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Come to You No. 2, Farewell, and Love Feelings, paintings by ZhiYong Jing © The artist

Artificial intelligence researchers estimated that, among categories of domestic labor, grocery shopping is the most automatable and childcare the least. Japanese subjects rated human-in-the-loop AI-generated haiku as superior to those written entirely by AI or by humans, and information scientists argued that AIs need to be taught not to plagiarize. The claustrum is unlikely to be the seat of consciousness. Bluestreak cleaner wrasse fish will attack photos of unfamiliar fish faces but not of themselves; they will also, if shown a photo of a parasite-like mark on their throats, attempt to remove it. Researchers proposed that animal consciousness is neither a binary proposition nor a continuous gradation but an assemblage of qualities: perceptual richness, evaluative richness, evaluative intensity, external synchronic unity, and external diachronic unity; self-synchronic unity, self-diachronic unity, experience of agency, and experience of ownership; reasoning, learning, and abstraction. “It is not necessarily worthwhile to ask whether a mouse has more consciousness than an octopus,” said the lead author of the study.

Scientists observed the brain waves of freely moving day octopuses for the first time by implanting sensors and data loggers inside their brains and mantles. A roboticist attempting to model the complex and wide-ranging movements of octopus arms observed that “the arm rests at the minimum of an energy landscape.” A fellow researcher noted, “Upstream, there are biologists who perform experiments on octopuses. Downstream, there are roboticists who are taking these mathematical ideas and applying them to real soft robots.” Male owners of sex dolls are more likely to see women as unknowable and the world as dangerous. Other studies found that men who treat female sex dolls as partners rather than as toys tend to exhibit greater objectification and hostility toward human women; that male and female torso sex dolls, unlike genital sex dolls, require a degree of symbolic social interaction; and that indications of the proclivity for abusing human children among owners of child-like sex dolls are mixed. Whereas in the late Nineties singing male humpback whales off Queensland’s Peregian Beach were twice as likely as non-singing males to be observed attempting to mate, by 2015 non-singing males had become five times as likely to try to mate as singing males. Australian scientists who played sounds for snakes found that woma pythons tend to move toward pink noise while death adders tend to move away. Researchers modified the genes of bee eggs to create seven transgenic queens who, when instrumentally inseminated, produced worker-caste descendants whose brains fluoresce in proportion to the intensity of their neural activity. Fibroblast growth factor 21 stops drunken mice from stumbling.

The crowdsourced collection of dead hedgehogs by Danes (whose teeth, among the long-dead, revealed recurrent plague reintroduction between 1333 and 1649) showed that male hedgehogs are likelier to die while crossing the road. Mongolian gerbils who receive semicircular canal fenestration in their left inner ears offer a successful animal model for superior semicircular canal dehiscence. A noble false widow ate a pygmy shrew in West Sussex, and the deaths of two kits who were released into Loch Lomond were blamed on an otter. Officials investigated whether the abduction of two tamarin monkeys from the Dallas Zoo who were later found in a suburban closet was connected to the escape of a clouded leopard and the suspicious death of a lappet-faced vulture, or to the kidnapping of twelve squirrel monkeys in Louisiana. Untrained humans can identify the meanings of common chimpanzee and bonobo gestures, and Nagasaki zookeepers concluded that Momo, a twelve-year-old white-handed gibbon, had become pregnant by Ito, a thirty-four-year-old agile gibbon, through a nine-millimeter hole in a steel plate between their cages.

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August 2023

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