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(The New York Times)   Scientists working to establish meaningful communication between humans and dolphins. The biggest obstacle? Convincing the dolphins that humans are worth talking to   (nytimes.com) divider line 67
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2341 clicks; posted to Geek » on 21 Sep 2011 at 3:36 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2011-09-21 12:28:48 AM
This is with most animals.

Humans aren't even the smartest animals on the block. We're just more violent.
 
2011-09-21 12:30:02 AM
In other news, Dolphins are smarter than originally thought.
 
2011-09-21 12:39:28 AM
So long and thanks for all the fish.
 
2011-09-21 01:15:36 AM
 
2011-09-21 01:29:10 AM
FTA: "The key is going to be coming up with a system in which the dolphins want to communicate," said Stan Kuczaj, director of the Marine Mammal Behavior and Cognition Laboratory at the University of Southern Mississippi. "If they don't care, it won't work."

...so, how do you say "Heeeyybaaayybeee" in dolphin?
 
2011-09-21 04:01:27 AM
"dolphins have shown themselves to be adept at responding to human prompts, with food as a reward for performing a task"

So does my pet hedgehog. Kinda thin for full 25 years of research.
 
2011-09-21 04:15:48 AM
And this is why even if we ever contact alien life we won't be able to talk to them, apart from exchanging prime numbers and other basic mathematics.

We don't even know if whales or birds are communicating with each other when they vocalise.
 
2011-09-21 04:33:37 AM
Just think of all the dead languages and hieroglyphics and mathematical codes and stuff people have deciphered over the centuries, but we still can't figure out wtf animals are trying to say when they bark/meow/tweet/that weird noise dolphins make at us.

Science, I am disappoint.
 
2011-09-21 04:40:09 AM
Sweet, now we just need to invent some osmosis masks and find a hot girl named Siri.
/better not be obscure
 
2011-09-21 04:52:38 AM
they are just gonna bug us about where Shaylar is.
 
2011-09-21 04:53:17 AM

dookdookdook: Just think of all the dead languages and hieroglyphics and mathematical codes and stuff people have deciphered over the centuries, but we still can't figure out wtf animals are trying to say when they bark/meow/tweet/that weird noise dolphins make at us.

Science, I am disappoint.


Yeah we can. (new window)
 
2011-09-21 05:01:34 AM

doglover: Humans aren't even the smartest animals on the block. We're just more violent organized.


FTFY.

But yes, I agree: Man is the only animal that is an expert at killing large quantities of itself.
 
2011-09-21 05:04:33 AM

Trapper439: We don't even know if whales or birds are communicating with each other when they vocalise.


Actually, we can ascertain with a great deal of probability what they are communicating, and most of the time all they are really saying is "here I am". Mostly to find a mate.
 
2011-09-21 05:05:28 AM

burning_bridge: Yeah we can. (new window)


Great, so we can tell whether the dog's pissed off, hungry, or depressed. Not really a lot of information exchanged there.

I'm talking about

bark! bark!
*universal translator beeps*
Come quick! Timmy fell down the well again!

caliber stuff.
 
2011-09-21 05:07:54 AM
Know how babies and toddlers can communicate to you basic info like hunger/pain/fear without language? Same thing animals do.
 
2011-09-21 05:08:40 AM

Ishkur: most of the time all they are really saying is "here I am". Mostly to find a mate.


Sounds like we have a lot in common.

too easy?
 
2011-09-21 05:40:10 AM
"For the next 45 minutes, she engages the curious creatures in a game of keep-away, using a piece of Sargassum seaweed like a dog's chew toy."

Unfortunately, she doesn't get that the dolphins view her as the dog
 
2011-09-21 05:42:01 AM
Until they get a better offense and a new quarterback, I have no interest in Dolphins.
 
2011-09-21 05:42:21 AM

dookdookdook: Just think of all the dead languages and hieroglyphics and mathematical codes and stuff people have deciphered over the centuries, but we still can't figure out wtf animals are trying to say when they bark/meow/tweet/that weird noise dolphins make at us.

Science, I am disappoint.


languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu
ob
 
2011-09-21 05:48:04 AM

dookdookdook: Just think of all the dead languages and hieroglyphics and mathematical codes and stuff people have deciphered over the centuries, but we still can't figure out wtf animals are trying to say when they bark/meow/tweet/that weird noise dolphins make at us.

Science, I am disappoint.


This presupposes animals are "saying" anything at all. We only know of a few species that can even understand things like abstract concepts, and fewer still that have the kind of communication complexity needed to express them. With most animals, anything more nuanced than a mating call and you may as well be discussing philosophy with a brick wall.
 
2011-09-21 06:16:27 AM

dookdookdook: I'm talking about
bark! bark!
*universal translator beeps*
Come quick! Timmy fell down the well again!
caliber stuff.


A couple things:

First, it varies from animal to animal. Birds, most especially, don't possess enough mental faculties to abstract anything outside of "here I am", and 99% of the time, that's ALL they're saying. My personal experience is with pigeons. It's the male pigeons that do all the cooing and they have two specific calls, both for females in the vicinity. One says "let's mate" and the other says "let's build a nest" (both variants of "here I am"). It may vary, but that is basically the extent of anything you're going to get from any bird through the universal translator, including the ones that mimic human speech and sounds like the totally awesome and versatile lyre bird.

Now, domestic dogs are different. The dog is a manufactured animal. It doesn't exist in nature. It was created - genetically engineered, long before man knew DNA existed - for service, hunting, labor and companionship. And due to this special relationship, it is very much entwined with humanity, moreso than any other animal (even cats, though cats were never domesticated for service and companionship like dogs were, they were experts at keeping vermin away).

Because of this, a well-trained dog's thought processes may seem to mimic humans very closely, but that's just anthropocentrism: For one, we specifically bred dogs that would exhibit those traits over thousands of years but they are still superficial and not at all indicative of the dog's genuine thought processes, and for another, we tend to attach human-like behaviors on animals through apophenia, failing to realize that they see reality through entirely different senses than ours, and may not have any comprehension of human logic and reasoning at all (even if it appears like they do).

So when service dogs are barking for help, they're never saying anything as specific as "Timmy fell down the well". Dogs don't vocalize as a means to transmit and receive information like we do. In other words, it's not what we say but HOW we say it that dogs listen for. So when Timmy falls down the well, the dog picks up the fear in his voice (and probably smells it too), and that's what sets him off to find help. When he finds a grownup, what he's really barking is something the universal translator would likely decode as "Timmy afraid", though the dog doesn't understand why or how.
 
2011-09-21 06:33:17 AM

Ishkur: Birds, most especially, don't possess enough mental faculties to abstract anything outside of "here I am", and 99% of the time, that's ALL they're saying...One says "let's mate" and the other says "let's build a nest" (both variants of "here I am").


Well those are still significantly different thoughts. If you want to oversimplify, you could summarize 80% of human male-female interaction into "Wanna have sex?" also.

Obviously you wouldn't discuss philosophy with a bird, but it'd just be cool to see things from an animal's POV, gauge how intelligent they are and how much reasoning they are capable of, and things like that. And being able to "talk" to them in some fashion would be the best way, obviously. Even if their methods of communication aren't necessarily through language, they obviously can communicate in very complex ways. Look at bees, for a start.

Not dogs, though. Yeah, dogs are tards.
 
2011-09-21 06:43:57 AM

dookdookdook: Well those are still significantly different thoughts. If you want to oversimplify, you could summarize 80% of human male-female interaction into "Wanna have sex?" also.


Well, yeah. Humans are animals. All animals possess but two basic impulses:

1) Preservation of the self
2) Preservation of the species

Everything else is just semantics.

dookdookdook: Obviously you wouldn't discuss philosophy with a bird, but it'd just be cool to see things from an animal's POV, gauge how intelligent they are and how much reasoning they are capable of


It's highly unlikely that you would get any meaningful topic of conversation from any animal other than food and sex, which is all they're interested in.

dookdookdook: Look at bees, for a start.


They're just sharing map coordinates.
 
2011-09-21 06:45:18 AM

Ishkur: First, it varies from animal to animal. Birds, most especially, don't possess enough mental faculties to abstract anything outside of "here I am", and 99% of the time, that's ALL they're saying. My personal experience is with pigeons. It's the male pigeons that do all the cooing and they have two specific calls, both for females in the vicinity. One says "let's mate" and the other says "let's build a nest" (both variants of "here I am"). It may vary, but that is basically the extent of anything you're going to get from any bird through the universal translator, including the ones that mimic human speech and sounds like the totally awesome and versatile lyre bird.


lshkur- I don't claim to have performed double-blind studies, or that this could stand up to scientific rigor, but...

I am a fan or the local crow population (rural Washington State). It seems that they are always chatting-who knows about what. What is interesting is that I can understand a few of their words. There seems to be a specific command for "the bald eagle is here, lets go kick some butt". When I hear that call, I immediately start looking for the eagle, and the follow up dive-bombing missions.

Also my neighbor occasionally tosses out dried corn, a crow favorite. The crows also seem to have a word for "dinner at Karen's House", because every crow in the area shows up. I can also recognize this vocal call.

Maybe, as you say, they are both just "I'm here" calls...but even as a human I know the difference between "eagle" and "corn".

It might be stretching it too far, but there really does seem to be a call between mates for "its your turn to feed the kids".
 
2011-09-21 06:52:55 AM

mr_a: I am a fan or the local crow population (rural Washington State). It seems that they are always chatting-who knows about what. What is interesting is that I can understand a few of their words.


I stand corrected. Birds may be more intelligent than I thought:

www.imbecile.me
 
2011-09-21 07:27:05 AM

pup.socket: "dolphins have shown themselves to be adept at responding to human prompts, with food as a reward for performing a task"

So does my pet hedgehog. Kinda thin for full 25 years of research.


You want thin? Look into the space junk people drool over.

Ishkur: mr_a: I am a fan or the local crow population (rural Washington State). It seems that they are always chatting-who knows about what. What is interesting is that I can understand a few of their words.

I stand corrected. Birds may be more intelligent than I thought:

[www.imbecile.me image 600x356]


They look more exponential to me.
 
2011-09-21 07:38:48 AM

Quantum Apostrophe: They look more exponential to me.


The Fibonacci sequence is (essentially) exponential.
 
2011-09-21 07:45:39 AM

Quantum Apostrophe: Look into the space junk people drool over.


What space junk, the weather satellites, the communication satellites or the GPS?
 
2011-09-21 07:57:54 AM

LewDux: dookdookdook: Just think of all the dead languages and hieroglyphics and mathematical codes and stuff people have deciphered over the centuries, but we still can't figure out wtf animals are trying to say when they bark/meow/tweet/that weird noise dolphins make at us.

Science, I am disappoint.

[languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu image 298x398]
ob


Really? You couldn't have posted the far more apropos one?

individual.utoronto.ca
 
2011-09-21 08:02:16 AM

Ishkur: doglover: Humans aren't even the smartest animals on the block. We're just more violent organized.

FTFY.

But yes, I agree: Man is the only animal that is an expert at killing large quantities of itself.


We're NOT more organized. A pack of wolves or orca does the same things a group of S.E.A.L.s would do in closing with a target, only without radios or advanced military training. Their life depends on their organization. Ants make houses out of themselves in South America. Humans can barely keep their illusory little states afloat against entropy, let alone hone their organization.

No, humans' only real talent, the reason we have the biggest cities and earthworks and the spare time to go to the moon, is because we can kill anything dead. Lions eat us in Africa? We kill the lions and wear its skin. Bears eat us in Japan? We kill the bears and make samurai boots with the fur. Wolves kill us in America? We kill them so hard coyotes are seen in forests on the East coast instead of staying in the western desert where they belong.

Once predators are removed, you have time to make a civilization. Now, that doesn't mean you're gettin' technology. Look at the Indian tribes of North America: they were every bit as ancient as the Aztecs, moreso even. But they remained nomadic while the Aztecs built cities and great stonework even the Europeans couldn't match. The Europeans invented ships to carry their soldiers far and wide. That's how they beat the Aztecs. In a stand up fight in the jungle the gun and iron armor wasn't much of an advantage over the atalatal and a jaguar pelt. But when you can bring in trade goods and more troops from lands unknown while your enemies can just offer more of what they always had, you can turn the neighboring kingdoms against them. Boom, South America speaks Spanish. Meanwhile the Indians lived in harmony with nature and usually got by pretty okay with their neighbors as nomads are wont to do and just kinda did their thing for thousands of years. No need to advance technology when your culture is as a nice place.

I kinda got lost there for a minute. Anyway, animals are oft smarter than humans. If I was a crow, I wouldn't bother inventing an alarm clock and money either. I can fly and I have a brain. What more could a thinking being want? Also, if I stay in one place too long, like an atelier for example, something will eat me.
 
2011-09-21 08:16:11 AM

dookdookdook: Even if their methods of communication aren't necessarily through language, they obviously can communicate in very complex ways.


Crows pass down information through language. It's known.

Scientists found they remembered faces, so when they check on the nests, they had to wear masks. The crows remember the masks. So they had to rotate masks often.

When the babies grew up and made their own nests, the scientists began to reuse the masks and discovered that animals with no previous contact with the mask behaved violently towards the old masks. The crows tell tales.

Also, places where crows are killed are avoided in other crows' annual migrations after they have contact with the victimized groups.

Animals are way smarter than humans give them credit. In most cases, we just don't have the physiology to communicate directly. Like elephants. Elephants speak in infrasound. Sometimes as low as 4Hz. That kind of voice travels for miles and takes an elephant's voice box to produce. We can't make, we can't hear it. It's only in the past few decades we even became aware of it. For all we know, elephants have a language every bit as complex as humans. There's no way we could have known. It's indetectable to our ears.
 
2011-09-21 08:21:51 AM

doglover: We're NOT more organized. A pack of wolves or orca does the same things a group of S.E.A.L.s would do in closing with a target, only without radios or advanced military training. Their life depends on their organization. Ants make houses out of themselves in South America. Humans can barely keep their illusory little states afloat against entropy, let alone hone their organization.


You're confusing organization with cooperation, which social animals do in spades. And your knowledge of history is ignorant and myopic.

What I mean by organization is anticipatory reasoning, behavior, and the ability to detect patterns in the causes and consequences of events. Humans plan based on what they think will happen next, not on what is happening now (and by that I mean what will happen next month, next year, or ten years from now....not what will happen in an hour). We observe, examine, extrapolate, record and react to changing conditions. And we pass this knowledge on to future generations for continuity. This requires organization. We are the only life-form on the planet that does this.

For all your crappy, tired exposition that man is the apex species because of his innate ability to kill, you fail to mention that man is the only animal that engages in resource management. There are no environmentalists in the animal kingdom -- all overwhelmingly successful species will multiply carelessly until they consume their entire ecosystem, wiping themselves out in the process. We humans are alone in this self-awareness, cognizant of the consequences if we do such a foolish thing to our environment. We make efforts to prevent it from happening. This requires organization. We are the only life-form on the planet that does this.

Anticipatory behavior was a crucial first step toward security, stability and comfort in human living. Ancient man developed an awareness of weather patterns when he noticed that certain rivers always flooded on certain days of the year, naturally irrigating the land. By hanging around these floodplains and building permanent settlements, a replenishing supply of food was secured. But sometimes the rivers didn't flood, and people panicked because it broke the pattern that they relied on for so long, leading to anxiety, famine and chaos. So man eventually decided not to be so reliant on flooding rivers for sustenance. Planning and strategic thinking led to irrigation and agriculture, which led to a food and energy surplus, which freed people up to lie around thinking about things rather than work on finding their next meal all the time. From this surplus of time and energy came law, government, science, philosophy, art, writing, language -- in short, civilization and all the abstract conceptualizations that we enjoy today. This requires organization. We are the only life-form on the planet that does this.

Understand?
 
2011-09-21 08:28:10 AM
For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much - the wheel, New York, wars and so on - whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man - for precisely the same reasons.
 
2011-09-21 08:41:24 AM

Ishkur: Understand?


Yes. I understand that my half assed assertions are more coherent than yours.

www.paulchefurka.ca

List of extinct animals. (new window)

Neither of us are writing research papers here. Humans over-multiply and destroy ecosystems plenty. The rise of technology is like nothing else found in any other species. We're both dead wrong on our main points.

Who cares? It's fark.com.
 
2011-09-21 08:43:48 AM
If you want a dolphin's attention, you need to dress up like a porpoise and act a little slutty.
 
2011-09-21 08:52:55 AM
Cue Dr. Herzing's inner feeling through psychological projection....
 
2011-09-21 08:55:18 AM

doglover: Yes. I understand that my half assed assertions are more coherent than yours.


Not only are my assertions correct and more coherent, but my reading comprehension is better:

doglover: Neither of us are writing research papers here. Humans over-multiply and destroy ecosystems plenty. The rise of technology is like nothing else found in any other species. We're both dead wrong on our main points.


You are absolutely right here, however this isn't my main point and never was.

I said "all overwhelmingly successful species [except for man] will multiply carelessly until they consume their entire ecosystem, wiping themselves out in the process".

The bold is the part you forgot to read. Until we actually wipe ourselves out, your counter argument is inadmissible.
 
2011-09-21 09:01:22 AM
No problem. Just convert it all to binary and figure it out from there. Or is that whales?

/why yes, I did just finish reading Christopher Moore's Fluke. Why do you ask?
 
2011-09-21 09:05:30 AM

Ishkur: I said "all overwhelmingly successful species [except for man] will multiply carelessly until they consume their entire ecosystem, wiping themselves out in the process".

The bold is the part you forgot to read. Until we actually wipe ourselves out, your counter argument is inadmissible.


www.australianclimatemadness.com
 
2011-09-21 09:09:33 AM
i.saucesome.net
 
2011-09-21 09:26:17 AM

Pants full of macaroni!!: No problem. Just convert it all to binary and figure it out from there. Or is that whales?

/why yes, I did just finish reading Christopher Moore's Fluke. Why do you ask?


Trinary is the way to go
 
2011-09-21 09:33:53 AM

doglover: This is with most animals.

Humans aren't even the smartest animals on the block. We're just more violent.


Meh. Dolphins rape and murder too, were just better at it. Theyre probably dicks though, always got that shiat eating grin...
 
2011-09-21 09:38:15 AM
The biggest obstacle? Morgan Freemans career...

daddyforever.com
 
2011-09-21 09:44:28 AM

Ishkur: "all overwhelmingly successful species [except for man] will multiply carelessly until they consume their entire ecosystem, wiping themselves out in the process".


Although, I'd like to point out that usually a species overpopulates and then dies-back. Actual wiping out is usually the exception to the rule, and it definitely requires other forces beyond overpopulation- climactic changes, competition, etc.
 
2011-09-21 10:24:00 AM

LewDux: Pants full of macaroni!!: No problem. Just convert it all to binary and figure it out from there. Or is that whales?

/why yes, I did just finish reading Christopher Moore's Fluke. Why do you ask?

Trinary is the way to go


^^^^^ +1/Like

/need to read Brin again
//Where did I put my books?!
///Uplift..double trilogy? Sooo goood
 
2011-09-21 11:06:41 AM
"Faaa Luuuv Paaaa!"

"Faaa Luuuv Beeee!"
 
2011-09-21 11:45:26 AM

pup.socket: Quantum Apostrophe: Look into the space junk people drool over.

What space junk, the weather satellites, the communication satellites or the GPS?


Good old Quantum Apostrophe, never missing an opportunity to crusade against the space program and its fans. Seriously, he may as well replace himself with a bot for all the originality or depth to his posting.
 
2011-09-21 11:46:36 AM

Zeroth Law: LewDux: Pants full of macaroni!!: No problem. Just convert it all to binary and figure it out from there. Or is that whales?

/why yes, I did just finish reading Christopher Moore's Fluke. Why do you ask?

Trinary is the way to go

^^^^^ +1/Like

/need to read Brin again
//Where did I put my books?!
///Uplift..double trilogy? Sooo goood


I liked the first few, but I'm like 150 pages into Brightness Reef, and it's been an absolute bear to read. It's quite awful so far. I swear there's like 25 characters across 6 species I'm supposed be following, and I'm not even sure I understand the species there at all. And the extra 2. Also... a whole bunch of people from 6 different races all wanted to abandon civilization and all run off to the same few square mile patch (the Slope) on the same recouping planet? The hell?

I'm normally a fan of separate convergent stories, but I think there's too many going here with too many characters I don't have even a remote resonance with.

Is it better to skip to Infinity's Shore and Heaven's Reach? Or will those be more of the same?
 
2011-09-21 11:55:36 AM
I thought they (scientist) figured out that dolphins are propably not much more intelligent than rats. Their brains are just proportionally large because they need the extra mass, which is mostly white matter, for insulation in the water.

What was the name of the comedian who asked "why can't dolphins figure out the net = death equation?"
 
2011-09-21 11:57:43 AM
If we learn to communicate with dolphins and can somehow carry on conversations or at least send instant messages or something, I wonder how religious institutions that deal in souls will react. With an intelligent species that we can talk to, I'd imagine that there will be a big market for dolphin evangelists.

I was just talking to my wife about this last night after finishing the Draco Tavern.
 
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