Are Dogs outsmarting human primates?

I just love the intelligence of nature, behaving as a complex adaptive system, working with minimal effort to a beneficial solutions.
As such, nature often behaves smarter than self-conscious human primates, without going into dificult reasoning and decision making processes.

A great text putting this fact into evidence is the 2012 lecture “The dog and the frisbee“. Andrew G Haldane, Executive Director, Financial Stability, Economist, Bank of England starts the paper:

Catching a frisbee is difficult. Doing so successfully requires the catcher to weigh a complex array of physical and atmospheric factors, among them wind speed and frisbee rotation. Were a physicist to write down frisbee-catching as an optimal control problem, they would need to understand and apply Newton’s Law of Gravity.
Yet despite this complexity, catching a frisbee is remarkably common. Casual empiricism reveals that it is not an activity only undertaken by those with a Doctorate in physics. It is a task that an average dog can master. Indeed some, such as border collies, are better at frisbee-catching than humans.
So what is the secret of the dog’s success? The answer, as in many other areas of complex decision-making, is simple. Or rather, it is to keep it simple.

Catching a crisis, like catching a frisbee, is difficult.

Andrew Haldan – The dog and the frisbee

The concluding paragraphs are a clear indication towards the human primates:

Regulation […] is complex, almost certainly too complex.
That configuration spells trouble.
As you do not fight fire with fire, you do not fight complexity with complexity. Because complexity generates uncertainty, not risk, it requires a regulatory response
grounded in simplicity, not complexity.
Delivering that would require an about-turn from the regulatory community from the path followed for the better part of the past 50 years. If a once-in-a-lifetime crisis is not able to deliver that change, it is not clear what will.

To ask today’s regulators to save us from tomorrow’s crisis using yesterday’s toolbox is to ask a border collie to catch a frisbee by first applying Newton’s Law of Gravity.

Those who remain sceptic, the knowledge of dogs in optimisation has been spotted before.
In 2003, Timothy Pennings already pointed out: Do Dogs Know Calculus?

Elvis did not have the time to calculate or the necessary data to perform his task.
A better knowledge of mathematical analysis would not help him.

Some reactions on this paper were very amusing:
In stead of tryning to understand the simplicity being used by the dog, mathematicians (assumed to be a kind of subspecies of human primates) discussed the kind of mathematics being “used” by the dog; concluding: dogs don’t need calculus; but missing the point.)

One response to “Are Dogs outsmarting human primates?”

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