Something for the weekend How do you know if a fish is upset? He doesn’t grind his pharyngeal teeth, clench his flippers, or utter wet swear words. And it’s not like you can see tears rolling down her face.
Well, there’s an app for that. OK, not an app, at least not yet, but the lab boffins at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed a wireless device to not only track where a fish is swimming, but also monitor its health and behavior. Miniaturized to about the size of a pen cap, this biotelemetry tag detects everything from heartbeat to tail beat and ambient environmental conditions like water pressure and (oh yes) magnetic field.
The information gathered by the 2.4g device should help scientists determine what’s stressing a fish – climate change, human infrastructure projects, that sort of thing. For example, legislation in many countries insists that migratory species such as salmon should not be too shunned by the introduction of hydroelectric facilities to want to swim upstream for a bit of a nookie pool.
They call it “Lab-on-a-fish”. It’s basically a dodgy Fitbit.
I wonder if I could borrow one as I think I upset my neighbor’s fish. The neighbor asked me to drop by twice a day while she was away to add food, keep her water clean, and check for those subtle telltale signs like floating upside down motionless on the surface.
I felt sorry for the little fish in his bare tank so I installed some water furniture that I bought from a pet store.
I thought a sunken castle, plastic seaweed, and a bubbling treasure chest would cheer him up. Instead, the fish acts rather… grumpy. I suspect he doesn’t like the sudden gentrification of his surroundings. Maybe I should have prepped him for the change by introducing a miniature dumpster and landscape gardening tools before the underwater yuppies moved in.
Lab-on-a-fish already counts tail strokes (is the goal 10,000 per day?) but to be a true fish fitness tracker it should be further developed to record this that the fish eats.
Not that I’ve ever seen an obese fish reluctant to step on the scale, but what animals eat can change their behavior. Research from the Milner Center of Evolution even suggests that vegetarian birds are more social than insect eaters.
It’s completely the opposite with humans: vegetarians and vegans are fussy, fussy, lonely buggers who never get invited to dinner. I should know. Meat eaters, on the other hand, are gregarious and easy to please. So much so that they’ll eat any old crap if everyone eats it, according to even more research.
The BI Norwegian Business School found that if an influential celebrity like Angelina Jolie or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson endorsed energy bars made with crickets or mealworm burgers, carnivores would follow.
According to the study, men were most influenced by famous actors and athletes telling them to eat insects. The women proved even more responsive to actors saying there was nothing wrong with munching on scary critters, but totally put off by musicians saying the same. Now you know.
Me, if I lack protein, I eat peanuts.
Could a future fish fitness tracker one day collect enough behavioral data to determine whether fish would respond to similar peer pressure? I was going to say it would be hilarious to imagine what an aquatic life influencer would look like, but I think I’ve seen a lot of them on TikTok.
Speaking of desperate social media marketing and influencers with the mental capacity of a tadpole, you’re reading this in the midst of the French presidential election. And it turns out to be a tech media explosion as the 12 candidates (yes, 12) try to convince voters that they would metaphorically love to eat dung beetles for breakfast.
So far, the most notable media coverage of the election in terms of computer ignorance has been the simultaneous appearance of left-wing instigator Jean-Luc Mélenchon as a “hologram” in several cities of France.
“Hologram” – yeah, that’s right. As you already guessed from looking at the images above, it’s not a hologram, it’s the classic Pepper’s Ghost illusion in which a moving image is reflected off a sheet of glass on stage. It’s a nice trick but other than digital capture and projection, the technology dates back to 1862.
You would know if I had been to one of the “hologram” speeches this week – I would be the one shouting from the back, “Long live Las Vegas! Do Hound Dog!
Yet if Mélenchon’s spit-spraying team calls it a “hologram,” everyone follows suit and calls it a “hologram” even when they know it isn’t. As in “artificial intelligence” (i.e., it’s not smart), “cryptocurrency” (not a currency), and “smart light bulb” (do you really need me to explain this one to you- the ?)
More surprising is how everyone missed a turn by not claiming that Melvis was appearing on multiple stages across the country via the metaverse. As a Forrester report pointed out, corporate decision makers talk about the Metaverse as if it actually exists – which of course it doesn’t. But hey, don’t let that stop you!
In fact, if you think there is a metaverse and French presidential candidates are holograms, I have an NFT you might be interested in.
Luxury gift maker Goldgenie is selling NFTs that come with a diamond-encrusted 24-karat gold iPhone Max 13. The phone is a real phone, but with more than a hint of fugly Saddam/Trump chic, but I can’t describe what NFT is for reasons you can figure out for yourself. It sells for $250,000. Don’t rush all at once. If only The Rock could prove there’s nothing wrong with eating one, huh?
Ah, excuse me, my watch reminded me that it’s time to feed the fish. He may be grumpy but he trained me well.
Before I go, let me add a footnote to say that this week’s column marks 10 years of SFTW. A whole decade of that, imagine! Yes, I know, it seems longer to me. And it started here. Each column is always on The Reg for your reading displeasure, so as hologrammatic AI Angeline Jolie says, eat them now.
Thanks for sticking around, friends.
Alistair Dabbs is a freelance tech enthusiast, juggling tech journalism, training, and digital publishing. He reads your comments every week. In other words, his hologram reads them. More to Autosave is for Wimps and @alidabbs.