Breakthrough in development of two-way dolphin-to-English translator

It sounds crazy, but if recent research turns out to be legitimate, we might  soon be able to talk to dolphins via a two-way dolphin-whistle-to-English translator.

Researchers have been trying to decode and understand the various clicks and  whistles made by dolphins since the 1960s, but mid-way through last year, after  decades of experimentation, they made a huge breakthrough. For  the first time ever, scientists were able to instantly translate a dolphin  whistle into its corresponding English word.

samadai-vision-3_799c9_lgIt happened back in August of 2013, when Denise Herzing, founder of the Wild Dolphin Project in  Jupiter, Fla., was swimming in the Caribbean and listening to the dolphin pod  she had been tracking for the past 25 years. Using a special  listening/translation system called CHAT, Herzing suddenly heard the word “sargassum” (a genus  of seaweed) come through her headset.

The specific whistle for “sargassum” was actually a word that Herzing and her  team had invented in dolphin-speak. Since the late ’90s, they’ve been using  artificial sounds that mimic real dolphin noises, and teaching them to the pod  in hopes that the dolphins would eventually adopt them and incorporate them into  their own communications. When the whistle came out, it was picked up by a pair  of hydrophones, recognized/translated instantaneously with CHAT ( short  for Cetacean Hearing and Telemetry), and  then spoken back to her in English.

In addition to listening for these kinds of invented whistles, Herzing and  her team hope to figure out how to translate the natural communications of  dolphins as well. The CHAT system (developed by Georgia Tech professor and  Google Glass project lead Thad  Starner) is designed with a pair of finely-tuned hydrophones that can pick  up the full range of dolphin sounds — many of which are imperceptible to human  ears. Once recorded, the software sifts through all the different whistles, and  uses pattern discovery algorithms to pinpoint language features. It starts by  labeling noises that deviate from an assumed average state, and then groups ones  that are similar to one another –sets of clicks or whistles with a distinct  sonic signature– until all potentially meaningful patterns are extracted.

The secret to success here is repetition. Over time, if dolphins are  exchanging information using these noises, then their behavior wouldn’t be  completely random. There’s likely to be some discoverable patterns that could be  recorded, codified, and eventually translated. With the help of today’s  sophisticated information processing tools, figuring out those patterns is  easier than ever. Starner’s algorithms have already discovered eight  distinct components from a sample of 73 whistles, and they’ve begun to match  certain parts of those whistles to specific dolphin-to-dolphin interactions. The  research is still coming along, but it’s extremely promising, and could very  well yield a working two-way dolphin-to-human translator in the next few  years

Source: Digital Trends

17 thoughts on “Breakthrough in development of two-way dolphin-to-English translator”

  1. Los animales todos tienen su idioma determinado solo que no hemos aprendido todavía a comprenderlos.

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