Anthropologists once defined humanity as by our use of tools. That distinction has been debunked numerous times by other animals who use tools to find food. Animals adapt to their surroundings. And this African Gray parrot has mastered the use of a modern technology, and seems quite pleased with her tool use.
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Her name is Petra. The video below shows Petra experimenting with an Amazon Alexa. Like many kids who play with the new device, Petra seems to be testing cause and effect. Alexa is all-too-ready to respond.
When the talking bird asks Alexa to turn on the lights, the lights come on.
“Alexa, all lights on,” Petra says. And the lights come on. Then the bird does a celebratory dance.
Petra tries out some other phrases, too. “Do you want fresh water?” She asks. “What do you want?” “Say you’re sorry.”
The bird doesn’t get the results from the other questions, but the lights come on and that’s enough. She’ll soon be ordering new feed, a new perch, and maybe even some friends.
And she has a while to master the Alexa, too. African Grays can live to be 60. No word on how old Petra is. The birds are clearly intelligent. Many claim their use of language is simple mimicry. Yet Petra appears to be using language to achieve a desired result.