• Sofia Eugeniou

AI is helping us communicate with animals

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

Powerful artificial intelligence systems are helping us communicate with animals.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has helped us decode ancient languages and now researches are using the same technique to help understand our beloved pets.

Whenever we use a tool to help correct our spellings and use of grammar, there is a powerful AI machine in the background, steadily improving its understanding of language. Sentence structures are fixed, word choices understood, and idioms recognised.

AI, however, can be used to go beyond what existing spell-checkers provide. Not only can AI spot spelling mistakes, but also identify correctly spelt words that are used in the wrong context.

That exact capability could, in 2020, grant the ability to speak with other large animals.

Image credit: Gaia

Thus far, AI-enhanced abilities to decode languages have enabled us to string sentences of languages not spoken by anyone alive. Recently, researchers from MIT and Google applied these abilities to ancient scripts - Linear B and Ugaritic (a precursor of Hebrew) - with reasonable success.

Many pet owners could soon be able to use technology to communicate with their furbabies, as scientists implement AI to decode the disparate dialects of animals.

Although much of this technology is currently being used to study animals in the wild, there is hope someday soon that AI devices of this kind will become purchasable on the market, allowing us to talk to our cats and dogs.

A research project on dolphin whistles and their meanings led to the first effective animal translator, known as the Cetacean Hearing and Telemetry (CHAT) translator. Showing its success, the CHAT one day translated a dolphin's whistle to the world 'sargassum', a type of seaweed.

With Google Translate's AI system learning and translating human languages at an exponential rate, it is thought that the application of these translators aimed at animal language will allow us to communicate with our pets within the next decade.

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