File this under the heading that it’s not only people who are strange.
In my “day off” yesterday, I ran into a pair of interesting videos about economics in the monkey community. That last isnot a sentence I every thought I might type in my lifetime, but it is proof that the world is a strange and wonderful place. Anyway, in both cases, researchers taught monkeys how to use money to pay for various products and then let them loose to purchase things they cared about. In the end, you find that they operate pretty much exactly as humans do–including some things that were a bit, uh, well, things that show that us humans are not so unique in the way we think about things.
Here’s the first, from a Freakonomics Radio movie. It’s pretty quick–only 5 minutes. It discusses basic economics and ends with social ramifications of the kinds of things a thinking species might do in societies that get focused on acquiring currency.
And here’s a more in-depth discussion (runs 20-some minutes) that explores what I think of as human risk processing. While I don’t like the speaker’s suggestion that our financial decisions are “dumb,” I think the basic concept behind the findings are quite interesting to think about.
I came around to both of these in a case of some serendipity, as I’ve been bouncing a story idea in my head that has economic and currency issues. So they really have me thinking. How far can they go? Can they understand interest? Could they start saving? How about banking, and stocks, and all those weird market derivatives?
Or how about this? How about we give them access to Amazon.com? The Monkey Market. Perhaps, it’s the next new growth area, eh? [grin]