Category: Case studies

Case studies

Dog catching frisbee

Can my dog predict the future ?

When I throw a stick, my dog starts moving before the stick even leaves my hand. How is that possible ? Does my dog know the future ? Of course, beyond the joke and the clickbaity title, this should not seem like magic. We usually admit that animals can anticipate by predicting the future, at least in some weak sense. I suppose we think of it like this: my dog has observed me throwing toys for years, so he has a mental model of where the toy will go depending on my movements. When I start moving, his brain uses the present information, puts it in the model, makes a few computations, predicts the trajectory of the stick, and starts moving according to this prediction. And sure, this is far from being Nostradamus. I can profit from this behaviour to easily fool my dog. I simply don’t release the stick, and my dog starts moving to the wrong place.

The floor is lava

You probably know the game called “the floor is lava”, where players must traverse space without touching the ground. Although it is a kids’ game, it is also popular among parkour practitioners, who use different obstacles, ledges, walls or rails to avoid touching the “lava”. Here, I will argue that this game is a great example of a “naive” version of the constraints-led approach. Different versions of the game might exist, so we will start discussing an unstructured case and then examine how different variations can be used to achieve learning goals.

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