Meeting Sasquatches While Camping

Project Pigeon - The First Smart Bomb






The world was in the midst of the largest war of all time, World War II. The year 1944. 


B.F. Skinner a behaviour psychologist, believed in the idea that, human free will was actually an illusion. He was also an inventor and invented many learning and teaching techniques. His most famous was the Skinner Box, for rats; where they learn to push a lever to get food giving the rat a reward, or punishment with a slight electrical shock, depending on the experiment, giving it positive or negative reinforcements, called 'Radical Behaviorism."


During the war he made his contribution to the war effort. Guidance systems were not invented yet. So, he invented the first guided missile, using pigeons to steer it towards the intended target.






He isolated a few pigeons teaching them to peck at an image, in an experiment called Project Pigeon. An image was flashed on the inside of the nose cone of the supposed target. When they did, a few seeds would come out. They were rewarded with positive reinforcements. The seeds. Food.


Devising a contraption for three pigeons he attached them to a real missile. An image of the target was displayed and the pigeons were being reinforced for pecking the right image, it would steer the missile to the desired target.  


Luckily, for the pigeons. The war ended before they could put the new device into action but it still makes me wonder how many countless pigeon lives were sacrificed during the trial and experimentation period. Was it the miracle bomb the world was looking for, to end all wars? We'll never know. 


The Atom Bomb now has that distinction.




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