Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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"Operator, get me Bagheera!"

I can trade with the animals
  (+21, -4)(+21, -4)
(+21, -4)
  [vote for,

I was reading an article about orangutans using tools (they were previously thought too stupid or something). And it occurred to me that if we had encountered these animals on another planet, we would be doing what we always do: selling something to them.

So this idea is just that: retail trade with the animals. If we can sell mobile phones to five-year-olds, I'm sure that elephants could master them. Those orangutans, trying to poke out insects out of trees using sticks, how much better off would they be with power tools? The dolphins could really do with something to cut their way out of errant fishing nets (though I have to admit I am a little hazy on quite how they would operate it - maybe just a voice activated alert to bring rescuers?). And whales, I am sure, could use some torpedoes to better protect themselves from those relentless Japanese whalers.

Now, of course, the animals would need something of value to trade for these goods. Dolphins are easy: they could patrol fishing grounds to deter sharks and other predators, or locate schools of fish for trawlers. Elephants, too, might patrol game reserves, and monitor poachers and other problems with their new cell phones. The great apes, I don't know, there's probably something they could harvest for us, in an eco-friendly way. The whales, geez, maybe piracy. Or a singing career as pop stars.

You might object that we are reducing the animals' status by bringing them into the demand economy, but they would actually be much better off. Right now, their position is at best slaves, at worst meat. Money can buy them real protection - land rights, guards, casinos, etc. - that they completely lack in their present condition.

P.S. Trading does not require that we can clearly communicate: witness the ancient salt/gold trades - one side would leave their goods at the trading place and go away; the other would desposit the amount of goods they thought fair exchange. If the first side thought it was enough, they would take the traded goods, otherwise they would leave them for the second side to increase the amount. This way, two blood-thirsty tribes without a common language were able to avoid misunderstandings over attempted communication, and still trade to their mutual profit.

P.P.S. tc: ask an African American about that equation: you're talking slavery, not barter.

P.P.S. I saw an article about those capuchins in the NY Times, and that is why I am so confident we could make this work.

DrCurry, Nov 18 2005

symbiosis http://users.rcn.co...es/S/Symbiosis.html
I read somewhere that Orangutans are endangered <note to self> find article. [po, Nov 18 2005]

Trading with whales (symbiosis) http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/killers/
[Shz, Nov 18 2005]

Capuchins get fiscal. http://hyperstition...rchives/006815.html
[wagster, Nov 18 2005]

one in ten products on UK supermarkets contains palm oil http://www.foe.co.u...angutan_report.html
palm oil plantations are eradicating the orangutan's habitat and without urgent intervention to curb the palm oil trade, Asia's only great ape and our nearest relative will be extinct possibly within 12 years [po, Nov 18 2005]

Panda Corporation Panda_20Corporation
instead, incorporate animals and trade with them through the institutions of their corporate governance. [calum, Nov 22 2005]


       in a way we barter with domesticated animals, providing food and shelter
theircompetitor, Nov 18 2005

       //The whales, geez, maybe piracy. Or a singing career as pop stars.// The first thing they'd do would be to hold a cruise-liner to ransom for payment of royalties due on all those New Age CDs.
coprocephalous, Nov 18 2005

       I read an article recently about a couple of researchers who introduced capuchin monkeys to the idea of money and trade. They found that the capuchins not only 'got' the idea of money and trade, but also aquired the concept of fair and unfair deals and occasionally made irrational impulse buys as well. <googles> The original article in the New Scientist requires a subscription, but I've found a similar one about the same team (link).   

       I'm off now to invest in squeaky toys, I hear they're becoming quite valuable.
wagster, Nov 18 2005

       Animals which produce stuff would become rich, because they would be able to charge for it. Monaco would be renamed MonaCow...London would become LondHen etc....Prices for these goods would rise as we currently 'steal' them from the animals...   

       Imagine if racehorses could demand their share of the winnings! They would mostly be millionaires...
Minimal, Nov 18 2005

       Yeah, 'cause they wouldn't get much of a return from their glue shares.   

       But they could go large on the glue futures market.
coprocephalous, Nov 18 2005

       Without a form of language and story-telling, no creature is going to be able to avoid becoming enslaved/ignored by human beings. We're just too pushy. We train elephants, domesticate dogs, farm chickens etc - but all of these relationships, as healthy and as warm hearted as many of them are, are not made in the spirit of trade. And if those Orang Utans were aliens and we met them in a 1st contact situation, it wouldn't be long before we started nicking their trees and moving in on their patch - why? Because they wouldn't be able to tell their kids how annoyed they were at us - no rebellions would form, no knowledge about us would be disseminated, while our 1st contact period would last as long as it took to write it down and have someone else read about it, theirs would continue, forever to be a 1st contact situation, with none of the subsequent contactees being able to draw on the experiences of the previous ones.   

       I like the idea - i just don't think we're nice enough to implement it, and I don't think the animals are clever enough to stop us when we start taking more than our fair share.
zen_tom, Nov 18 2005

       Instead of trading with animal "individuals", maybe we could trade with species. This way, we could give those voice-activated alarms to wild dolphins as an exchange for their fellas working for us in sea worlds and aquariums around the world.
Pericles, Nov 18 2005

       Great link [wag] ..."The monkey’s appreciation for money even extends to trying to counterfeit it – by using slices of cucumber instead..."   

       Cracked me up, those sneaky little monkeys. :)
Zuzu, Nov 18 2005

       We have discussed monkeys, slavery, and problematic slave monkeys here before. I am all in favor of renewing this discussion.
bungston, Nov 18 2005

       Ha! As I see it, the *lack* of a well trained helper monkey has drastically cut down my cigarette and moon-pie consumption over the years, so I am grateful.   

       "Ok Buzu, I've pinned the list and money to your vest, now please pick me up a pack of smokes and a moon-pie, thanks. Oh, and don't forget to get yourself an apple." (Buzu would return with like 10 apples and a national geographic, so I had to let him go.)
Zuzu, Nov 18 2005

       [Zuzu] yep, I had a week of that monkey - hopeless. (Though, I am an avid reader of NG now) I replaced him for a trained sea bass, able to make all my decisions for me, communicating them through the medium of mime. After the divorce I discovered that Martin (the sea bass) wasn't trained in marital counselling at all, but instead was an expert in Bolivian tax law, but had been misunderstood during his interview. A terrible mess. Martin and I settled down to open a practice, and before we knew it we were raking in the cash. The rest is history.
zen_tom, Nov 18 2005

       About 20 million years ago, the dolphins had the same idea on their halfwettery, and some fool dolphin actually gave some tools to the monkeys.   

       The rest is history.
sophocles, Nov 19 2005

       //The rest is history.//
"Yadda, yadda, yadda...and we realized our monkey captors were actually from Earth all along."

       [zt] Yeah? Crazy. I oft-wondered what the hell happened to him. :)
Zuzu, Nov 19 2005

       [sophocles], I like that one.   

       I used to have a horse I could send to the store for beer, and because he hadn't figured out yet how to open them, I'd get a full six pack when he came back. I'd always give him one or two.   

       But either they were short changing him or he was short changing me...never did figure out which one it was.
normzone, Nov 19 2005

       What? That he has Stockholm Syndrome?
(couldn't resist, just kidding)
Zuzu, Nov 19 2005

       Sure, if you let two ferrets share a cell phone, you're one step closer to being Beast Master.
jellydoughnut, Nov 19 2005

       Garvey Ltd.

Hands for Dolphins, Bandersnatchi and Grog.
DrBob, Nov 20 2005

       I threw a hammer at our cat and it made a bolt for the door.
Ian Tindale, Nov 20 2005

       Why would the door need a bolt, and why didn't your cat just go to the hardware store and purchase the bolt?
sleeka, Nov 21 2005

       Not old enough for a credit card.
Ian Tindale, Nov 21 2005

       [po] Oh great. My choice of butter substitute uses palm oil. I wasn't aware of what you linked to. To hell with it. I'm switching back to real butter. The only dietarily healthy substitute apparently comes at the cost of increased rain forest destruction & probable species decimation of one of the few sentient species on the planet (which I did know of).
Zimmy, Nov 21 2005

       That's OK, you can just tell people you are gaining weight to save the orangutan's.
Zuzu, Nov 21 2005

       I'm confused. What, exactly do animals have to trade? The situation is like africa: Africans and the nations that exist in africa, are very poor. Why? Because the european nations and other countries sent expeditions to africa, looking for resources. And guess what? They found them. They found them, and then they took them. Mosat countries in africa are poor because all or most fo the resources in the area have been taken, or a large corporation is mining them out. To tell the truth, I don't know squat about africa, I only know this because I have seen some editorials about africa.   

       Heh, but I know everything about everything else, you should see me in Earth science class. =D   

       It boils down to this: whoever can gain enough wealth, and put it to good use, the fastest, is going to dominate. Europe simply 'figured out the world', so to speak, faster than anybody else. Intelligence > brute force 9/10 time. For example you have the dominant nation, and this dominant nation discovers a new group of people who are slightly different. Let's call the 'different people' the Diff's, and the Dominant nation the 'Dom's'. The Diff's own large amounts of precious resources, while the Dom's are greedy and looking for more wealth to acquire. The Diff's know next to nothing in actualy facts, they believe in a theology and would, over time, eventually outgrow this theology and become scientifically progressive just like their Dom counterparts. Thing is, the Dom's already did this, and now want the resources of the Diff's.   

       The simple fact that people are greedy, most notabely the Dom's, is alone enough to drive the Dom's to greedy unfair trading and sometimes simply because the Diff's are different, genocide.   

       The fact is, animals aren't smart enough to figure out how much something is worth, what to do with it, and how to negotiate. If both sides, could communicate, their might be some negotiations, even if the negotiations were unfair. The Dom's regard the Diff's as dumb, unsentient (can't speak a language, tribal wars), and racialy inferior due to their difference. The Doms' own propoganda is enough consequence for them to launch an all out genocide war to gain the recources they want.   

       You give a Orangutan some Platinum Ore. Would it know what to do with it? Would it have the tools or knowhow to develop such tools, to manipulate it? What would it have to give you in return for such an Ore? You see this kind of leetism everywhere, in Multiplayer Videogames, real life, everywhere. The average MMORPG player is nice, but there are egotistical exceptions who pride themselves in all the time they've wasted in developing theircharacter. These egotists would call someone new to the game, or low level, a noob and disrespect them. If a language could be developed between Animals and Humans, that would be the first step towards Animal freedom. Although I doubt we will ever allow cows, chickens and other major food cash cows so nessecary to our survival, become free and un-eatable. The biological obstacles alone prevent communication between Animals and Humans. Suppose a Monkey has a mouth that can speak some Human syllables, would it have the brain capable of understanding out language?   

       I believe the first step here is to process selective breeding, and artificial Evolution in order to produce a Monkey smart enough to understand our language.   

       Contradiction spotted, action taken: none.
EvilPickels, Nov 22 2005

       If I gave my 4 year old nephew an ingot of platinum he would likely use it to bang pots or hit his brother. A monkey might use it to dig for grubs...or, well, hit his brother. heh.   

       Alternately, if I gave my smart but out of the loop granny a video game she would not know what to do with it. "Thanks sweety, coaster? bookend?" "No, g-mom, it's a MMORPG, don't be such a noob." ...crickets.
Zuzu, Nov 22 2005

       Why limit it to animals, include trees too.   

       You could deliver fertilizer and moisture, quid pro quo (or whatever).   

       This has been coming to the top so often, I just had to come out and say something - anything.
neelandan, Nov 22 2005

       How's about we give trees somewhere to grow where they don't get cut down and replaced by soya, and in return they give us oxygen to breathe?
wagster, Nov 22 2005

       [-] How would the animals know that they have work to do? I can't be a McDonalds employee without knowing that they have hired me.
thebigo195, Nov 22 2005

       I like the fact that one of those Capuchins gave sex the same value as a single grape. Now I can bring grapes out to the nightclubs, along with a copy of my new 'primate bartering value schedule'.   

       "Look, honey. I know you want dinner and commitment...but the chart specifically says 'a grape'."
sleeka, Nov 22 2005

       + & I have no idea why the idiotic firewall at work banned [wagster]'s link due to mature or adult content.   

       Perhaps I need voodoo dolls of the IT guys.
Zimmy, Nov 23 2005


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