Unlocking the Secrets of Animal Communication: SETIs Quest to Understand Sperm Whale Language
- Sperm whales have complex communication systems and could be the first species to have a language that humans can understand
- Scientists are using advanced machine learning techniques in an effort to translate whale language
- Prairie dogs, putty-nosed monkeys, bats and jumping spiders all have their own forms of communication
- Humans have historically not looked into animal communication due to our belief in the uniqueness of human language
- The Citation Translation Initiative (SETI) was launched in 2020 with the goal of interspecies communication between humans and sperm whales.
Accurately Translating Whale Communication: FacebookResearch and Seti Find New Way To Connect Species
- Researchers at Facebookresearch and Seti have developed a way to translate languages without a Rosetta Stone by comparing the statistical properties of words between two languages
- To do so, they created point clouds in which words are assigned positions based on their statistical properties
- This same technique could potentially be applied to sperm whale communication, with autonomous and semi-autonomous recording devices like tethered buoy arrays, tags attached to whales, and free swimming aquatic drones collecting data from echolocation clicks and codas in order to determine specific whales’ movements and conversations
- An algorithm has already been used to analyze codas from 100 thousand whales with 94% accuracy.
Threats to Ocean Ecosystems and the Unraveling of Cetacean Language
- Language is an evolutionary advantage and a great mystery of modern science
- Cetaceans, such as sperm whales, may have their own forms of language which cannot be directly translated
- Researchers hope to find patterns in the communication structure of cetaceans that can tell us more about their lives and intentions
- Marine heat waves and human activity are threatening ocean ecosystems and making it difficult for cold water species such as white-beaked dolphins to find new habitats
- Nebula is a streaming platform created by content creators which offers exclusive content and classes on how to create content.