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How technology is enabling communication with animals

07.11.2022 06:21 AM
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How technology is enabling communication with animals
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How technology is enabling communication with animals

Humans could soon communicate with animals as scientists around the world use artificial intelligence to talk to bees, elephants and whales, but one expert fears this ability could be used to manipulate wild species.

Speaking with vox, Karen Bakker, of the University of British Columbia, said a team of researchers in Germany is using artificial intelligence to decode patterns of non-human sounds, such as the dance of honeybees and the low-frequency noise of elephants, allowing the technology to be made not only a means of communication, but also To control wild animals, as quoted by RT.

Packer explained that animal-speaking AI could be added to robots that can "basically break through the barrier of communication between species", but she also notes that this breakthrough raises ethical questions. Enabling humans to talk to different species can create a "deeper sense of kinship" Or a sense of control and the ability to manipulate the domestication of wild species that we as humans could not control before."

Humans have long sought the ability to talk to animals and made several films based on this idea, such as the 1967 Doctor Dolittle.

And the idea is no longer just a movie plot, as scientists have discovered successful ways to speak the language of animals.

And in 2018, researchers from the Dahlem Center for Machine Learning and Robotics in Germany designed a RoboBee that simulates the wobbly dance of bees, which are used to transmit information from one another.

The robot, which does not resemble a real bee, is designed in the form of a sponge with wings and attached to a rod that controls its movement.

The team trained the robot to mimic the motions of the vibration dance itself, which consists of different forms of air flow and vibrations, and tricked the bees into "listening to them."

Some bees were found to follow directions from RoboBee, such as where to move inside the hive or to stop completely.

Bakker, who recently published a book called "Sounds of Life: How Digital Technologies Bring Us Closer to the Worlds of Animals and Plants," told Vox that the next step in Germany's research is to implant several robots into different cells to see them, if the colony will accept machines as one of them.

And then we will have an unprecedented degree of control over the cell; We basically domesticated that cell in a way we've never done before.

This is where Bakker discusses the ethical issues that can arise from this ability, noting that such technologies can lead to human exploitation of animals.

However, she hopes the abilities will be used to allow the average person to "in tune with the sounds of nature".

Packer discusses the work of zoologist and bioacoustics researcher Katie Payne, who has used artificial intelligence to capture infrasound sounds.

Payne described the sounds as "a strange throbbing in her chest, a strange feeling of uneasiness," Packer told Vox.

"This is what we, as humans, can often feel with ultrasound," she continued.

Besides honeybees and whales, a team of international scientists recently launched an ambitious project to listen, contextualize and translate communications of sperm whales, with the goal of "talking" to these majestic marine animals.

The project, called Project CETI (The Whale Translation Initiative), also uses artificial intelligence to interpret clicking sounds, or "codes" that sperm whales make to communicate with each other.

The team, which launched the CETI project in October 2021, is using natural language processing or neuro-linguistic programming - a subfield of artificial intelligence focused on processing written and spoken human language - which will be trained on four billion sperm whale coding.

The plan is to have the AI associate each sound with a specific context — a feat that will take at least five years, according to the researchers.

If the team achieves these goals, the next step will be to develop and deploy an interactive chatbot that engages in dialogue with sperm whales living in the wild.

Packer notes that humans have communicated with animals in the past, specifically primates, but they did so from a "very human-centred viewpoint" - such as teaching sign language to animals.

However, using AI is a way to use a creature's own language to communicate with it. Technology analyzes unique cues associated with behaviors and patterns to create language.

"What [these researchers] are doing is not trying to teach these species human language, but basically putting together dictionaries of signs and then trying to understand what those signals mean within those species," Packer told Vox.

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