Any pet owner knows there is no greater way to spill your deepest secrets than to your little best friend, but what if they could talk back? This mystical world may be closer than originally thought...
Professor emeritus, Con Slobodchikoff has been studying prairie dog communication for 30 years, at North Arizona University, and discovered that they have “a sophisticated communication system that has all the aspects of language”. After using AI to analyse the prairie dog’s calls he discovered that: “they have words for varied species of predator and can describe colour of the clothes of a human, or the coat of coyotes or dogs”. This remarkable discovery, although done on rodents, may be the first incredible step into the animal language. Now, he is incredibly convinced that we can decipher our pet’s vocabulary that he trying to raise money to be able to develop a canine/ feline translation device.
Futurologist William Higham, who co-authored the report for amazon, has said he believes that we will be able to communicate with animals in less than ten years. He also stated: “Innovative products that succeed are based around a genuine and major consumer need. The amount of money now spent on pets – they are becoming fur babies to so many people – means there is huge consumer demand for this. “.
However, psychologist Juliane Kaminski is sceptical about the claims made; She believes that a dog’s bark is not a “language in the scientific sense”. She would also say that most dog ‘language’ are body movements and so a translation device wouldn’t be able to decipher them. However, she has stated that she believes a translation device could help, if possible, with children who have difficulties interpreting signals.
For example, in one study, it was found that if an image of a dog with its teeth bared menacingly was shown to an audience of young children they would declare the dog was “happy” or “smiling” and would have gone over and hugged it. A translation device, more so an interpretation device would be able to warn the children if there were dangers present.
These claims may seem bold, yet speech recognition software has developed massively in the last couple of years, migrating from an inflexible pre-programmed state to huge databases that can interpret so much more.
Amazon already has an app that claims to be able to translate a human voice into a cat’s meow, however reviews have said that the application can cause unnecessary stress to your cat or that their cat was just puzzled, so a scientifically backed translator could be just what we need. Another company, NSID (the Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery) attempted to make a dog translation device, however they declared the project “on pause” as they realised the extent of the challenge they had given themselves, meaning we are, for now, stuck with the “woofs” and “meows” of our furry companions.
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