Humans could soon communicate with animals as scientists around the world are using artificial intelligence to talk to bees, elephants and whales, but one expert fears the power could be used to manipulate wildlife. In an interview with Vox, Karen Bakker of the University of British Columbia explained that a team of German researchers are using AI to decode non-human sound patterns, such as bee dances and noises. elephant low frequency, allowing the technology not only to communicate, but also to control wild animals.
Ms Bakker explains that AI talking to animals can be added to robots that can “essentially cross the communication barrier between species”, but she also notes that this advancement raises ethical questions. Allowing humans to speak with different species could create a “deeper sense of relatedness, or a sense of dominance and manipulative ability to domesticate wild species that we have never been able to control before”.
Humans have long sought to speak with animals and have made several films based on this idea, such as Doctor Dolittle in 1967. The idea is no longer just a movie plot and scientists have discovered successful methods of speaking the language animals. In 2018, researchers at the Dahlem Center for Machine Learning and Robotics, Germany, designed the RoboBee that mimics the bustle dance of bees, used to relay information to each other. The robot, which looks nothing like an actual bee, is designed like a sponge with wings attached to a rod that controls its movements.
The team trained the robot to mimic the same movements as the bustle dance, which consists of different shapes of airflow and vibrations, and managed to trick the bees into “listening” to it. . It turned out that some bees followed the RoboBee’s instructions, such as where to move in the hive or stop completely. Bakker, who recently published a book called “The Sounds of Life: How Digital Technologies Are Bringing Us Closer to the World of Animals and Plants,” told Vox that the next step in the German’s research is to plant several robots. in different hives to see if the colony will accept the machines as one of their own.
That this means ?
We will then have an unprecedented degree of control over the hive; we will have essentially domesticated this hive in a way that we have never done before,” she told Vox. This is where Ms. Bakker addresses the ethical issues that could arise from this ability, noting that such technologies could lead humans to exploit animal use.
However, she hopes these abilities will be used to enable ordinary people to “tune into the sounds of nature”. Elephants are known for their loud roars when they throw their trunks in the air, but these majestic creatures also emit low-frequency sounds that go unnoticed by the human ear. Bakker refers to the work of a zoologist and bioacoustics researcher, Katie Payne, who used artificial intelligence to capture infrasonic sounds. Katie Payne described the sounds “like a strange throbbing in her chest, a strange feeling of unease,” Bakker told Vox. And that’s often how we as humans can perceive infrasound,” she continued.
Another ambitious communication project with bees:
In addition to bees and whales, a team of international scientists recently launched an ambitious project to listen to, contextualize and translate the communication of sperm whales, with the aim of “talking” to these majestic marine animals. This project, called CETI (Cetacean Translation Initiative), also uses artificial intelligence to interpret the clicks, or “codas”, that sperm whales emit to communicate with each other. The team, which launched the CETI project in October 2021, uses natural language processing or NLP – a subfield of artificial intelligence focused on processing written and spoken human language – which will be trained on four billion sperm whale codas.
The goal is to get the AI to correlate each sound with a specific context — a feat that will take at least five years, the researchers say. If the team achieves these goals, the next step will be to develop and deploy an interactive chatbot that will engage with sperm whales living in the wild. Ms Bakker notes that humans have communicated with animals in the past, particularly primates, but have done so from a “very human-centric lens”, such as teaching animals language. signs.
Using AI, on the other hand, allows the creature’s own language to be used to communicate. The technology analyzes unique cues related to behaviors and patterns to create language. That [ces chercheurs] are doing is not trying to teach these species human language, but rather compiling, essentially, dictionaries of signals and then trying to figure out what those signals mean within these species,” she told Vox.