Translation Machine To Make Human-Dolphin Conversations Possible

flipperWhat secrets of the sea have dolphins been waiting to tell us? We may soon find out (hopefully not just tuna jokes). New Scientist reports:

A diver carrying a computer that tries to recognize dolphin sounds and generate responses in real time will soon attempt to communicate with wild dolphins off the coast of Florida. If the bid is successful, it will be a big step towards two-way communication between humans and dolphins.

Since the 1960s, captive dolphins have been communicating via pictures and sounds. In the 1990s, Louis Herman of the Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory in Honolulu, Hawaii, found that bottlenose dolphins can keep track of over 100 different words. They can also respond appropriately to commands in which the same words appear in a different order, understanding the difference between “bring the surfboard to the man” and “bring the man to the surfboard”, for example.

But communication in most of these early experiments was one-way, says Denise Herzing, founder of the Wild Dolphin Project in Jupiter, Florida. “They create a system and expect the dolphins to learn it, and they do, but the dolphins are not empowered to use the system to request things from the humans,” she says.

Since 1998, Herzing and colleagues have been attempting two-way communication with dolphins, first using rudimentary artificial sounds, then by getting them to associate the sounds with four large icons on an underwater “keyboard”.

By pointing their bodies at the different symbols, the dolphins could make requests – to play with a piece of seaweed or ride the bow wave of the divers’ boat, for example. The system managed to get the dolphins’ attention, Herzing says, but wasn’t “dolphin-friendly” enough to be successful.

Herzing is now collaborating with Thad Starner, an artificial intelligence researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, on a project named Cetacean Hearing and Telemetry (CHAT). They want to work with dolphins to “co-create” a language that uses features of sounds that wild dolphins communicate with naturally.

, , , , , , , , ,

24 Responses to Translation Machine To Make Human-Dolphin Conversations Possible

  1. emperorreagan May 18, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

    Just wait until they find out the dolphins are saying, “I’m going to rape that meat bag” pretty much constantly.

  2. emperorreagan May 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    Just wait until they find out the dolphins are saying, “I’m going to rape that meat bag” pretty much constantly.

    • Mr. Coffee May 20, 2011 at 4:43 am #

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who knows that Dolphins are grade A psychotic monsters. 

  3. Anonymous May 18, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    Mario sez dolphins look kinda tasty! 

  4. GoodDoktorBad May 18, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    Mario sez dolphins look kinda tasty! 

  5. Chaorder Gradient May 18, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

    First and last thing they say: “So Long and Thanks for all the Fish”

  6. Chaorder Gradient May 18, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

    First and last thing they say: “So Long and Thanks for all the Fish”

  7. Chaorder Gradient May 18, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    First and last thing they say: “So Long and Thanks for all the Fish”

  8. Anduril May 18, 2011 at 11:36 pm #

     One step closer to SeaQuest?

  9. Anduril May 18, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

     One step closer to SeaQuest?

  10. AMorandi May 19, 2011 at 12:42 am #

     While it would be awesome if they did, I can’t imagine dolphins have anything important to say.

  11. AMorandi May 18, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

     While it would be awesome if they did, I can’t imagine dolphins have anything important to say.

  12. superfluous May 19, 2011 at 3:44 am #

    this makes more sense than looking for extraterrestrials 

    • Guest May 21, 2011 at 8:43 am #

      Really?  Does it? 

      • superfluous May 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

        it does to me, anyway..
         
        i guess one argument in favor of searching for ETs is that their hypothetical discovery would transform human society and psychology (as in “omg, we’re not alone in this universe!!”)
         
        well, we most definitely are not alone on this planet, a fact which somehow doesn’t count – or at least, in many cases, fails to create the same sense of cosmic, wondrous significance as ETs supposedly would.
         
        why is that? seems to me that human elitism prefers to hope for high-tech ”equals” some place far, far away, rather than to acknowledge technological “inferiors” at home as being more than mere objects.

        anything goes, as long as it doesn’t change anyones mind, as long as it doesn’t lead to action. illusion.

  13. superfluous May 19, 2011 at 7:44 am #

    this makes more sense than looking for extraterrestrials 

  14. superfluous May 19, 2011 at 7:44 am #

    this makes more sense than looking for extraterrestrials 

  15. DITM May 19, 2011 at 5:35 am #

    Hope they don’t carp on. 

  16. DITM May 19, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    Hope they don’t carp on. 

  17. Mr. Coffee May 20, 2011 at 4:42 am #

     Yes, lets talk to the only animal more evil than the hairless ape. Lets hear them speak of how much they would like us to jump in the water so they can rape us, and then beat us to death.

  18. Mr. Coffee May 20, 2011 at 8:42 am #

     Yes, lets talk to the only animal more evil than the hairless ape. Lets hear them speak of how much they would like us to jump in the water so they can rape us, and then beat us to death.

  19. Mr. Coffee May 20, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who knows that Dolphins are grade A psychotic monsters. 

  20. Guest May 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Really?  Does it? 

  21. superfluous May 21, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    it does to me, anyway..
     
    i guess one argument in favor of searching for ETs is that their hypothetical discovery would transform human society and psychology (as in “omg, we’re not alone in this universe!!”)
     
    well, we most definitely are not alone on this planet, a fact which somehow doesn’t count – or at least, in many cases, fails to create the same sense of cosmic, wondrous significance as ETs supposedly would.
     
    why is that? seems to me that human elitism prefers to hope for high-tech ”equals” some place far, far away, rather than to acknowledge technological “inferiors” at home as being more than mere objects.

    anything goes, as long as it doesn’t change anyones mind, as long as it doesn’t lead to action. illusion.

Leave a Reply