(WFLA) – We could all be Dr. Doolittle in 10 years time thanks to recent advances in artificial intelligence, a new report claims.
NBC News reports that scientists are learning how to translate animals’ vocalizations and facial expressions into something we can all understand. So, instead of barking, Fluffy may soon be able ot tell you about the mess on your carpet in plain English through a translator.
The report profiles Dr. Con Slobodchikoff, a professor emeritus of biology at Northern Arizona University who has spent more than 30 years studying prairie dogs and the sophisticated way they communicate.
According to Slobodchikoff, prairie dogs make high-pitched calls to warn others of predators. The calls vary depending on the size and type of predator in their midst. The prairie dogs combine the calls in a number of ways to communicate and they’re even able to indicate the color of a nearby human’s clothing.
Slobodchikoff and his colleague developed an algorithm that turns their vocalizations into English and recently founded a company called Zoolingua to develop more technology that could allow us to communicate with animals.
“I thought, if we can do this with prairie dogs, we can certainly do it with dogs and cats,” Slobodchikoff told NBC News.
Slobodchikoff and his team are sifting through thousands of videos of dogs to analyze their various barks and body movements. The videos will be used to teach an artificial intelligence algorithm about these communication signals.
Slobodchikoff still hasn’t come up with an algorithm for understanding the meaning behind each bark or tail wag. At this point, those things are up for human interpretation. But Slobodchikoff wants to create a device that translates woofs into English words allowing dogs to tell humans when they want to eat or go for a walk.
Slobodchikoff says this kind of technology could help humans better understand dogs and their behavior. “You could use that information and instead of backing the dog into a corner, give the dog more space,” Slobodchikoff said.
The technology could also make life easier for farmers, allowing them to quickly identify animals that are sick by detecting signs of pain in their faces, NBC reported.
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