Peter Gabriel wants to talk with animals online

Mar 01, 2013
British singer Peter Gabriel performs during the first day of the Hop Farm music festival in Paddock Wood, Kent, on June 29, 2012. Gabriel joined big thinkers and one of the Internet's founding fathers Friday in launching an "Interspecies Internet" for animals to communicate with us and each other.

Peter Gabriel joined big thinkers and one of the Internet's founding fathers Friday in launching an "Interspecies Internet" for animals to communicate with us and each other.

"Perhaps the most amazing tool man has created is the Internet," the famous British singer said.

"What would happen if we could somehow find new interfaces—visual, audio—to allow us to communicate with the remarkable beings we share the planet with?"

His allies in the effort include Vint Cerf, a revered father of the Internet, along with a and a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor.

Gabriel showed a video of a jamming session he had with a bonobo playing the keyboard. The used one finger to improvise a tune that the singer overlaid with his distinctive voice.

"She did good," Gabriel said with a smile.

He told of growing up on a farm and often looking into the eyes of animals and wondering what they were thinking.

"What was amazing to me was that they seemed a lot more adept at getting a handle on our language than we were at getting a handle on theirs," Gabriel said.

"I work with a lot of musicians from around the world... Often we don't have any common language at all. We sit behind our instruments and it's a way to connect."

His curiosity led him to Diana Reiss, a psychologist known for dolphin intelligence research.

"Animals are conscious. They have emotions. They are aware," Reiss said. "One of my biggest dreams is that we give them the respect and attention they deserve."

MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld signed onto the effort after seeing a video of Gabriel's jam session and concluding that leaving the rest of the planet out of the Internet was an omission in need of correction.

"What is important about what these people are doing is they are beginning to learn how to communicate with species who are not us but share a sensory environment," said Cerf.

"These other sentient species should be part of the network too."

Cerf, now chief Internet evangelist at Google, spoke of an inter-species Internet as a test run for communicating with life encountered while exploring space.

"These interactions with other will teach us, ultimately, how we might interact with an alien from another world," he added. "I can hardly wait."

Seed money for the project will be used to develop a touchscreen device that dolphins can use to connect to the Internet.

"We want to engage people here to make smart interfaces to make this possible," Gabriel to a TED audience know for brilliant scientists and exceptional entrepreneurs.

"We are almost ready to turn it on."

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User comments : 20

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Lurker2358
2.2 / 5 (9) Mar 01, 2013
In the Star Trek novels, The Borg assimilated people's pets and livestock, and used them as scouts or as burden bearers.

We can see where this is going, one way or another, technology will develop to spying on everyone (so to prevent crimes like murder,) and because weirdos just want to speak "dog" or "monkey," so ultimately the computers probably will be smarter than humans, either individually or collectively.

"We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. You will be assimilated. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service our own. Negotiation is irrelevant. Resistance is futile."
betterexists
1 / 5 (3) Mar 01, 2013
Most important thing is on alternate days pairing & separating several pairs of 2 dogs each (for that matter multiple dogs also, what the heck) with Cell phones on them (of course turned constantly on) and RECORDING what they communicate with each other when they are away from one another! Care should be taken for the safety of the cell phones....and when they are separated...they should both be kept in solitary conditions and also under the Purview of Researchers (with & without them being aware of them being under control).
jamesbraginton
2.4 / 5 (8) Mar 01, 2013
Brainless
Telekinetic
2.2 / 5 (10) Mar 01, 2013
Brainless

Don't worry, James, we'll find something you can do.
Telekinetic
1.9 / 5 (9) Mar 01, 2013
"Animals are conscious. They have emotions. They are aware," Reiss said. "One of my biggest dreams is that we give them the respect and attention they deserve."

Now, as a civilization, we're getting somewhere.

Claudius
3.3 / 5 (12) Mar 01, 2013
I communicate with animals all the time. Some of them are humans.
Egleton
3.1 / 5 (9) Mar 02, 2013
What?? Are there other sentient beings on this planet? Why was I not informed?
This is a catastrophe. They were delicious.
FrankHerbertWhines
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 02, 2013
they could talk to me with grunts and moans while i am eating them?

hmmmmmmmmmmmm..................sounds familiar..........
Whydening Gyre
1 / 5 (7) Mar 02, 2013
Interesting and encouraging that this understanding has arrived. We are finally getting it.
And the really GOOD stuff is just around the corner...:-)
Anda
5 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2013
Lurker, I suggest that you should read instead both David Brin's elevation trilogys.
That should change your point of view... If you read books of course, not just watch Star Trek.
Tausch
1 / 5 (3) Mar 02, 2013
You have a good grasp of what sound does.
Your associations with sound will vary.
You call these variations in associations of sound language.
Noise is sound. Music is sound. Both are language.

"I work with a lot of musicians from around the world... Often we don't have any common language [sounds] at all. We sit behind our instruments and it's a way to connect." - PG


(The bracketed word is what I added)

Translation:
The sounds of our instruments is language that we have a better handle on than the sounds of our own spoken language(s).

The noble goal is premature. Understand all the sounds of humans before attempting to understand the sounds of any other life form.

NeutronicallyRepulsive
3 / 5 (4) Mar 02, 2013
Me and my dog talk frequently. I usually call: "Sit! Stay! Fetch!" He usually speaks before and during meals: "Woof! Woof! Woof!" (I'll translate for you) "Give. Me. Bacon!" (It's a context sensitive language). Cat doesn't talk to me. I'm probably a good slave to it. But I would like to know what dolphins think. Apes, I can guess.
Isaacsname
not rated yet Mar 02, 2013
I'm craaaaaaaaaazzzzzzzzzzyyyyyyyyyy
Jeweller
3 / 5 (2) Mar 02, 2013
Doctor Doolittle grunted, squeaked and skwaaked with the animals but they wouldn't grunt and squeak and speak and talk back. So it was futile.
And unbelieveably stupid.
Lurker2358
3 / 5 (4) Mar 02, 2013
Lurker, I suggest that you should read instead both David Brin's elevation trilogys.
That should change your point of view... If you read books of course, not just watch Star Trek.


Note that I said, "in the...novels". Novels are books.

The scenes in question didn't make it into any star trek movies or television series, probably because they were too offensive.

You do know that "First Contact" was written as the sequel to one of William Shatner's novels, right?

Being overly connected, even with animals!!, sparks of collectivism (far beyond the bad aspects of mere communism).

They're already talking about electronic contact lenses putting bios of people on year eyes while at a cocktail party, and now you want to hear what your dog has to say about it, presumably with a universal translator...

What the hell else is that, if not the precursors to a Borg-like cyborg race that consumes all life?!
d3bug
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 03, 2013
I think he has visited icanhascheeseburger far too often.
Guy_Underbridge
1 / 5 (3) Mar 03, 2013
What?? Are there other sentient beings on this planet?

...Besides the dolphins? uhm... No.
betterexists
1 / 5 (3) Mar 03, 2013
Not exactly recording dog sounds.......but associating them with their CNS Signals.......

Way to develop knowledge of Neuro Physiology (Not Numerology...the way to do Lottery)
Whydening Gyre
1 / 5 (5) Mar 03, 2013
Not exactly recording dog sounds.......but associating them with their CNS Signals.......

Way to develop knowledge of Neuro Physiology (Not Numerology...the way to do Lottery)

Pretty darned ambiguous there, Better...
hrfJC
1 / 5 (2) Mar 03, 2013
Interspecies vocal communication is highly unlikely...ever! But cranial nerve tapping to id possible thought sites may settle the question of whether animals "think" or are capable of one way or 2 way responses to human verbal or electrical brain impulses.

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