Senior lecturer, university d’Aukland, New-Zeland
What can birds teach us about the evolution of intelligence?
Over the past decade birds have shown the ability to produce problem-solving performances that rival those of our closest relatives, the great apes. This opens up the exciting possibility that birds have convergently evolved minds that think in similar ways to primates, despite the starting point for this evolutionary trajectory being a brain with a radically different structure from the mammalian brain. I will discuss three recent findings from my lab that provide evidence that birds i) mentally represent problems, ii) are intrinsically motivated to produce certain complex behaviours and iii) are capable of domain-general thought. This research has a number of interesting implications for both the evolution of intelligence and the creation of artificial intelligence.