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Dolphin To English Translator


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#1
wjfox

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http://www.newscient...on-machine.html

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Talk with a dolphin via underwater translation machine

09 May 2011 by MacGregor Campbell
Magazine issue 2811. Subscribe and save

Editorial: "The implications of interspecies communication"

A DIVER carrying a computer that tries to recognise 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.

Knowing what to listen for is a huge challenge. Dolphins can produce sound at frequencies up to 200 kilohertz - around 10 times as high as the highest pitch we can hear - and can also shift a signal's pitch or stretch it out over a long period of time.

The animals can also project sound in different directions without turning their heads, making it difficult to use visual cues alone to identify which dolphin in a pod "said" what and to guess what a sound might mean.

To record, interpret and respond to dolphin sounds, Starner and his students are building a prototype device featuring a smartphone-sized computer and two hydrophones capable of detecting the full range of dolphin sounds.

A diver will carry the computer in a waterproof case worn across the chest, and LEDs embedded around the diver's mask will light up to show where a sound picked up by the hydrophones originates from. The diver will also have a Twiddler - a handheld device that acts as a combination of mouse and keyboard - for selecting what kind of sound to make in response.

Herzing and Starner will start testing the system on wild Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) in the middle of this year. At first, divers will play back one of eight "words" coined by the team to mean "seaweed" or "bow wave ride", for example. The software will listen to see if the dolphins mimic them. Once the system can recognise these mimicked words, the idea is to use it to crack a much harder problem: listening to natural dolphin sounds and pulling out salient features that may be the "fundamental units" of dolphin communication.

The researchers don't know what these units might be. But the algorithms they are using are designed to sift through any unfamiliar data set and pick out interesting features (see "Pattern detector"). The software does this by assuming an average state for the data and labelling features that deviate from it. It then groups similar types of deviations - distinct sets of clicks or whistles, say - and continues to do so until it has extracted all potentially interesting patterns.

Once these units are identified, Herzing hopes to combine them to make dolphin-like signals that the animals find more interesting than human-coined "words". By associating behaviours and objects with these sounds, she may be the first to decode the rudiments of dolphins' natural language.

Justin Gregg of the Dolphin Communication Project, a non-profit organisation in Old Mystic, Connecticut, thinks that getting wild dolphins to adopt and use artificial "words" could work, but is sceptical that the team will find "fundamental units" of natural dolphin communication.

Even if they do, deciphering their meanings and using them in the correct context poses a daunting challenge. "Imagine if an alien species landed on Earth wearing elaborate spacesuits and walked through Manhattan speaking random lines from The Godfather to passers-by," he says.

"We don't even know if dolphins have words," Herzing admits. But she adds, "We could use their signals, if we knew them. We just don't."

Pattern detector

The software that Thad Starner is using to make sense of dolphin sounds was originally designed by him and a former student, David Minnen, to "discover" interesting features in any data set. After analysing a sign-language video, the software labelled 23 of 40 signs used. It also identified when the person started and stopped signing, or scratched their head.

The software has also identified gym routines - dumb-bell curls, for example - by analysing readings from accelerometers worn by the person exercising, even though the software had not previously encountered such data. However, Starner cautions that if meaning must be ascribed to the patterns picked out by the software, then this will require human input.

#2
OrbitalResonance

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This. Is. Awesome.

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#3
CamGoldenGun

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Can anyone say SeaQuest DSV?

#4
OrbitalResonance

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Imagine if we unlock some sort of rosetta stone here and are able to freely exchange information. They could be just as capable as us at thinking and retaining information and all that smart stuffs. Dually capable species =D They don't have the tools like hands to build a civilization though. There are so many things about this that could change how we see other life.

We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers. - Carl Sagan


#5
mic of orion

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This. Is. Awesome.



I second that :) http://www.futuretim...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbup.gif
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#6
OrbitalResonance

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Wouldn't it be so weird for them if we suddenly started talking lol!

We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers. - Carl Sagan


#7
Yuli Ban

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http://www.popsci.co...works-real-time

Atlantic Spotted Dolphins: So long, and thanks for all the fish. 

For the first time ever, a device has enabled people to translate a dolphin whistle in real time. The dolphin's first word was "sargassum," a type of seaweed. "I was like whoa! We have a match. I was stunned," researcher Denise Herzing told New Scientist. At the time, in August of last year, she was wearing a prototype dolphin translator called Cetacean Hearing and Telemetry (CHAT). The device is encased in a waterproof shell and contains hydrophones that detect dolphin whistles, which can be up to 10 times higher than the highest pitch a human can make out. The whistle was one that she and others had taught the dolphins and trained them to associate with seaweed. Herzing is quick to point out that the observation has limitations, since it hasn't been repeated. But is a significant moment, other researchers said, and along with improvements in information-processing abilities signals of a new era for understanding--and even possibly participating in--animal communication.


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And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#8
Futurist

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Very interesting news! :D

 

As a side note, I apologize for bringing up this topic, but I wonder if this will eventually lead to greater support and/or acceptance of (legalizing) bestiality in the future.



#9
caltrek

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Interesting.

 

"So long and thanks for all the fish" is an allusion to scence fiction writer Douglas Adams. He was discussing the relative intelligence of animals on planet earth. Mice were rated as the most inteligent because of the way they allowed humans to construct scientific experiments with mice as the subjects, when in reality the mice were trans-dimensional beings conducting tests on humans. Dolphins were the second smartest. "So long and thanks for all the fish" were their parting words to humans as they evacuated the planet. 

 

Adams was a truly funny man. He would appreciate this story.


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#10
Unity

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I want an elephant-human translator a great-ape human translator



#11
Yuli Ban

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Wait huh? So you want to speak great ape in elephant?

And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#12
Unity

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don't limit me! 



#13
Kemotx

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Very interesting news! :D

 

As a side note, I apologize for bringing up this topic, but I wonder if this will eventually lead to greater support and/or acceptance of (legalizing) bestiality in the future.

 



#14
four

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Very interesting news! :D

 

As a side note, I apologize for bringing up this topic, but I wonder if this will eventually lead to greater support and/or acceptance of (legalizing) bestiality in the future.

 

with a dolphin...?

 

http://io9.com/54483...ere-avatar-wont

 

But really. This is the first thing you think of when there is news of human-dolphin communication, Futurist?

 

With this translator, if they have made dolphin sounds sound "human", then there should be a large effort to decode dolphin language. This news was only about dolphins learning a word humans had taught them.


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#15
OrbitalResonance

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I would love for a new sapience to be discovered. dolphins would be kind of at the hunter/gatherer stage of existence. We accelerated because of our ability to easily manipulate things, which also helped grow our minds.


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#16
Yuli Ban

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What wondrous developments. Imagine if we're the factor that helps push dolphin evolution along. A dual civilization. Hopefully we don't succumb to our apely instincts and wage war on them.

And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#17
OrbitalResonance

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Yes, though i suspect there will be plenty of liberalized thinkers/scientists who will try to shield them. But, humans do not have a good record when it comes to diverse interactions with other types.

 

The answer has to be education and to liberalize thought when it come to this subject. Diversity is a positive-sum game, not a zero-sum game. Hopefully, if they can become thinkers and scientists, they will join our endeavor to the stars.


We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers. - Carl Sagan


#18
La Bodysnatcher

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WE CAN TALK TO DOLPHINS??? WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN??!!?


When you say "this is overrated" do you mean "I think this sucks?"

When you say "the majority hate it" do you mean "I hate it?"


#19
Italian Ufo

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Waiting now from Killer Whale to English



#20
Yuli Ban

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Waiting now from Killer Whale to English

I was wondering when you were going to bring up orcas. Actually I was thinking of orca to human language translation myself. I dunno man, that's gonna take a while. Last I heard, humans had a '9' on the scale of intelligence/language, and orcas had somewhere like a 30. We'd need AI to help us with that one.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.





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