Support the IEET




The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States. Please give as you are able, and help support our work for a brighter future.



Search the IEET
Subscribe and Contribute to:


Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view




whats new at ieet

Superintelligences Are Already Out There!

For a Longer, Brighter and More Just Future

The small and surprisingly dangerous detail the police track about you

Alan Watts by South Park creators (All in one in HD)

Prototype

The Singularity - feat. Ray Kurzweil & Alex Jones


ieet books

Virtually Human: The Promise—-and the Peril—-of Digital Immortality
Author
Martine Rothblatt


comments

AmbassadorZot on '#22: Ray Kurzweil on Rationality and the Moral Considerability of Intelligent Machines' (Dec 20, 2014)

pansi4 on 'The Slut Shaming, Sex-Negative Message in the Christmas Story: It's Worth a Family Conversation' (Dec 20, 2014)

Vigrith on 'Technoprogressive Declaration - Transvision 2014' (Dec 20, 2014)

ericscoles on 'The small and surprisingly dangerous detail the police track about you' (Dec 20, 2014)

instamatic on 'Wage Slavery and Sweatshops as Free Enterprise?' (Dec 19, 2014)

instamatic on 'Four questions for Social Futurists, and others' (Dec 18, 2014)

CygnusX1 on 'Four questions for Social Futurists, and others' (Dec 18, 2014)







Subscribe to IEET News Lists

Daily News Feed

Longevity Dividend List

Catastrophic Risks List

Biopolitics of Popular Culture List

Technoprogressive List

Trans-Spirit List



JET

Enframing the Flesh: Heidegger, Transhumanism, and the Body as “Standing Reserve”

Moral Enhancement and Political Realism

Intelligent Technologies and Lost Life

Hottest Articles of the Last Month


Review of Michio Kaku’s, Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century
Dec 15, 2014
(9615) Hits
(0) Comments

What Will Life Be Like Inside A Computer?
Dec 7, 2014
(8371) Hits
(0) Comments

Bitcoin and Science: DNA is the Original Decentralized System
Nov 24, 2014
(7960) Hits
(0) Comments

Is AI a Myth?
Nov 30, 2014
(5218) Hits
(32) Comments



IEET > Rights > Personhood > Vision > Technoprogressivism > Staff > Kyle Munkittrick

Print Email permalink (1) Comments (6149) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


Learning the Alien Language of Dolphins


Kyle Munkittrick
By Kyle Munkittrick
Science Not Fiction

Posted: Feb 19, 2011

Humans and dolphins are inventing a common language together. This is big news!

In all the recent hoopla over the world ending due to being asteroid-smashed, man becoming immortal thanks to the Singularity in 2045, and Watson the trivia-machine winning on Jeopardy!, the story of budding interspecies communication got under-reported.

Denise Herzing and her team with the Wild Dolphin project has begun developing a language to allow humans and dolphins to communicate. If successful, the ability to communicate with dolphins would fundamentally change animal intelligence research, animal rights arguments, and our ability to talk to aliens.


Dolphins


Herzing and her team faced two huge problems when it came to talking to dolphins. The first problem is that the current state of animal language research creates an asymmetrical relationship between humans and the animals with whom they wish to communicate. The second problem is that (save for parrots) animal vocal cords cannot replicate human speech, and visa versa.

Most, if not nearly all, animal language research involves either studying how animals communicate with one another, or teaching them a human language to see if they can communicate with us. There is a problem with both methods - humans don’t learn much (if any) animal language in the process.

Think of it this way: how many commands does the smartest dog you’ve met know? Some border collies, like Chaser, can learn upwards of 1000 words. Now how many words do you know in dog? Or parrot? How about gorilla or whale? Know any corvid? I bet you can at least read cuttlefish patterns, right? No?

Of course, I’m being facetious, but with a purpose: up to this point, humans have always attempted to understand animal language by teaching animals how to talk to humans. The glaring flaw in this process of teaching animals to use human language is that it is nary impossible to prove the animal is using language, not merely playing a very complex game of repeater.

There is a second, equally interesting problem. Think about your favorite science fiction series populated by aliens (for me, that’s a toss up between Star Trek and Mass Effect). At some point in that series, an alien has introduced itself as having a very un-alien name, like “Grunt.” The reason? “My real name is unpronounceable by humans.”

That is rarely an actual problem, because as it always works out the other alien species (why do we refer to aliens as “races” btw?) can pronounce our human words. One of the only films I can think of that doesn’t have this common sci-fi fallacy is District 9. Humans and prawn seem to be able to understand the other’s language in a rudimentary way, despite neither species being even remotely able to reproduce the other’s sounds.

Cetaceans pose the same problem: humans cannot whistle, squeak, chortle, or pop the way a beluga or bottle-nose can. Further, the higher squeals of some dolphins and the low rumbles of some whales are beyond the human auditory spectrum. Dolphins can’t say a word in human languages and we certainly can’t do more than parody the spectrum of cetacean sounds.

Which presents quite a question: How in the heck did Herzing figure out a way to both not teach the dolphins an anthropocentric language and ensure the language was speakable by both species?

READ THE REST


Kyle Munkittrick, IEET Program Director: Envisioning the Future, is a recent graduate of New York University, where he received his Master's in bioethics and critical theory.
Print Email permalink (1) Comments (6150) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


COMMENTS


Dolphin language is so much richer than human
They not only use sonar echoes to see at a distance they can reproduce the echoes. So when one tells another “I’ll meet you there” He can send a picture of the place (sonar echoes).
The ability to talk in pictures is one I wish I had.





YOUR COMMENT (IEET's comment policy)

Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: Watson: Supercharged Search Engine or Prototype Robot Overlord?

Previous entry: Language as a Window into Human Nature

HOME | ABOUT | FELLOWS | STAFF | EVENTS | SUPPORT  | CONTACT US
SECURING THE FUTURE | LONGER HEALTHIER LIFE | RIGHTS OF THE PERSON | ENVISIONING THE FUTURE
CYBORG BUDDHA PROJECT | AFRICAN FUTURES PROJECT | JOURNAL OF EVOLUTION AND TECHNOLOGY

RSSIEET Blog | email list | newsletter |
The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States.

Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
56 Daleville School Rd., Willington CT 06279 USA 
Email: director @ ieet.org     phone: 860-297-2376