A Childhood Dream: Can We Talk to Animals Like Dr. Dolittle?


Indeed, God has made us peoples and tribes to get to know each other. Perhaps this is not limited to humans, but to other partners in life. Animals have the right to life for all their capabilities, starting with their sensations and feelings, all the way to their amazing powers that exceed human capabilities, all the while sharing all means of subsistence. Scientists have always sought to decode animal languages; thanks to recent technological advancements and artificial intelligence (AI), this dream may become a reality.

Scientists at the Earth Species Project (ESP) try to achieve this by using advances in AI systems to analyze, understand, and link animal sounds to their behaviors; according to an announcement by Katie Zacarian, CEO of ESP. AI achieved developments have enabled us to analyze huge amounts of data and process them to understand animal languages found in forests and seas. They are not limited to verbal conversations, but include physical and kinetic elements, which are very similar to human interaction with each other.

In collaboration with more than forty environmental and biological institutions around the world, latest recording tools and sensors are placed on top of mountains and in depth of seas, to capture as much of animal conversations as possible. Using AI, ESP collects and analyzes this data to understand these creatures in the best possible way. AI is used to analyze "Bioacoustics", which refers to unique sounds produced by different living species, and "Ecoacoustics", which relates to the surrounding environment to animals, to identify and link communication patterns to animal behaviors.

ESP's research did not focus only on wild animals, such as mammals, elephants, birds, and honeybees, but even included marine mammals, such as whales and dolphins. They have captured the attention of scientists and researchers because of the more exciting and significant information they provide. Through bioacoustics, they were able to discover new species of blue whales, each group of which has distinct sound waves. It also helped to know the impact of human activities on the environment, such as illegal logging, dynamite fishing, and other harmful activities, and how they result in a state of panic and tension in animals. When animals' environment is exposed to disturbance and destruction, they express that through sound waves.

This has prompted scientists to enact stronger laws of environment conservation and animal protection. They have already been implemented on the West Coast of the United States, and more main conservation areas have been established in the region, aiming to protect and preserve the natural world. Scientists have also been able to understand animal languages through their sound waves, and even assist them in preserving their lives and adapt to the environment.

Artificial intelligence is still relatively a new field that evolve rapidly; we do not quite know how the future will unfold our relationship to these technologies. We must, thus, ensure that our efforts to communicate with animals fully respect their independence, and do not impose human control over them, so that this communication becomes one of humanity's greatest achievements.


Cover image by Freepik

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