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Cheep Deception

An update to that farm AI story!

Last week I ran a story in This Week in Sound (“A Sharp, Short ‘Cheep'”) about an AI trained to identify distressed chickens by their cheeps. A reader (Cam Larios, who does the excellent account, though we actually corresponded on Mastodon) sent me this anecdote:

A note about chickens and alarm calls: chickens are scoundrels. They’re smart enough to lie to each other.

I never saw her do this as an adult, but when a chicken we named Trouble was a young pullet, she learned that if she gave an alarm call, she could beat the bigger, faster pullets to any treats that were being offered. Trouble was an unusual critter, for sure, but deception has been well established in chickens in lab studies.

I admit to hoping that the chickens somehow find it worthwhile to outwit the emotion monitoring machines.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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