The study is called “Pigeon as a machine.” Researchers from the University of Iowa and Ohio University found that the mechanism pigeons use to make decisions is similar to the method artificial intelligence models use to make correct predictions. That is, they are not as stupid as they seem.

In fact, pigeons turned out to be particularly skilled classifiers of very complex and varied visual stimuli, the study authors emphasize. These stimuli range from photographs of everyday objects – flowers, trees, dogs, phones and shoes – to medical images – breast tissue or human heart muscle. These birds were able to recognize printed numbers and letters and even works of art painted by Monet.

This ability of pigeons to understand abstract concepts suggests that “We should give pigeons and other birds much more respect than they usually receive.” according to a research report published last September in the journal iScience. After all, sending long-distance correspondence is not an easy task.

The researchers found that a simple association mechanism may be enough to explain the success of these animals. To test this, the team gave a group of 24 pigeons various visual tasks. Animals learned to classify some of them in a matter of days, while others took weeks.

How did the study equating pigeons with artificial intelligence go?

They showed the pigeons different stimuli on different monitors: lines of different widths, locations and orientations, as well as sectional and concentric rings. To decide which category they belonged to, each bird had to peck at a touch screen: there was a button on the right and another on the left. If they did everything correctly, the distributor gave out the food. If they were wrong, they were left with nothing.

“Pigeons don’t need a ruler,” said Brandon Turner, lead author of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State University. The keeper. They learn by trial and error. For example, when they were given a particular image, they would put everything that looked similar into the same category.

Pigeons have improved their abilities make 55% to 95% correct decisions times when it came to simpler tasks. Its accuracy has increasedFrom 55% to 68% when it comes to more complex tasks.

“The pigeons’ behavior suggests that nature has created an algorithm that is very effective at learning very complex tasks,” said Edward Wasserman, co-author of the study and professor of experimental psychology at the University of Iowa. Of course: “Not necessarily with the greatest speed, but with great consistency.

Paloma and her similarities to artificial intelligence.
Illustration of a pigeon performing a category learning task completed by researchers.

How are they similar to artificial intelligence?

The main goal of the artificial intelligence model recognizes patterns and makes decisions. ChatGPT, for example, is based on learning to predict the next word in a sentence by processing huge amounts of text from the Internet and finding patterns through trial and error. The famous chatbot was then refined using human feedback to keep the conversation going.

Research shows pigeons can do the same. When they were not given food, they could realize their mistake and correct their decision. And so, continue to look for similarities in the visualized objects.

“Only with these two mechanisms can you identify a neural network or artificial intelligence machine that will basically solve these categorization problems,” Turner said. The keeper. “It makes sense that the mechanisms present in artificial intelligence are also present in the pigeon.”

Researchers will continue to study these birds along with other groups. The long-term goal is to better understand human brain damage. Wasserman emphasized that the pigeon brain is “a very good brain”: “It may be small in size, but it has enormous power when it comes to the ability to learn.”

Source: Hiper Textual

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