicated, they do "talk" to each other, at least.

They may talk to each other, they just don't have shiat to say to us. Other then maybe, 'Hey asswipes, how about taking me the fark back home?'.
My guess is researchers will never stumble upon that conversation.


My only problem with that sentiment is that if we are able to figure out that they talk, why couldn't they figure out those weird noises/gestures we make are the same thing? It would take them a little longer to do so of course, but I don't see anything theoretically wrong with apes knowing a few hundred words like is claimed for a few of them. It would need more study, however.
 
2014-08-13 02:17:25 PM  
I saw a show about ape sign language.  A pregnant lady that had worked with several sign-language-using apes lost her baby.  One of the apes came up to her and touched her flat belly and made the baby sign (where's baby?) and she told it the baby died and the ape signed that it was sad and hugged her.  It seemed pretty real to me.  If Koko remembered RW, she might have felt sad--or just felt sad that person telling her was sad.  Still a degree of empathy.
 
2014-08-13 03:08:46 PM  
Well I'm pretty sure gorillas are very upset by death when it's right in front of them. You can watch clips on YouTube of them reacting to deaths of their babies or mothers or group members. Same with chimps. There was that young spoiled boy ape whose mother Flo died unexpectedly and he refused to leave her corpse, and eventually died because he didn't eat or drink.

Whether Koko actually remembered Robin Williams and understood he was dead is another thing entirely.

Actually apes aren't the only animals who care ... ravens and elephants are also very upset by one of their relatives or group members dying. Ravens will not eat a dead raven, and won't touch a dead crow either, even if they're starving to death.
 
2014-08-13 08:41:55 PM  

sleeps in trees: I said not feeling but understanding for the secondary party.

I wasn't clear.  I still may not be but it's terribly hard to take you seriously whith your handle Mr. Monkeyfark Rediculous.



There's nothing about "woman"..."crying" that implies any understanding of the emotions of the second party either. Assuming it isn't just random noise, it appears to describe a physical occurrence, in precisely the same way that "woman"..."farting" does.

Just to be a little more clear myself, I have little doubt that gorillas experience recognizable emotions. I have little doubt that gorillas can communicate certain concepts using simple language.

However, I think Koko's owners seem more bullshiat-artist than scientist in their use of her. I think a lot of what they do includes selective reading and editing of her gestures (questionably interpreting and rearranging random noise alongside the gorilla's intentional symbols) and coaxing action from her (counting-horse style) which is effectively meaningless to the gorilla in context but can be used to build a narrative. And in this case, I suspect they're more-or-less just making it up to exploit Williams's death.

Even when it's on video, if you got enough footage and the handlers did enough "work," you could edit it to make it look like Koko is asking to apply for a job at NASA because she has some ideas for a Mars rover that she'd like to develop further. I just don't think that would very likely be what was actually happening.

So: I am skeptical of their claims that -- because at some point they supposedly got those two words out of her in the same sentence (or minute? or hour?) while they supposedly showed her something about Robin Williams (and because they are subjectively reading exactly the emotion they want to see in their pet's face) -- Koko was actually "saddened" by Robin Williams's death.

/thanks for your comment on my stupid fark handle; you've got me there, Mr. sleeps in trees
 
2014-08-13 10:00:02 PM  

sleeps in trees: FTFM.  You know... talking about an ape's emotions and your handle, get it?  Aww whatever, I have an odd sense of humour.  Anthropomorphise, is the word that comes to mind.


Nah, it's cool, was kind of thinking of your handle in a similar way..
 
2014-08-14 02:38:28 AM  

Monkeyfark Ridiculous: sleeps in trees: FTFM.  You know... talking about an ape's emotions and your handle, get it?  Aww whatever, I have an odd sense of humour.  Anthropomorphise, is the word that comes to mind.

Nah, it's cool, was kind of thinking of your handle in a similar way..


*signs*
Get a branch, you two!
 
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