In a scenario reminiscent of a Disney movie plot, experts predict that artificial intelligence (AI) will enable humans to communicate with household pets and even wild animals. Researchers globally are employing “digital bioacoustics,” utilizing portable digital recorders to capture the subtle sounds, tics, and behaviors of animals that may go unnoticed by human ears.

These extensive databases of animal communications serve as training grounds for AI to decipher and translate these intricate signals into a more understandable form—a kind of ‘ChatGPT for animals.’ The Earth Species Project, an AI non-profit founded in 2017, spearheads efforts to record, comprehend, and engage in communication with a variety of animals, from common pets like cats and dogs to more exotic species like whales and crows.

Ongoing experiments under the Earth Species Project involve mapping the vocal repertoires of crows and generating new vocalizations that birds can understand. Aza Raskin, a co-founder of the project, believes that generating artificial animal vocalizations may be achievable within the next 12 to 36 months.

Researchers at the University of Lincoln are utilizing AI to categorize and understand the expressions of cats. Professor Daniel Mills suggests that AI can aid in decoding the complex language of cats by identifying features such as ear positions. Similarly, another AI model seeks to translate the facial expressions and barks of dogs, revealing the potential to uncover surprising facts about animal thoughts and emotions.

A pioneering AI study on bats has uncovered that they possess a more intricate language than previously thought. Analyzing 15,000 bat calls with a voice-recognition program, researchers correlated the sounds to videos, revealing that bats argue over food and use ‘baby language.’ AI-driven ‘deep learning’ can decipher bat language, offering insights into their social interactions.

The quest to decipher whale song involves placing microphones on buoys and robotic fish to capture extensive data. Sperm whales, known for their complex communication through clicks and codas, are the subjects of Project CETI, where machine learning predicts whale codas with impressive accuracy.

These breakthroughs in animal communication through AI not only unveil the potential for understanding our animal companions but also underscore the broader implications of technological advancements in bridging the gap between humans and the animal kingdom.

By Impact Lab