Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pussies Galore: Cats Are Taking Over the World

Well, they already rule the Internet; for example, Mara the cat's YouTube channel has over twice the video views of the US White House channel. Recently we learned that researchers at Google created an "artificial brain,"  a massively-parallel computer with 16,000 processors, and the first thing they did with it was?... Put it to work watching videos of cats on the web, training it to recognize the faces of cats.

William Langley, writing in the London Telegraph, inspired by the news that Hasbro is replacing the clothing-iron token in its classic Monopoly board game with a cat token, probes the mystery of how and why the domestic house cat, an animal lacking what economists call "specific utility" --- i.e., they are useless ---  has come to be such an iconic fixture in our global popular culture:

Beyond the hard-to-refute argument that they are the world’s most useless animals, cats appear to have everything going their way. In the past 20 years, they have overtaken dogs to become Britain’s most popular pet, relentlessly raised their social profile, and colonised the internet to such an extent that Google has now installed special programmes to monitor their advance.
For what can appear, at first acquaintance, to be a small, fur-coated, heat-seeking digestive tract that sleeps 16 hours a day, this is some achievement. Not that the cats show any signs of easing up. Last week they pulled off another significant coup in having the iron thrown out of the Monopoly set. To be replaced by… a cat.

It's a very funny article, worth a read. And check out the crazy antics of Maru, the Internet's most famous cat, in the video below.

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