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iOS 14.5 Won't Actually Let You Change a Default Music Service

1 hour 15 min ago
It turns out that Apple's iOS 14.5 update won't actually let you change your default music service that you use with Siri. Engadget reports: Beta users had originally noticed that it appeared as if early versions of the update might allow you to change the default service that launches when you ask Siri to play a song. This meant that rather than specifying a third-party music app with each request, Siri would remember your preference and launch with the service you had originally specified. While all that still seems to be the case, TechCrunch reports that Apple has apparently "clarified" that it "doesn't consider this feature the equivalent to 'setting a default.'" That's because the feature relies on "Siri intelligence," which can track your music-listening habits over time and predict which app you're more likely to want at that moment. For users, that may certainly feel as if you've changed your default music player, but there's still no way to do that on iOS.

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Programmer Got a Minecraft Server Running On His Canon DSLR

1 hour 55 min ago
linuxwrangler shares a report from PetaPixel: A programmer who goes by the name Turtius has managed to install and run a Minecraft server on a Canon SL2 DSLR camera. Turtius was working on reverse-engineering Canon's network processor when he decided to try and see if it could be done. [You can view it in action here on YouTube]. It is important to note that the camera is just the server, not the client. The game itself is running on the computer, the "world" that is displayed in-game is simply connected to the camera. Theoretically, others could connect to the camera's network and join this same Minecraft server via their own computer. [...] The SL2 does seem to be at the limits of its capability, however, as Turtius says that it can barely make photos and videos in this state and sometimes will crash. He believes that if the camera processor were a bit more powerful, custom world generation could be supported. "It's avrcraft," Turtius explains on Reddit. "It's fully running on the camera. I reverse-engineered the network module used by Canon which just so happens to expose Unix-like sockets and integrated avrcraft with Magic Lantern. It's running a custom implementation provided by Canon's operating system and using custom code to interact with the stuff provided by Canon on a lower level." You can find the full source code here on GitHub. Just be warned that you could brick your camera if you try this yourself.

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Windows.com Bitsquatting Hack Can Wreak 'Unknown Havoc' On PCs

2 hours 33 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Bitflips are events that cause individual bits stored in an electronic device to flip, turning a 0 to a 1 or vice versa. Cosmic radiation and fluctuations in power or temperature are the most common naturally occurring causes. Research from 2010 estimated that a computer with 4GB of commodity RAM has a 96 percent chance of experiencing a bitflip within three days. An independent researcher recently demonstrated how bitflips can come back to bite Windows users when their PCs reach out to Microsoft's windows.com domain. Windows devices do this regularly to perform actions like making sure the time shown in the computer clock is accurate, connecting to Microsoft's cloud-based services, and recovering from crashes. Remy, as the researcher asked to be referred to, mapped the 32 valid domain names that were one bitflip away from windows.com. Of the 32 bit-flipped values that were valid domain names, Remy found that 14 of them were still available for purchase. This was surprising because Microsoft and other companies normally buy these types of one-off domains to protect customers against phishing attacks. He bought them for $126 and set out to see what would happen. Over the course of two weeks, Remy's server received 199,180 connections from 626 unique IP addresses that were trying to contact ntp.windows.com. By default, Windows machines will connect to this domain once per week to check that the time shown on the device clock is correct. What the researcher found next was even more surprising. "The NTP client for windows OS has no inherent verification of authenticity, so there is nothing stopping a malicious person from telling all these computers that it's after 03:14:07 on Tuesday, 19 January 2038 and wreaking unknown havoc as the memory storing the signed 32-bit integer for time overflows," he wrote in a post summarizing his findings. "As it turns out though, for ~30% of these computers doing that would make little to no difference at all to those users because their clock is already broken."

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Oakland Bans Leaf Blowers, Trimmers and Other Lawn Equipment That Rely on Combustion Engines

3 hours 15 min ago
Oakland has banned the use of leaf blowers, trimmers and other lawn equipment that rely on combustion engines, citing health and climate change concerns. From a report: The city says that the "significant health hazards" to users and residents from the discharge of particle matter and carbon monoxide lead to the decision, as well as unwanted noise pollution. The city recommends using electric or non-motorized options. The ban is included for commercial landscaping or gardening services as well as private usage.

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After Third Large Quake Near New Zealand, Tsunami Warning Issued; Tsunami Watch in Hawaii

3 hours 55 min ago
A major magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck roughly 600 miles northeast of New Zealand on Thursday afternoon, triggering concerns of a potentially damaging tsunami. From a report: It's the third major earthquake in less than eight hours on the Kermadec Fault, which passes east of New Zealand. A magnitude 7.3 hit near New Zealand early on Thursday, followed by a 7.4 about 560 miles to the north a few hours later. Tsunami waves of 10 feet or greater are possible in the Kermadec Islands, with 3 to 9 foot waves in French Polynesia. American Samoa, the Cook Islands , Fiji, New Zealand and the Pitcairn Islands can expect water levels fluctuating by up to three feet. A tsunami warning was issued for American Samoa as well. A tsunami warning is in effect for New Zealand. The country's National Emergency Management Agency tweeted "TSUNAMI WARNING issued following Kermadecs earthquake." DW adds: The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) had withdrawn an earlier tsunami warning after the first quake, saying the threat had passed, but authorities renewed the warning following the second and third quake. There were no immediate reports of serious damage or casualties.

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Three Top Russian Cybercrime Forums Hacked

4 hours 30 min ago
tsu doh nimh shares a report: Over the past few weeks, three of the longest running and most venerated Russian-language online forums serving thousands of experienced cybercriminals have been hacked. In two of the intrusions, the attackers made off with the forums' user databases, including email and Internet addresses and hashed passwords. Members of all three forums are worried the incidents could serve as a virtual Rosetta Stone for connecting the real-life identities of the same users across multiple crime forums. On Tuesday, someone dumped thousands of usernames, email addresses and obfuscated passwords on the dark web apparently pilfered from Mazafaka (a.k.a. "Maza," "MFclub"), an exclusive crime forum that has for more than a decade played host to some of the most experienced and infamous Russian cyberthieves. At the top of a 35-page PDF leaked online is a private encryption key allegedly used by Maza administrators. The database also includes ICQ numbers for many users. ICQ, also known as "I seek you," was an instant message platform trusted by countless early denizens of these older crime forums before its use fell out of fashion in favor of more private networks, such as Jabber and Telegram. This is notable because ICQ numbers tied to specific accounts often are a reliable data point that security researchers can use to connect multiple accounts to the same user across many forums and different nicknames over time. Cyber intelligence firm Intel 471 assesses that the leaked Maza database is legitimate.

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Chrome Switches Its Release Cycle for First Time in a Decade

5 hours 11 min ago
Google Chrome releases will soon arrive more frequently than ever. From a report:In an announcement today, Google said it is updating the Chrome release schedule for the first time in over a decade. For a cool 10+ years now, Chrome stable releases have shipped every 6 weeks with new features, security fixes, etc. With improvements to testing and release processes, Google has realized that it can shorten the release cycle and will do so in Q3 of this year. Starting with Chrome 94, Google will move to a 4-week milestone release cycle. Freaked out at the possibility that Google might break features, remove things you like, or cause other issues with so many releases? Don't worry, Google is also introducing an Extended Stable release that will see milestone updates every 8 weeks. Now, it will still get updates every 2 weeks to address "important issues," but none of the new features or all security fixes that the 4-week milestones see will be included.

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Most Life on Earth Will Be Killed by Lack of Oxygen in a Billion Years

5 hours 50 min ago
One billion years from now, Earth's atmosphere will contain very little oxygen, making it uninhabitable for complex aerobic life. From a report: Today, oxygen makes up around 21 per cent of Earth's atmosphere. Its oxygen-rich nature is ideal for large and complex organisms, like humans, that require the gas to survive. But early in Earth's history, oxygen levels were much lower -- and they are likely to be low again in the distant future. Kazumi Ozaki at Toho University in Funabashi, Japan, and Chris Reinhard at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta modelled Earth's climatic, biological and geological systems to predict how atmospheric conditions on Earth will change. The researchers say that Earth's atmosphere will maintain high levels of oxygen for the next billion years before dramatically returning to low levels reminiscent of those that existed prior to what is known as the Great Oxidation Event of about 2.4 billion years ago. "We find that the Earth's oxygenated atmosphere will not be a permanent feature," says Ozaki. One central reason for the shift is that, as our sun ages, it will become hotter and release more energy. The researchers calculate that this will lead to a decrease in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as CO2 absorbs heat and then breaks down. Ozaki and Reinhard estimate that in a billion years, carbon dioxide levels will become so low that photosynthesising organisms -- including plants -- will be unable to survive and produce oxygen. The mass extinction of these photosynthetic organisms will be the primary cause of the huge reduction in oxygen. "The drop in oxygen is very, very extreme -- we're talking around a million times less oxygen than there is today," says Reinhard.

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EU Sets 2030 Target To Produce Cutting-Edge Semiconductors

6 hours 30 min ago
The European Union is planning to produce its own advanced semiconductors by 2030, part of the bloc's plans to reduce "high-risk dependencies" on technology companies in the U.S. and Asia. From a report: Officials want to ensure that at least 20% of the world's cutting-edge semiconductors by value are produced in Europe by the end of the decade, according to a draft document obtained by Bloomberg. The document, which could still change, is due to be presented next week by the European Commission, the bloc's executive body. The EU has discussed potentially establishing a new foundry as part of a plan to boost semiconductor production in Europe, Bloomberg has reported previously. The EU wants to manufacture chips faster than the most efficient 5nm semiconductors made by industry leaders Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics. "A reduction in critical dependencies will enable the EU to become digitally sovereign and better able to assert European interests," the EU said in the document, which said its approach would seek to support "the open nature of the Internet." The so-called Digital Compass plan outlines the bloc's digital goals for the next decade. As part of that, it also aims to deploy 10,000 climate-neutral facilities to guarantee businesses have rapid access to data services, develop a computer with quantum acceleration by 2025 and cover populated areas in Europe with 5G by 2030. In addition, the EU said over the next decade it wants to double the number of unicorns, or companies with a valuation above $1 billion, by improving access to financing.

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Senators Call on FCC To Quadruple Base High-Speed Internet Speeds

7 hours 12 min ago
The federal government's definition of high-speed broadband has remained stagnant over the last six years, sitting at 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up since 2015. But faced with pandemic-fueled network loads and a new push for infrastructure spending, lawmakers are getting ready to upgrade that definition. In a letter to government leaders Thursday, a bipartisan group of senators called for a quadrupling of base high-speed broadband delivery speeds making 100Mbps down and 100Mbps up the new base for high-speed broadband. From a report: "Going forward, we should make every effort to spend limited federal dollars on broadband networks capable of providing sufficient download and upload speeds and quality," Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Angus King (I-ME), and Rob Portman (R-OH) wrote to the FCC and other agencies. "There is no reason federal funding to rural areas should not support the type of speeds used by households in typical well-served urban and suburban areas." The letter calls on the FCC and other agencies to change their definitions of "high speed broadband" to anything above 100Mbps down and 100Mbps up -- a shift that would prohibit the FCC from identifying an area as being served with broadband unless it met those speed criteria. It's a complete change of pace from the FCC under former Chairman Ajit Pai's leadership, which established the previous 25 / 3Mbps standard.

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Apple Faces EU Antitrust Charge on Spotify Complaint

7 hours 50 min ago
Apple could face an EU antitrust charge sheet in the coming weeks following a 2019 complaint by music streaming service Spotify, Reuters reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. From the report: The charge could force changes to Apple's lucrative business model, they said. The European Commission could send the statement of objections setting out suspected violations of the bloc's antitrust rules to Apple before the summer, one of the people said. The case is one of four opened by the EU competition enforcer into Apple in June last year. The EU charge sheet usually indicates whether a fine is merited and what companies have to do to halt anti-competitive practices.

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African Researchers Use Gene Editing and Other Tools To Breed Heartier Livestock

8 hours 25 min ago
wooloohoo shares a report: Livestock researchers in Africa are looking to genome editing and other new technologies to identify genes that could help them tame the spread of a parasite that spreads sleeping sickness in animals and humans. In addition to work aimed at eradicating African trypanosomiasis, scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi are using gene editing to introduce such desirable traits as heat tolerance and disease resistance into cattle and chickens, said Prof. Steve Kemp, program leader in livestock genetics at ILRI. However, he said the effort is still at the preliminary research stage. African animal trypanosomiasis is a parasitic disease that causes serious livestock losses due to anemia and lower reproduction rates, according to the Center for Food Security and Public Health. Losses in cattle are especially prominent, though other animals, including dogs, can also be affected. Untreated cases can be fatal, and the mortality rate is high in some outbreaks. "Eradicating African animal trypanosomiasis is extremely important as we estimate that Africa loses US$1 billion annually due to human and livestock diseases," Kemp said. The people keeping livestock have experienced huge losses due to animal diseases, said Abdikadir Mohamed, chief executive officer of the Kenya Livestock Marketing Council (KLMC). "This leads to people getting poorer. Some sickly animals are rejected during market days, yet they come from far to sell the livestock. There is also a security threat as herders go back with their livestock. We need to stop these persistent diseases by available technologies."

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UK Competition Watchdog Investigates Apple's App Store

9 hours 12 min ago
U.K. authorities have launched an investigation into Apple's App Store over concerns it has a dominant role that stifles competition and hurts consumers. From a report: The Competition and Markets Authority said Thursday it was looking into "suspected breaches of competition law" by Apple. The announcement adds to regulatory scrutiny of the iPhone maker's app distribution platform, which is also the subject of three antitrust probes by the European Union's executive Commission. Apple said the App Store is "a safe and trusted place for customers" and a "great business opportunity for developers." The investigation was triggered in part by complaints from app developers that Apple will only let them distribute their apps to iPhone and iPad users through the App Store. The developers also complained that the company requires any purchases of apps, add-ons or upgrades to be made through its Apple Pay system, which charges up to 30% commission. "Millions of us use apps every day to check the weather, play a game or order a takeaway," Andrea Coscelli, the authority's CEO, said in a statement. "So, complaints that Apple is using its market position to set terms which are unfair or may restrict competition and choice -- potentially causing customers to lose out when buying and using apps -- warrant careful scrutiny." The watchdog said it would consider whether Apple has a "dominant position" in app distribution for Apple devices in the U.K., and, if it does, whether the company "imposes unfair or anti-competitive terms on developers" that results in less choice or higher prices for consumers buying apps and extra.

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SpaceX Launches 60 New Starlink Satellites

9 hours 55 min ago
SpaceX has launched another batch of its Starlink satellites -- the usual complement of 60 of the low Earth orbit spacecraft, which will join the more than 1,000 already making up the existing constellation. This is the fifth launch of Starlink satellites for SpaceX this year, and the 20th overall. From a report: Earlier this year, SpaceX opened up Starlink access to anyone in a current or planned service area via a pre-order reservation system with a refundable up-front deposit. The company aims to continue launches like this one apace throughout 2021 in order to get the constellation to the point where it can serve customers over a much larger portion of the globe. SpaceX COO and President Gwynne Shotwell has previously said that the company expects it should have coverage over much of the globe at a constellation size of around 1,200 satellites, but the company has plans to launch more than 30,000 to fully build out its network capacity and speed. While SpaceX is making good progress on Starlink with its Falcon 9 launcher, it's also looking ahead to Starship as a key driver of the constellation's growth. Starship, SpaceX's next-generation launch vehicle currently under development in South Texas, will be able to deliver 400 Starlink satellites at a time to orbit, and it's also being designed with full reusability and fast turnaround in mind.

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Square To Buy Jay-Z's Music Service Tidal

10 hours 35 min ago
Square has agreed to buy a majority stake in Tidal, the streaming music service led by rapper Jay-Z, as part of an effort to expand the company's suite of financial tools to musicians and emerging artists. From a report: Square will pay $297 million in a mix of cash and stock to become Tidal's "significant majority" owner, though Jay-Z and Tidal's other existing artist-shareholders will retain some ownership in the company. Tidal will operate independently within Square, according to a company release, and Jay-Z will join Square's board of directors. "New ideas are found at intersections, and we believe there's a compelling one between music and the economy," Square Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey said in a prepared statement. Bloomberg News previously reported that Dorsey and Jay-Z, who are friends, had discussed a potential deal. It's not immediately clear how Square will help Tidal build its business, but there is a lot of overlap between the music industry and Square's existing market, which includes payments and commerce, says Jesse Dorogusker, the Square executive who will serve as interim leader of Tidal inside its new parent company.

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Biden Pushes EV Chargers As Six Utilities Plan a Unified Network

13 hours 35 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: US President Joe Biden has made the shift to electric vehicles an early focus of his administration. Days after his inauguration, he vowed to replace hundreds of thousands of federal civilian vehicles with electric versions. On Tuesday, Biden held a virtual meeting with CEOs from companies building charging infrastructure. The administration has set a goal to build more than 500,000 new electric vehicle charging stations by 2030. Also on Tuesday, a coalition of six electric utilities announced a new initiative that will help Biden achieve his goal. The companies are planning to build a "seamless network of charging stations" in and around the American South. The group plans to build chargers near major highways in every southern state, stretching as far west as Texas and as far north as Indiana, Ohio, and Virginia. This is not a joint venture. Each utility will build and run its own charging stations. But the goal is to make them appear to the customer as a unified network.

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Space Hurricane Seen Above Magnetic North Pole Was Raining Electrons

17 hours 35 min ago
The first space hurricane ever was spotted in August 2014, consisting of "an eddy of plasma, a type of superhot, charged gas found throughout the solar system," reports Business Insider. "And instead of rain, this storm brought showers of electrons." From the report: In August 2014, satellites observed a swirling mass with a quiet center more than 125 miles above the North Pole. The space hurricane was more than 620 miles wide and high in the sky -- it formed in the ionosphere, between 50 and 600 miles up. Lockwood and his coauthors used the satellite data to create a 3D model of the storm. The space hurricane lasted eight hours, swirling counterclockwise. The researchers said it had several spiral arms snaking out from its center, a bit like a spiral galaxy. By plugging the satellite data into a computer model, Lockwood and his collaborators were able to reproduce the storm and figure out what caused it. They found that charged particles emitted by the sun's upper atmosphere, the corona, were to blame. This steady stream of solar particles and coronal plasma is known as solar wind. It moves at about 1 million miles an hour. As solar wind reaches Earth, it encounters the planet's magnetic field. Earth has such a field because of the swirling liquid iron and nickel in its outer core, which gives rise to electric currents. The magnetosphere protects the planet from deadly radiation from the sun but also retains a tiny layer of plasma from that solar wind. Typically, solar winds glance off this protective sheath. But sometimes the incoming charged particles and plasma interact with either the trapped plasma or the electrical currents generating the field. Such interactions create disturbances in the magnetosphere. The 2014 space hurricane was one such disturbance. Usually, magnetic fields don't mix. But if they do come close, portions of the fields can get realigned and even merge, forming a new pattern of magnetic energy. That's what likely happened on the day of the space storm: An influx of solar wind energy formed a new pattern above Earth's magnetic north pole. The storm acted as a channel from space into Earth's atmosphere, funneling some electrons down past the planet's armor. This particle rain could have wreaked havoc on our high-frequency radio communications, radar-detection systems, or satellite technology, the study's authors said. That's because charged solar particles that seep through Earth's magnetic field can cause malfunctions in computers and circuitry on satellites and the International Space Station. Luckily, in this case, no issues were observed.

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US Issues Warning After Microsoft Says China Hacked Its Mail Server Program

Wed, 03/03/2021 - 22:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: The U.S. has issued an emergency warning after Microsoft said it caught China hacking into its mail and calendar server program, called Exchange. The perpetrator, Microsoft said in a blog post, is a hacker group that the company has "high confidence" is working for the Chinese government and primarily spies on American targets. The latest software update for Exchange blocks the hackers, prompting the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to issue a rare emergency directive that requires all government networks do so. CISA, the U.S.'s primary defensive cybersecurity agency, rarely exercises its authority to demand the entire U.S. government take protective steps to protect its cybersecurity. The move was necessary, the agency announced, because the Exchange hackers are able "to gain persistent system access." All government agencies have until noon Friday to download the latest software update. In a separate blog post, Microsoft Vice President Tom Burt wrote that the hackers have recently spied on a wide range of American targets, including disease researchers, law firms and defense contractors. There was no immediate indication that the hack led to significant exploitation of U.S. government computer networks. But the announcement marks the second instance in recent months that the U.S. scrambled to address a widespread hacking campaign believed be the work of foreign government spies.

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SpaceX Mars Prototype Rocket Nails Landing For the First Time, But Explodes On Pad

Wed, 03/03/2021 - 21:02
A SpaceX rocket prototype, known as SN10, soared over South Texas during test flight Wednesday before swooping down to a pinpoint landing near its launch site. Approximately three minutes after landing, however, multiple independent video feeds showed the rocket exploding on its landing pad. CNN reports: SpaceX's SN10, an early prototype of the company's Starship Mars rocket, took off around 5:15 pm CT and climbed about six miles over the coastal landscape, mimicking two previous test flights SpaceX has conducted that ended in an explosive crash. Wednesday marked the first successful landing for a Starship prototype. "We've had a successful soft touch down on the landing pad," SpaceX engineer John Insprucker said during a livestream of the event. "That's capping a beautiful test flight of Starship 10." It was unclear what caused the rocket to explode after landing, and the SpaceX livestream cut out before the conflagration. He added that SpaceX has several other prototypes already in production and the next, SN11, will be ready to roll out for another test flight 'in the near future." SpaceX's first launch attempt on Wednesday, around 3 pm CT, was aborted at the last tenth of a second. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet that the abort was triggered by pre-set standards around the rocket's thrust, which Musk described as "slightly conservative." He added that the company would increase the rocket's thrust limit, giving the rocket more wiggle room for getting a go-ahead for liftoff. The company then recycled the SN10's fuel ahead of the second, successful attempt.

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Cephalopod Passes Cognitive Test Designed For Human Children

Wed, 03/03/2021 - 20:25
mi shares a report from ScienceAlert: The marshmallow test, or Stanford marshmallow experiment, is pretty straightforward. A child is placed in a room with a marshmallow. They are told, if they can manage not to eat the marshmallow for 15 minutes, they'll get a second marshmallow, and be allowed to eat both. This ability to delay gratification demonstrates cognitive abilities such as future planning, and it was originally conducted to study how human cognition develops; specifically, at what age a human is smart enough to delay gratification if it means a better outcome later. Because it's so simple, it can be adjusted for animals. Obviously you can't tell an animal they'll get a better reward if they wait, but you can train them to understand that better food is coming if they don't eat the food in front of them straight away. [...] The researchers found that all of the cuttlefish in the test condition decided to wait for their preferred food (the live shrimp), but didn't bother to do so in the control group, where they couldn't access it. "Cuttlefish in the present study were all able to wait for the better reward and tolerated delays for up to 50-130 seconds, which is comparable to what we see in large-brained vertebrates such as chimpanzees, crows and parrots," the researchers said. The other part of the experiment was to test how good the six cuttlefish were at learning. They were shown two different visual cues, a grey square and a white one. When they approached one, the other would be removed from the tank; if they made the "correct" choice, they would be rewarded with a snack. Once they had learnt to associate a square with a reward, the researchers switched the cues, so that the other square now became the reward cue. Interestingly, the cuttlefish that learnt to adapt to this change the quickest were also the cuttlefish that were able to wait longer for the shrimp reward. The team's research has been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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