Bee Updated

The puns just write themselves!

Great news. Beekeepers showed up and have relocated the hive. They first showed up within minutes of me hitting publish on that earlier post. They spent a long time surveying the situation, undoubtedly because of where the hive was and also so they could do it right.

According to a coworker with beekeeping experience (they may have come due to him contacting the local beekeeping society) they were probably looking for the queen, so they could take her first.

Then this:

That’s a very brave and dedicated person operating a bee vacuum.

I don’t have a way to show you how high up they are. I tried here.

But that’s barely two stories. It’s over 16 stories up.

But, it’s a happy ending. Everyone is safe, and the bees have probably been released somewhere else by now.

 

 

 

 

 

Bees!

My day job is literally in Times Square. The address is 3 Times Square. Despite the grand-sounding name, the building is only a little over 15 years old.

Across the street, however, is a slice of history; One Times Square. What was, long ago, the New York Times Building.

It doesn’t look like this anymore. Now it looks like a large place to attach billboards.

Yes, there’s a building under there. This is the building the ball drops from on New Year’s Eve.

The view from my desk, on the 15th floor, is the western side of One Time Square.

That’s Godzilla’s shoulder in the foreground. I only packed my zoom lens today.

Why did I pack a zoom lens? Why is this blog post titled ‘Bees?’

Because there are bees on top on One Times Square!!!

(Click to see the full-size image. Use back to get back here.)

They seem to be building a nest on the tracks for the window washing equipment.

Which could get interesting, no?

I’ll keep any eye on this situation.

I hope you’ll beeeeee back.

(Sorry, Dad humor. Can’t resist.)

 

We Are Not Alone

The questions of whether or not other animals are sentient, and what
“sentience” really means, have been with us for a long time.

I spent a lot of time reading studying animal behavior, via independent reading, online courses, and classes. Most of this information doesn’t cross over into what consciousness is. When you focus on behavior, then you pretty much stick with inputs, outputs, and consequences. This constraint is a best practice; a critical technique when it comes to solving problems. Focus on what is right in front of you and what you need to know.

Dog pulls on leash. Dog gets where she wants to go. Stop letting her get where she wants unless she doesn’t pull.

Moreover, many respected behaviorists and ethologists will argue not just that we shouldn’t concern ourselves with whether or not animals are sentient and that we should assume not because we have no evidence.

They’ll argue this vigorously. Passionately. Vociferously.

Even though I have cut back my dog training to one or two classes a week (and am considering stopping that to focus on writing), I’m still a bit of a behavior geek. So this article on Ars Technica about training bees captured my attention.

I’ll embed the video here.

Is this evidence of sentience? Not necessarily. It’s a very sophisticated set of problem-solving skills. Bees seem to be able to model other bee’s behavior, and they appear to be able to take what they’ve learned and then adapt it to new situations.

These skills make sense in a creature whose primary task is to find stuff and bring it back.

What’s fascinating, to me at least, is how much sophistication is packed into a bee’s brain. I’ve been reading about brain-to-body size ratios (Corvids are a good example of that one), encephalization quotients, and a host of other measures in mammals and even cetaceans, but never any mention of insects before.

And, of course, there’s the whole question of what is consciousness? Does it exist, or is it just an artifact of a sophisticated input/output system? We already know that people can be “fooled” with a complex piece of code, are we just fooling ourselves about our selves?

For a long time, sentient animals and robots were the stuff of fantasy. More than a handful of religions need humans to be unique. If they’re not, then a lot of their built-in assumptions start to fall apart. These assumptions restrained research for a long time. A willingness to set them aside, as well as more sophisticated technology, is starting to show us that we’re not as unique as we think.

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