The experiment is absolutely ingenious -- it's a vending machine that rewards crows with food for depositing certain items inside. The experiment is based on operant conditioning, or the Skinner box method. Crows have an affinity for shiny objects, think money and jewelery, but they're also ravenous scavengers constantly on the hunt for food.
Imagine if you could learn to reward a crow with cheap peanuts in exchange for coins and jewelery he spotted while circling your neighborhood. Picture your sly feathered friend diving back down to the machine to make his deposit, hungry for a nibble from your bulk Costco nuts. At the end of the day, you go back to the dispenser, collect coins as well as the big diamond engagement ring and Chanel watch which you then auction on eBay.
If this works, it will be the ultimate get-rich-quick scheme that will literally cost you peanuts.
Joshua Klein of New York University did the project for his Interactive Telecommunications Program.
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