Christian Long

Jane Goodall: What Separates Us From the Apes

In TED Talks on May 20, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Reflection by KEITH C.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Jane Goodall:  What Separates Us From the Apes


Jane starts off her talk with explaining how she actually had come to the ted conference directly from deep inside the rainforest of Ecuador. This in itself is very interesting to me, a woman of her age with the desire to go places like that. She also explained how she met up with people that had paint on their faces and feather in their headdresses. The people are fighting to keep the oil companies off of their roads and out of their forest. The thing that interest me the most about these people is that they are fighting to keep their way of life. They are fighting to protect their uncontaminated land. The talk just get even more interesting when Jane explains how in the forest, the first solar panels are now in use. These are being used to purify and pump the water up to the villages so women would not have to go down and get it. These villages also had several batteries that allow them to have light for half an hour each evening. Then tells a funny story of how she saw the chief, with his headdress, sitting down with a laptop. This is so interesting because while the tribe is still trying to keep its origins and culture, but at the same time it is trying to keep up with technology. These people want to know about the new advances and new technology such as health care. You can only imagine how perplexed and confused these people must be with this new technology, especially when Jane explains how it was only fifty years ago that these people first knew of the ‘white men’ and now they are using laptops. These people also want to learn multiple languages.

Later on in the video, Jane also talks about how this new technology is being used to educate nonhuman animals such as chimpanzees. One chimpanzee in particular Ai, meaning love, has a fascination with her computer. When I first heard this I was somewhat confused as to why a Chimpanzee would need to have its own computer. It seems a little unnecessary to me. Jane then talks about how Ai loves go and play on this computer that she has. Her computer is a simply screen that is a touch pad that Ai can play with like a video game. According to Jane, when Ai plays these games, she can not stand making any mistakes. When Ai makes a mistake or gets a bad score, she immediately starts over and tries again. Once I heard this I started to understand why Ai had her own computer. Why would a chimpanzee care what score it got on some computer game? To me this seems like a major break through in the way we think about animals and the way they think. If technology like the computer that Ai has is allowing us to learn more about animals and the way they behave, I see it as absolutely necessary.

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