Nowadays, scientists are busy working on a “pet translator” which could finally let owners communicated with their dogs and cats.
The researchers from Northern Arizona University that are using artificial intelligence to analyze vocalizations and facial expressions believe that they will have the technology ready for under a decade. The team, led by Dr. Con Slobodchikoff who is a professor emeritus of biology at the university, was working with prairie dogs (which are not technically dogs) for the last 30 years. They have found that the high – pitched calls that they make to warn each other of predators vary depending on the type of predator.
With the help of a computer scientist, Dr. Slobodchikoff had the ability to turn these vocalizations into English.
Dr. Slobodchikoff told NBC News:
“I thought, if we can make this with prairie dogs, we can certainly do it with dogs and cats as well.”
Now, his team is busy assembling thousands of hours of video of dogs barking, so the computer can analyze their different sounds, as well as the facial expression that they make. Eventually, the algorithm will have the ability to interpret what these noises mean and when they will be uttered and translate them for humans.
The ultimate goal is to create a gadget which can translate what our do wants – so “woof, woof” will become “I want to for a walk”.
For instance, it could also be used to limit animal violence by decoding when a dog is angry or if it is simply afraid.
Dr. Slobofchikoff said:
“You could use that information and instead of backing the dog into a corner, you can give the dog more space.”
Even though it is unlikely that humans will ever have the ability to communicate on complex topics with the best friend of the man, separate research has indicated that they have a much greater emotional intelligence than we give them credit for.
The University College London has similar findings and Sophie Scott, a professor of neuroscience, has presented them at the 2017 Institute Christmas Lectures.
According to her, our tendency to view dogs as well as other pets like we would a child means also underestimate them.
Meanwhile, dogs will view their owner in the same way as a wolf pack would view the alpha male.
Professor Scott told The Times:
“There was a study this year which showed that dogs do not like being hugged. You look at photographs of dogs being hugged by people and they show objective signs of distress.
They really like being with their owners, they want to be with their owners, but they don’t want to be held. It provokes anxiety in them: as an animal, they want to have the ability to move freely.
And pretty much everyone’s reaction to this was: well, I do not think that is my dog. It was a very good example of this asymmetry. Dogs are great at reading us, but we are pretty shocked at reading them.”