The Optimal Way To Browse The Internet

The Optimal Way To Browse The Internet

Hi, this is Kate from MinuteEarth. Let’s find some cat memes! This site looks good – yeah, there’s some
funny kittehs and some great cattos on here! But, hmm, not that much…yeah, the pickings
are definitely getting slimmer. Maybe we should try another site? But that means we have to FIND another site! And we’re already here… so, should we
stay or should we go? Well, it turns out that online, we forage
for information just as, say, a chickadee forages for fruit; it has to choose which
tree to visit and decide how long to nom there before abandoning it and finding another. Ecologists already have all sorts of models
to describe how animals forage. And it turns out that one of these models,
which explains how animals move between patches of food, also predicts how humans move between
websites: both you and the chickadee will forage in one place until the rate of reward
you’re getting there drops below what you think you’re likely to get elsewhere. This calculation is subconscious, of course
– you’ll just notice the tree is getting bare, and move on. It’s a matter of spending your time and
energy in a way that gets you as much reward as possible…and that’s something foraging
animals – and humans – do all the time. For instance, we’ve found that chipmunks
that take longer seed-gathering trips bring back bigger hauls than those that take short
ones. That makes sense: it’s only worth spending
lots of resources if you can score big. And a study of more than 400 robberies in
the Netherlands found that the farther burglars travel to commit their crimes, the more expensive
their loot tends to be. Researchers have even found that the longer
we search for a romantic partner, the more likely that relationship is to last; perhaps
a bigger investment leads to a better payoff. We probably optimize like animals because
we are animals, and in fact, we share critical decision-making circuitry. For instance, monkeys have special neurons
that seem to track the rate of reward the monkey is getting in a patch – when it drops
too low, the neurons send an electrical signal to the monkey, who switches to a new patch. We also have these neurons – and there’s
evidence to suggest that lots of other animals do too; they were likely so critical to making
good food-finding tradeoffs in the distant past that they were passed on over lots of
generations. This kind of shared machinery may help explain
why we behave like our non-human kin. Of course, most of us humans now find ourselves
evaluating how fruitful websites are much more often than how fruitful fruit trees are,
and the stakes of wasting your time on dumb cat memes are far lower than wasting your
time searching for sustance. But it’s not just web surfing…at what
point do you move on from a lame TV show, or ditch the long line at the DMV, or give
up on a job – or even a relationship – that you’re not that into? It turns out that the constraints – and the
underlying machinery – that guide us in these everyday scenarios are likely the same as
those that guide animals…which means that deep inside, we’re all a little bird-brained. This video was sponsored by the University
of Minnesota, where students, faculty and staff across all fields of study are working
to solve the Grand Challenges facing society. One of these challenges is Enhancing Individual
and Community Capacity for a Changing World so that we can help people make good choices
– like staying healthy – in an ever-changing environment. Ben Hayden, in the Department of Neuroscience,
studies the biological mechanisms – like reward-tracking neurons – that we use to evaluate choices. And Dave Stephens, in the Department of Ecology,
Evolution and Behavior, investigates behaviors like foraging from an evolutionary standpoint
to help us understand the broad forces that have shaped our decision-making process. Thanks, University of Minnesota!

Danny Hutson

100 thoughts on “The Optimal Way To Browse The Internet

  1. Jordan B Peterson makes scientific evaluations on specific gender traits: everybody loses there minds.

    Minute Earth tells us we’re the same as animals and everybody’s ok with it.

  2. It's not necessarily the same brain structure in different animals that is responsible for similar behavior. More likely it is the same evolutionary pressure that leads to these similar behaviors. Also, there are algorithms to get the optimal performance. Reading recommendation: "Algorithms to live by: The Computer Science of Human Decisions"

  3. "cattos", "how long to nom", jesus christ. Just stop. Please, just stop. Speak normal English. Not this infantilized faggoty baby speak.

  4. Today I learned that people and animals both move on when they think they can get something better. Wait, no we've all known that forever.

  5. It's interesting but I was kind of hoping for a manual on how to improve/adjust the "when to switch" because I think mine is seriously broken.

  6. I imagine this also explains why mastering anything is so hard. When you first learn something, it's easy to make progress, so when you start to get sort of good at it, you get this diminishing returns problem and most give up. Not just because "it got hard", but because their brains tell them to move to another tree.

  7. This sounds like an alternate angle to the sunk-cost/prospective-cost paradigm. I'm sure I'm not the first to correlate that, so it'd be interesting if someone could point to research in how this applies!

  8. Mewonders… what about the concept of "I've come this far, I might as well get to the end", even though you've already decided it's gone to pot?

  9. Now I'm wondering how other behavioural ecology theories may be applicable to our internet activities. Resource partitioning of dog ?meme hunters and cat ?meme hunters as a followup video?

  10. I want you to:
    Watch Mario cook a steak
    Watch Nyan Cat for 10 Hours
    Watch all Spongebob videos
    See a bunch of monkeys
    Say “Watch out” 1000 times
    Solve Cicada 3301
    And do all that in a week

    If you done all of those, you’ve got WAYYYY too much spare time.

  11. I hope chickadees will shift their dependence from single-use plastics

    This is minuteX’s pitch to FAANG, so they can be acquired and used to help train AI with their expertise.

    I hope those animals will give us our neurons back. We could really use them.

  12. To me, there's an ambiguity here (possibly intentional). Does a chipmunk know (or think it knows) before the trip how productive it'll be, and it's willing to go a short distance for a trip it knows will be minimally productive, but further for a more productive one? Or do chipmunks start out with no preconceived idea, and if things are going well, they keep going, but if it looks like a bad day, they give up early? Do humans who look longer for a mate find a better choice? Or do humans who spent a long time looking for a mate figure it looked like they weren't going to find any mate at all, so ever though this one isn't optimal, they stick with him or her, figuring they probably couldn't find someone better? This isn't exactly sunk cost and it's not exactly correlation doesn't mean causation, but it reminds me of both those. I can't tell, and I'm not sure you meant us to be able to tell, which way the cause and effect is flowing. The principle you started with seemed simple — keep foraging one place till you decide you'd do better someplace else — but the examples seem less so.

  13. "The longer we take looking for a mate the longer the relationship lasts"……. yes…… that's why i'm single……

  14. does the chickadee spend a certain amount of time in one tree, flies away to forage somewhere else just to land in the same tree?

  15. This is very inspiring as someone who tries to find a truly good partner rather than trying my luck with random people~

  16. Am I missing the point or this video is uncharacteristically devoid of information unlike the other MinuteEarth's videos before it?

  17. So instead of telling us “The Optimal Way To Browse The Internet,” this video describes how all humans are hardwired to browse the internet. Does this mean that no single human is better at browsing the internet than any other person? And if some people actually are better at browsing the internet, then a video purporting to show “The Optimal Way To Browse The Internet” ought to describe exactly how those people’s browsing strategies differ from the ones of us regular birdbrained netizens.

  18. Man if the longer I take to find a romantic partner determines how long my relationship will last, my next relationship is going to last 3000 years by my calculations

  19. Really interesting, I've got a friend who got his doctorate based on a decision making postulate in online stores. It all distills into a pretty basic set of rules that translate into incredibly complex interactions.

  20. I thought this was a video on the optimal stopping problem, so I stopped watching after learning that burglers in the netherlands behave in a similar way to chipmunks looking for seeds.

  21. So, WHY do the birds in my fig tree take one bite of one fig then go ruin another then another then another…. when just eating ONE would have completely filled that bird up!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

  22. I feel like this video was completely pointless. It didn't teach me anything common sense can't tell you immediately by just thinking about it. There is no takeaway nothing helpful in any way.

  23. Any source on the part about how the time searched for romantic partners correlates to success or longevity of said relationship? Can't seem to find anything.

  24. Pretty worthless video. No mention of the unique ability of humans to focus how about which is what we call free will, making decisions, Morley, based on our long-term happiness and survival.

    Just another video incorrectly comparing non-essentials in humans to animals.

  25. You guys should talk about the Amazon rainforest being burned down, it's something terrible that's happening here in Brazil, our president is burning the forest for money.

  26. I feel like a lot of those things mentioned in the middle of the video are prime examples of "correlation does not imply causation"

  27. Of course thiefs gets more if they travel more… If you are in a poor area, you need to move to a richer area to rob. (talking about street level robbers, not things like politicians, etc…)

  28. Is it just me, or was there very little information there? It was just three minutes of stating that we do it the same way as animals.

  29. In economics, this is called optimal stopping theory. In order to watch this video, we didn't scroll through every video on YouTube, then choose this one. We saw some videos and chose to stop and view this one.

  30. That all makes perfect sense, but the argument about internet browsing is flawed. Regular internet users (most of us) generally primarily frequent only a few sites. Additionally, those sites, such as reddit, facebook, imgur or youtube, don't run out of berries. The content is so extensive, we'll never get through it all, and so we never really experience that drop in content density or quality. What does happen though, is that we get bored. In other words, it's not that the cat memes get worse, it's that we get bored of cat memes and start feeling like something else. Cat memes and berries are not alike.

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