Radio Inspire

How To Learn Sign Language

How Close Are We to Talking With Animals?


You may not want to admit it, but at one time
in your life, you’ve talked to an animal. Maybe it was letting a dog know it was a good
dog or asking a cat where it’s been. Maybe you gave words of encouragement to an
elephant or scolded a sheep. Whichever animal it was you talked to, one
thing is for sure; it probably didn’t talk back. But what if it could? Scientists are working on ways to not only
understand what animals are saying, but to one day talk back, forever changing the way
we think about them. So, how close are we to talking with animals? Okay, I know what you’re all saying, animals
do “talk”, just not with words. They make noises, they have facial expressions
and body language. But, this isn’t exactly what we’re talking
about. I think it’s important to distinguish between
what we call communication and language. Communication is the more general term and
it really refers to this exchanging of signals, sharing and exchanging messages or signals
in a meaningful way. Language is a word that is fraught with interpretations
and involved in many debates, whether other animals have language or they’re communicating. Well the truth is that we suppose that animals
have language, but in a lot of cases, we have to actually prove this experimentally. But a lot of people are enchanted with the
idea of animals having language. No one has yet proven that an animal or a
species has language, partly because the idea of what constitutes a language hasn’t really
been established. But in the broad sense, language should be
a distinct and organized pattern of communication, with a near infinite number of combinations,
that has been learned and used voluntarily, not in a reactionary or instinctual manner. When your dog barks when a squirrel runs past,
this is a predictable and instinctual response, so we don’t consider it language. But there have been studies that have shown
some do communicate in a very complex manner that show traits of language. Now we just have to figure out how to decipher
what they’re saying. I think the possibility of us having a Rosetta
Stone with an animal is very real. What we have to do is we have to do the experiments
to determine the context in which animal signals are given. That context is going to give us the Rosetta
Stone. And that’s exactly what’s happening. Dr Con Slobodchikoff has been studying prairie
dog calls because within those high-pitched chirps, they actually are saying a lot. They are able to tell each other what the
species of predator is, and the alarm calls are given in response to a predator. The prairie dogs tell each other whether the
predator is a red-tailed hawk, is a coyote, is a domestic dog, or is a human. They can describe the physical features of
the predator. With humans, they can tell each other about
the color of clothes that the person is wearing, about the general size and shape of the person,
something about the speed of travel of the person. Combining years of recorded prairie dog alarms
with AI technology, he may one day be able to create a prairie dog to English translator. Unfortunately, determining that animals have
language is a difficult process. It’s not an easy one. It takes a lot of effort and time, and it
takes a certain amount of money. One of the main obstacles that slows us down
from communicating with other species is that we don’t have a shared code. While Dr Slobodchikoff is trying to use prairie
dog language as the shared code, others are looking to create a new code, one that can
hopefully bridge the gap between humans and animals. We’ve now created a four by eight foot touchscreen,
an interactive underwater touchscreen for dolphins that will allow them again choice
and control and it will allow us to try to understand what the kinds of signals they’re
using and their own interests, more about their cognitive abilities. Dr. Reiss and her team will observe the dolphin’s
choices and compare that to their vocalizations and mannerisms with the hope of decoding some
parts of the dolphin’s speech. Again, to create a Rosetta Stone to help translate
and hopefully one day talk to dolphins using their language. In our lab, we try to give the dolphins a
means of communication using a keyboard so that they could request and identify different
objects and that’s what we’re working on now so that they can produce a code themselves. Again, it’s such a challenge though to come
up with a shared language. Well, if it’s so hard to learn their language,
can’t we just teach them ours? Isn’t that an easier way to have an interspecies
conversation? Well, maybe.  For decades scientists have been working
with apes to teach them American Sign Language in order to learn more about both the species
and the origin of human language. 8:00 – “So the first Chimp was Washoe, she
was wild caught by the Air Force. They were collecting chimps for the space
program…instead of going into space she joined this sign language project. She was raised like a human child…all over
her caregivers used American sign language…” Washoe was able to learn over 200 signs, talk
to scientists and even taught another chimp how to sign. More studies popped up, most famously with
Koko the Gorilla, and for a moment the lines between human and animals blurred ever so
slightly. Some were still skeptical, arguing that these
apes were just mimicking signs for a reward instead of voluntarily conversing. But other studies were done that showed apes
talking amongst themselves with signs and having private conversations with each other. They seemed to be using language voluntarily. Now, even though great progress has been made,
some in this field feel uncomfortable with the idea of bringing in new apes, or any animal,
into captivity. As someone that’s been doing this for a
long time, I feel that this research should never be repeated…but the chimps that do
have sign language, i feel it’s important for us to continue to document it, study it…i
feel that it’s important work because it helps us understand more about chimps and see the
continuity between our species and other species on the planet and i feel that if we understand
them better we’re more likely to treat them, and the rest of other beings on the planet
in a better way. And that is what may be at stake here. That’s why scientists are interested in
studying interspecies communication and closing that gap between us and them. I think if we could talk to animals, it would
really change our relationship with them because people would realize that they are much more
like us in many respects. They have emotions. They have thoughts…It becomes much more
difficult than to treat these animals as property, as disposable creatures… MJ “We are taught with our culture…that
we’re so special and superior to other beings…when people see the chimps signing, it’s like
the chimps are reaching across that imaginary boundary that our culture has put up…for
a lot of people that helps them widen their circle of compassion… .it’s going to really perhaps end what Loren
Eiseley has called The Long Loneliness of us being the only species that can communicate
with each other. That would be very exciting to be able to
communicate with other species on this planet. If we were ever able to have a conversation
with an animal, we first need to decode every sound and movement they make when communicating. This would be our Rosetta Stone, the groundwork
for being able to talk back, a scenario that might change how we think, govern, work, innovate
and of course, eat. So, how close are we to talking to animals? We really have to abandon our arrogance, and
it’s our arrogance that keeps us from communicating with other humans in other cultures…and
it’s our arrogance that has probably slowed our progress in understanding what non-humans
are talking about. We’re already communicating with animals in
simple ways. If we then ask the question how close are
we to having a more sophisticated dialogue or exchange with other animals using a shared
set of symbols in sophisticated ways, I would say, we still have a long way to go and we’re
just in the infancy of understanding how to do it. I think it really requires decoding more of
what they’re doing in their own natural systems and finding ways of incorporating that into
what we want to create as a shared code. It’s complicated but it’s intriguing. Thanks for watching How Close Are We, let
us know in the comments what topics you want to cover in future episodes. If you want more How Close Are We, click here
to watch our playlist. And don’t forget to like share and subscribe.

100 Replies to “How Close Are We to Talking With Animals?”

  • The first thing most animal species are going to be telling us will be…

    "$top reproducing so fast and taking our land, you fuckin' humans!"

  • We can communicate a lot already, it's called your energy, see Cesar Millan, and Monty the horse whisper, it's about respect and willingness to understand nature.
    Humans and wolves developed a natural bond over a mutual benefit.

  • Soon enough scientists are gonna genetically breed humans and animals and furries will be a real thing…. oh god

  • I would love to discuss things like going to space with other animals ahah just imagine talking to a goat about space!! Teaching them all that stuff… p cool

  • i think they talk based on a more emotional sounds like dog whining feels sad etc

    so image their brain while playing their sounds and see how it interacts with different parts to determine its effect

  • This makes me think of Arthur Dent learning to fly – & to understand bird-talk, which is all about wind speed & direction & feather maintenance techniques. You should note that with many animals, it MAY be possible to create say, a computer program that interprets what the animals are saying. But it will be MUCH HARDER – maybe impossible – to communicate in the other direction! Still, the prospects are fascinating. Imagine actually understanding whether your dog or cat wants to go out, or wants a treat, or is just saying, "Hi there." tavi.

  • Wait; some scientists doubt that chimps actually communicate "for their own reasons" as opposed to "just wanting rewards."? Have these geniuses considered why HUMAN language evolved? Hint: it wasn't to discuss philosophy. It was for selfish reasons! Duh. Rikki Tikki.

  • Easier to communicate to them using animatronic robots since most of their language will be body language. Most of human communication is not directly due to the meaning of the words we use, how much more so for animals?

    We need to make avatars with which to communicate with animals

  • A Hungarian university has already recorded 800 unique and repeated dog barks, implying a large, sophisticated language as we humans only use 2,000 words per day.

  • how close are we? we already have talked with koko the gorilla. we taught her american sign language and learned quite a lot. sadly she never passed her knowledge onto her offspring and she passed on. we learned so much from it, though. she had very real emotions and it was almost like talking to a person with a mental disability. we aren't that far off from them.

  • My dog has a 'word' that means 'yes,' or 'I want it' depending on the context in which it is used. It consists of a sharp exhale (a fake sneeze) and head bob. He uses it when asked if he wants something, or when he sees someone holding or eating something he would like to have.

  • how stupid are these people, the only difference between humans and other animals is the language, if we were to " talk to them" that would mean that they have a conscience? yea no stfu

  • Not close, animals do not talk (except humans)! 😂 Animals react to body signs, smell and sounds and act upon them, that is the information that animals use. We could only maybe talk to primates and some other similar IQ animals like maybe dolphins, elephants…

  • me: your such a good kittie!
    cat: DUDE chill. Dont condescending me

    : Shit you can talk.
    cat;. and why are you touching your self so much!

  • May be if Bill and Ted would…………

    WRITE THEIR FREAKIN SONG
    We would be already, but they still haven't…just been sitting around for decades…..

  • When AI could translate animals.

    (Me coming back home after work)

    Me: Come here bubby…whooos mommy’s little baby, yeees, who’s been a good boy today, wanna treaty?
    Dog: Just get to it woman, give me the whole packet now can’t you see I’m drooling for my fix?!!!

  • It's a laudable idea, but, unfortunately, countless animals will have to suffer for this research. which is ironic.

  • How Close Are We to Talking With Animals? We almost got recognizable words from Mitch McConnell, ut the money stuffed ini his mouth made it hard to understand. And now we are forbidden to talk to the other animals in the WH zoo…

  • Yes animals have language. Why else do they have brain functions that is designed to understand language? When you teach a dog (or other animals) to understand commands it has to have a language center in the brain to understand those commands. And yes it does actually understand the words them self, not just the pitch of you'r voice. For example i could say the word "cat" in any tone, or even yell it or whisper it and the dog still ran to the nearest window if we where inside to look for the cat. I could even put it in the middle of a sentence, or "hide" it in other ways within normal talking and it still picks up the word.

    And it the animals that can be teached verbal commands have language centers in the brain to pick up these kind of words, it will be weary strange if this has not evolved from a ability to use the language to communicate among each other as well.

    And brain scans show that for example a dog on average knows around 170 human words.

  • Why don't just download the brain of the animal and investigate it in simulations? We could collect much more training data to train a neural network to decode the speech of the animal.

  • I find this very interesting.
    But even if we one day have communication technology with animals, I wonder what would motivate these animals to communicate with us.

  • An important thing to realize and understand is that you cannot expect an animal that has been taken away from its mother right after birth to develop its own complex language. You have to go to social animals which have been living for generations together to find that. Somehow humans expect more from a 1 year old animal than from a 1 year old human baby. You aren't born with language, you learn it, it is something that developed over generations through interaction.

  • This will never happen and even though I find the idea fascinating I wouldn’t want to talk with animals.

  • I saw a reflection of a few Angels just now in some of the animals in the last scene of this video. Maybe or maybe not. There’s just something magical about some animals felt like God send them to mankind to interact to decipher God’s wisdom.

  • It seems like AI should be able to mimic an animals sounds, observe and learn patterns, basically establishing their full observed language.

  • I talk to animals and I Understand most of what they reply, although I talk mine and they their language.

  • Hey! lol How mad would it be if/on first contact with an alien inelligence we recieve the message "Just give me the flappin fish!".

  • I’d argue that it is very likely that animals like Chimps, Parrots and Cetaceans (especially Dolphins) have languages.

  • i mean sure we can talk to them but don't expect you dog to have opinions on abstract concepts or even give tell you what you dont alrayd get about it.
    some animals like dolphins might have some funny inputs and stuff to say we did not know, but not like talking wil change much.
    If you want to understand animal, well its easy, if you spend time with one and try to see the world as it must see it you'll get it fairly easy.

  • wait i just heard to make animals speak
    WELL that is one of a terrible idea
    imagine walking your dog and in a suprise says
    "HAY MOTHER F***ER COME HEARE"
    to a squirl and it says
    "WELL IF YO WARENT SUCH A B*TCH I WOULD"
    for HOURS.

  • I wonder if there will be dialects between the same species in different places, or we will find that their languages are driven more from the instinctual level?

  • Dog barks at squirrel that runs past
    Instinctual response: Ahhh! Jesuz!
    Communicative language: Hey I'm walking here!

  • Scientists have used the Google AI to decode rat squeaks and they are pretty complex
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25LYVxTUZhM

  • If you were able to talk to any animal you are about to slaughter for meat, I would like to be there and hear you explain your actions.

  • So many movies on how to communicate with aliens and yet, we are not capable of communicating with other living things on our on planet.
    Great video!
    Thanks

  • Language is just a common trait among highly structured social species. Ours is just the most complex.

  • So do goats warn each other when horny muslims are nearby? What is the goat-word for ouch my ass-hole? Alauckbar…

  • i remember one claim that was made in the "koko" documentary was that "Micheal" the gorilla talked about a memory in his childhood when the humans killed his family and took him into captivity. he described what would have been a human using a firearm to shoot his mother in the face, and Micheal cried when talking about it.

    if this story was true, then obviously it isn't just an ape mimicking signs for reward, that is true conversation.

  • how you gonna translate animals language to human languages when google translate can't even translate human langauges correctly

  • I think this is good the goal should be for one animal to teach another or their young. Im on the fence if its right or wrong. I dont think they should be in little cages, but hey are much safer with humans than in the wild. Like Dogs we like them as friends over being wild dogs.

  • This will bring us closer to realities around us mostly probably some of these animals have basic languages they talk with each other they may not have complex thoughts but surely they have some basic languages and that may include feelings they share with each other that will be amazing if we can talk with them imagine i can tell my cat some manners living with us

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *