Lauren Goode: Yeah, I have Pets.com.
Michael Calore: Yeah, I saw your tats.
Lauren Goode: All right, let’s take another quick break, and when we come back, we’re going to give you our very human-generated recommendations.
Lauren Goode: All right, Will, as our guest of honor, what’s your recommendation this week?
Will Knight: OK, I wasn’t really prepared, so I’ve pulled this out of some recess of my brain. I was wondering the other day whether the cat circus that I went to with my nieces was still touring. The original name was the Amazing Acro-cats. It was started by this lady who somehow figured out that her cat was able to perform tricks in return for treats. And she’s grown this into an empire of a traveling cat show, basically. And it’s as chaotic as you’d imagine, with the cats in the audience. And she even has, I think, a groundhog and a chicken doing various things. But I highly recommend it, it is very fun and yeah, it’s just great to see some lower forms of intelligence as we’re worrying about AI. We still have dominion over these kinds of small, lesser intelligence.
Lauren Goode: Do we really though?
Will Knight: We probably don’t know. It’s true. Good point.
Michael Calore: As long as they don’t have thumbs, then we’re fine.
Will Knight: Some cats do. I hate to break it to you, but they do. We’re screwed.
Michael Calore: But what if one of my cats—
Will Knight: But some cats have little thumbs. They’re not really opposable.
Michael Calore: Yeah, one of my cats has double dewclaws. She’s polydactyl. She has two dewclaws. So she has these big thumb-looking things in the back of her front paws. It’s very disconcerting.
Will Knight: That’s cool.
Lauren Goode: Yeah, my cat doesn’t have thumbs, but he still messes stuff up, including my legs. By the way, we’re all cat people here. All of us in this room. This is now a ….
Michael Calore: This is, meow, a podcat.
Lauren Goode: And so where can people see the Amazing Acro-cats?
Will Knight: So I look this up and they are currently touring in Texas, so you have to travel to Texas. But I would think it’s a good reason to go to Texas, and let’s just hope they start touring.
Lauren Goode: I think according to their website, they are going to be touring elsewhere—Denver, Colorado, and Minneapolis and Madison, Wisconsin—later this year, this summer.
Will Knight: All the hotspots.
Lauren Goode: But you can also watch them on YouTube.
Will Knight: That’s true. That’s true. Yeah.
Lauren Goode: Not the same, but how many cats are there?
Will Knight: Oh, over a dozen. And I remember the woman saying anything that has a brain and a food drive, you can train. So this is reinforcement learning is what it is.
By Wired, March 26, 2023