American Koko - Netflix

Akosua Millard, codenamed "Koko", investigates and solves sticky racial situations in a post post-racial America as a member of the E.A.R. Agency (Everybody's A little bit Racist). As she and her team of specialists tackle cases, she herself is trying to reconcile the trauma of her past that has led to outbursts of her Angry Black Woman syndrome. It gets in the way of her work...and more importantly, her dating life as her latest boyfriend may be the downfall to her and the agency.

American Koko - Netflix

Type: Scripted

Languages: English

Status: Running

Runtime: 10 minutes

Premier: 2017-06-16

American Koko - Koko (gorilla) - Netflix

Hanabiko “Koko” (July 4, 1971 – June 19, 2018) was a female western lowland gorilla who was known for having learned a large number of hand signs from a modified version of American Sign Language (ASL). Koko was born at the San Francisco Zoo and lived most of her life in Woodside, California, at The Gorilla Foundation's preserve in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The name “Hanabiko” (花火子), lit. “fireworks child,” is of Japanese origin and is a reference to her date of birth, the Fourth of July. Koko gained public attention upon a report of her having adopted a kitten as a pet and creating a name for him. Her instructor and caregiver, Francine Patterson, reported that Koko was able to understand more than 1,000 signs of what Patterson calls “Gorilla Sign Language” (GSL). In contrast to other experiments attempting to teach sign language to non-human primates, Patterson simultaneously exposed Koko to spoken English from an early age. It was reported that Koko understood approximately 2,000 words of spoken English, in addition to the signs. Koko's life and learning process has been described by Patterson and various collaborators in a number of books, peer-reviewed scientific articles, and on a website. As with other great-ape language experiments, the extent to which Koko mastered and demonstrated language through the use of these signs is disputed. It is generally accepted that she did not use syntax or grammar, and that her use of language did not exceed that of a young human child. However, she scored between 70 and 95 on various IQ scales, and experts, including Mary Lee Jensvold, claim that “Koko...[used] language the same way people do.”

American Koko - Use of language - Netflix

Patterson reported that Koko's use of signs indicate that she mastered the use of sign language. Koko's training began at the age of 1, and according to Patterson, she was able to use more than 1,000 signs, including giving people the finger. Patterson reported that Koko made several complex uses of signs that suggested a more developed degree of cognition than is usually attributed to non-human primates and their use of communication. For example, Koko was reported to use displacement (the ability to communicate about objects not currently present). At age 19, Koko was able to pass the mirror test of self-recognition, which most other gorillas fail. She had been reported to relay personal memories. Koko was reported to use meta-language, being able to use language reflexively to speak about language itself, signing “good sign” to another gorilla who successfully used signing. Koko was reported to use language deceptively, and to use counterfactual statements for humorous effects, suggesting an underlying theory of other minds. Patterson reported that she documented Koko inventing new signs to communicate novel thoughts. For example, she said that nobody taught Koko the word for “ring”, but to refer to it, Koko combined the words “finger” and “bracelet”, hence “finger-bracelet”. Criticism from some scientists centered on the fact that while publications often appeared in the popular press about Koko, scientific publications with substantial data were fewer in number. Other researchers argued that Koko did not understand the meaning behind what she was doing and learnt to complete the signs simply because the researchers rewarded her for doing so (indicating that her actions were the product of operant conditioning). Another concern that has been raised about Koko's ability to express coherent thoughts through signs is that interpretation of the gorilla's conversation was left to the handler, who may have seen improbable concatenations of signs as meaningful. For example, when Koko signed “sad” there was no way to tell whether she meant it with the connotation of “How sad.” Following Patterson's initial publications in 1978, a series of critical evaluations of her reports of signing behavior in great apes argued that video evidence suggested that Koko was simply being prompted by her trainers' unconscious cues to display specific signs, in what is commonly called the Clever Hans effect. A bonobo named Kanzi, who had learned to communicate using a keyboard with lexigrams, picked up some sign language from watching videos of Koko; Kanzi's researcher, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, did not realize he had done so until Kanzi began signing to anthropologist Dawn Prince-Hughes, who had previously worked closely with gorillas.

American Koko - References - Netflix