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Racing To Save Bali's Endangered Starling

Trappers and traffickers are threatening many endangered species in Indonesia, perhaps none more so than the Bali starling, an exquisitely-feathered songbird that can fetch as much as $400.

Bali Starling
Bali Starling
Nicole Curby
PAJANGAN — A successful man must have a house, a horse, a wife, a dagger and a songbird in a cage. That, at least, according to a well-known Javanese proverb.
And yet as fanciful as the old saying may sound, its lasting influence is a big factor behind Indonesia's trade in caged birds, a trade that is pushing some endangered species to the brink of extinction.

A prime example is the Bali starling (Leucopsar rothschildi). The beauty of these small birds has been their curse: At one point it was thought that there were just six left in the wild.

"They're all white, with black on the tips of their wings and a blue mask around the eyes," explains Mehd Halaouate, breeding and release manager with the the Begawan Foundation, which operates a bird sanctuary on the island of Bali. "The kids here say the starlings have a Zorro mask. A blue Zorro mask. It's a beautiful species. And this beauty made them very sought after by collectors."

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Robot Artists And Us: Who Decides The Aesthetics Of AI?

Ai-Da is touted as the first bonafide robot artist. But should we consider her paintings and poetry original or creative? Is this even art at all?

Ai-Da at work

Leah Henrickson and Simone Natale

Ai-Da sits behind a desk, paintbrush in hand. She looks up at the person posing for her, and then back down as she dabs another blob of paint onto the canvas. A lifelike portrait is taking shape. If you didn’t know a robot produced it, this portrait could pass as the work of a human artist.

Ai-Da is touted as the “first robot to paint like an artist”, and an exhibition of her work called Leaping into the Metaverse opened at the Venice Biennale.

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