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Dolphin Language Could Be Translated Using Artificial Intelligence By 2021

May 02, 2017 07:20 AM EDT
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Artificial intelligence could soon pave the way to cross-species communication, starting with dolphins.
(Photo : Mike Aguilera/SeaWorld San Diego Via Getty Images)

In a few years, humans can do more than just play with dolphins -- it's possible we can also talk to them. Swedish start-up technology company Gavagai and Sweden's Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) are teaming up to develop an artificial intelligence technology that would make it possible to translate the sounds dolphins make, according to a report from The Local.

"The technology models meaning instead of structure," Gavagai CEO Lars Hamberg explained. "It is unsupervised, and it continuously learns meaning by itself, by observing every language's usage -- much like a human. The technology is based on many years of world-leading research."

The research will include four years of working with bottlenose dolphins in Norrköping in southern Sweden. Hamberg added that the recent advances in AI makes the goal of understanding and communicating with dolphins plausible.

Dolphins could just be the beginning as cross-species communication could eventually be applied to other animals such as cats, birds and others.

"We hope to be able to understand dolphins with the help of artificial intelligence technology," Jussi Karlgren, an adjunct professor of language technology at KTH and co-founder of Gavagai, said in a statement in Bloomberg Technology. "We know that dolphins have a complex communication system, but we don't know what they are talking about yet."

Scientists have long been fascinated with the means dolphins use to communicate with each other. Just last year, a study proposed that dolphins may have developed a type of spoken language through pulses -- also known as whistles and clicks -- according to a report from CNN.

Russian researchers taped an interaction between two adult Black Sea bottlenose dolphins where the two animals exchanged a series of whistles and clicks, each one waiting for the other to finish before "speaking." The exchange is similar to a conversation between two people.

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