Of Apes and Automobiles
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Illustration by Natka Bimer
Dreams and Visions

Of Apes and Automobiles

The Future of Self-Driving Cars
Łukasz Lamża
Reading
time 11 minutes

Your current car is the last one you’ll own. In 10 years, we’ll solely use fleets of autonomous vehicles. That’s really how it’ll be – unless human nature rebels.

A warm, sunny morning in Kibale National Park in Uganda. A few female chimpanzees walk lazily to a group of fruit trees. The dominant female climbs calmly up to the highest bough, and the rest sit lower down. The fruits higher up are larger and riper. Spread out proudly at the top of the tree, the chimp had to fight a long, brutal struggle for her spot; the symbol of her status.

Here’s another scene, from a different troop. We’re in a research camp run by Frans de Waal. For years, the dominant male here was Yeroen. At a certain moment, a young, ambitious chimpanzee called Nikkie started to push his way to the fore. Alongside various political operations and ritual combat, the two males undertook a peculiar type of rivalry, in which they made bloodless public demonstrations to show their masculine virtues. They bristled their fur, attacked imaginary opponents, and competed in lifting and moving aside increasingly heavy objects.

And one more story, this time about how the Italian researcher Elisabetta Visalberghi decided to play a joke on her chimpanzees. First, she patiently taught them how to use a device that dropped out a nut if they

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Planet of the Birds
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Illustration by Daniel Mróz. From the “Przekrój” archives (Issue 1594 from 1975)
Nature

Planet of the Birds

An Alternative Avian History
Adam Węgłowski

Ćwirek (Chirp) is an ordinary, grey representative of the cawmentariat, employed on a contract scribbled out by a chicken’s claw. He has no chicks, or any prospects of having them. Let’s make a discreet visit to his hollow tree.

In his first step, the Raven carved out the mountains and the lowlands. He fenced off the clouds, the granite peaks and the trenches of the sea. He swept the heat away from the ice floes. He ordered the clumsy creatures to come out: crocodiles, gorillas and crabs. And at dusk he cawed: “Let us crown creation with the kraptak, a caricature of the Raven! Kraptak! Spread through the forests! Clear the hornbeams and Carpathian spruces! Tease and embarrass the kangaroos and the aurochs! But kraptak,” the Raven cawed even more huskily, “I command you not to fly around the Mountain, where I reign. Yet kraptak headed toward the Mountain and the Raven thrashed him with thunder, knocked him to the ground, smote him with catastrophe…”

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