Re: Why Not Planet of the Apes?
Sun, 8 Jun 1997 22:26:52 -0400 (EDT)

In a message dated 97-06-08 17:21:56 EDT, Robin Hanson writes:

> So why is it exactly that we haven't trained such monkeys to do real
> jobs around in our society? Couldn't they be trained to be security
> guards, to sweep streets, to wash cars, or to run machines in
> factories? Yes language is important for many jobs, but for all jobs?
> Sure they like to be with each other, but couldn't teams of monkeys
> work together?
> I'm honestly puzzled here.

There have been some fairly in-depth attempts to train macaques as
aid-animals for humans with sensory and motor handicaps, with only mixed
results, at best. All the animals had to have their canine teeth removed and
a majority have been unable to maintain their usefulness after puberty.
(Based on hazy memories from the Primate-Talk list server from about a year

It seems to me that it is the very intelligence of primates that works
against the possibility of using them as domesticated animals. Having had
the opportunity to observe a prosimian at close quarters for a few years, I
can say that the overpowering curiosity and playfulness of our primate
cousins just isn't compatible with any sort of work habits: They're too
damned smart to be put in harness and, after puberty, can't be said to be
"docile" in any setting but one where humans are willing to accomodate their
wild nature. Note that the successes with chimps and gorillas in language
study arises from INTENSE social interaction with a few humans who adapt to
the natural behavior patterns of their subjects and have been able to make
the work seem like social play, the thing that all primates are most
interested in.

Short of genetically engineering some of these basic behavior patterns, I
don't think there's any money to be had in monkey business.

BTW, remember the genetically engineered "super chimps" in Clarke's short
story about the dirigible?

Greg Burch <>----<>
Attorney ::: Director, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
~~~ EXpedition97, an extropian backpacking trip, July 3-7, 1997: ~~~
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