/* ---- Google Analytics Code Below */

Saturday, July 31, 2021

On Communication with Animals

Are we closer to communication with parrots, chimps, dolphins?  Will it be a key aspect of AI? 

On Communication By Vinton G. Cerf  in CACM.

Communications of the ACM, August 2021, Vol. 64 No. 8, Page 5  10.1145/3472146

As I write this, summer is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere. I have just attended an online lecture about non-human species communication, sponsored by the Interspecies Internet project (interspecies.io). While the primary objective of the project is to determine experimentally whether it is possible to demonstrate communication between non-human species, there is also considerable interest in understanding the nature of intraspecies communication. The lecturer, Ofer Tchernichovski, explored years of experience with zebra finches. Of particular interest were their songs and how they propagated through generations of "tutors" and "pupils" among families of finches. Among the interesting observations he made was a concern that we sometimes bring preconceived but unwarranted notions to science. For example, consider the way in which we might analyze bird songs. We make audio recordings and spectral Fourier diagrams of the songs. We segment these vocalizations as if they might represent phonemes, but our segmentation could be inappropriately influenced by what we know of human speech.

Linguists have learned a great deal about human speech, how it is produced, and how the phonemes give structure to utterances. Whether we can apply such structural assumptions to bird songs is a matter for research. Tchernichovski points out that an alien arriving on planet Earth, even if it is capable of sensing human speech, might not have any idea how to segment sounds into phonemes and words. Language is a concept that organizes sound into phonemes, words, and sentences representing structures that follow grammatical rules and from which semantic content can be derived. The alien might not have any a priori clue as to how human languages are expressed, parsed, and give rise to semantic meaning. If the alien itself has language, it might adopt a protocol for human language discovery, starting, for example, with self-identification. .... "

No comments: