This was sitting as a draft from 2009 so I figured what the hell why not publish it.
Just a quick passing thought. As I was reading this article on wired I started thinking about tool users in terms of software.
Many of us look down upon such users but is this a correct viewpoint?
As many who are close to me know I have in the last few years I have really moved away from the viewpoint that anything is “good”. Something can only be good or bad within a context.
One comment in particular struck me as particularly interesting in this article:
Burrowing owl bait. In order to attract its favorite beetle prey, burrowing owls collect mammal dung, then spread it around the entrance to their homes.
As with many animal tool behaviors, it’s not clear whether the owls are
acting out an instinctive sequence of actions, or consciously deciding
to collect the dung. Either way, though, those dung balls are tools.
Have you ever felt this way watching your nearest tool user? Are they instinctively going through a sequence of actions or are they consciously doing it? The other side of this would be the cargo cult. If the beetles were to go extinct would the owls still be putting dung balls outside?