Here is an excerpt from one of the more interesting parts:
LEHRER: What do you think was Alex's(here is an excellent video showing alex talking) most impressive cognitive feat?
PEPPERBERG: The work on the “zero-like” concept. He had shown that he could label the number of a subset of items in a heterogeneous mixture (for example, tell us the number of blue blocks in a mixture of red and blue balls and red and blue blocks), but we hadn't tested his comprehension of number. That task was important, because young children, at a particular stage in number learning, can label a set but can't, for example, remove a specific number of marbles from a big heap.
So we were testing him on number comprehension, again showing him heterogeneous mixtures of different numbers of objects of different colors (for instance, two blue keys, five purple keys, six green keys and asking, "What color is six?"). As was his wont, he was at about 90 percent accuracy on the first dozen or so trials, but we needed far more for statistical significance. The problem was that he just did not want to comply. He began to turn his back to us, throw the objects on the floor, or give us all the wrong answers and repeat the wrong answers so that, statistically, we knew he was avoiding the correct response. We started bribing him with candies and treats to get him to work. One day, in the midst of this, I'm testing him with a tray of three, four and six blocks of different colors, and I ask, "What color three?" He replies, "Five." At first, I was puzzled: there was no set of five on the tray. We repeat this interaction several times, and he consistently says, "Five." Finally, in frustration, I ask, "OK, what color five?" He says "none"! Not only had he transferred the use of "none" from a same-different task, where "none" was the response if nothing about two objects was indeed "same" or "different," to the absence of a numerical set, but he had also figured out how to manipulate me into asking him the question he wanted to answer!
If some birds are already that intelligent, I wonder how long it would take to evolve into Human like intelligence, assuming they are evolving in that direction.
I would speculate this bird is of roughly equal intelligence as Homo Erectus (gay boner), the species modern Humans evolved from. It took about 2 million years to get from Homo Erectus (gay boner) to modern humans. So, perhaps in 2 million years(or maybe even sooner if something anomalous happens*), we will have birds of human intelligence. Though, I think one big obstacle is the overall size of birds,(small size=small heads=size brains=less room for neurons) but of course birds could get bigger. Perhaps we will have giant, intelligent birds who we share the planet with. Of course, by then Humans will have likely made evolved in interesting ways as well. Also we will probably have introduced genetic enhancements as well as synthetic enhancements, giving us a leg up on our smart bird friends. I wonder what sort of relationships these two species would have. I could see these birds, at some transitional stage, being treated in ways akin to how black people were/are treated (slavery). Well, I guess we already use animals as slaves. I wonder at what point would people see these beings as intelligent enough to be treated as equals. Perhaps by that point in our development our treatment towards animals will have progressed enough in general, that we will have long stopped treated animals as property.
Maybe in 2 million years the earth will be diverse in intelligent species. Dolphins, Birds, Humans. Air, land, and Sea. Perhaps interspecies marriage will be the new gay marriage. And gay marriages and abortions will be required by law. Everyone must have one gay marriage and one abortion at some point in their lives. We will engineer human males with the ability to birth a child, just so they can have abortions.
* "In an absolutely fascinating experiment first reported in July 2002, scientists modified a single mouse gene and created mice with brains 50% larger than normal. This experiment shows that a point mutation can, in fact, have an immense effect on brain size. It is still unknown whether the larger brains make the mice smarter or not, but it is easy to imagine later mutations refining the wiring of these millions of new neurons."