AI Might Soon Allow Us to Translate the Mysterious Dolphin Language

A Swedish startup dubbed Gavagai AB has recently started using artificial intelligence analysis software to unlock the secrets of the dolphin language, after successfully mastering 40 different human dialects. As the software improves, the startup believes that in the future it will even be possible for humans to directly communicate with dolphins.

Translating dolphin language

In the past, we’ve seen jokes about dolphins and humans talking to each other, but it seems talking to the aquatic mammals in now a real possibility, thanks to artificial intelligence (AI). Gavagai AB is currently working with researchers from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology to gather as much data as possible on the language dolphins speak, in order to soon decode it.

According to Digital Trends, research suggests dolphins communicate in a language that shares similarities with our own. It relies on sentences made out of individual words whose order is relevant to determine meaning; dolphins even pause to let each other speak. As such, decoding their language mainly involves linking a certain sound to a specific meaning.

Gavagai’s team, with the help of the company’s AI language analysis tool, will monitor Bottlenose dolphins at a wildlife park south of Stockholm, in an attempt to use collected data to compile a dolphin language dictionary.

This type of data can, in the future, allow us to communicate directly with the animal by translating our messages into the appropriate sounds. Given that dolphins are one of the most intelligent species on Earth, what we could expect in the future is far beyond our imagination – if the project succeeds, that is.

In the past, the U.S. Navy has used marine animals, including sea lions and dolphins, to carry out a variety of tasks such as locating underwater mines. Technology has already allowed us to bridge the gap between humans and dolphins, as we’ve already been able to pass certain short messages across, as expert Denise Herzing explained at TED back in 2013:

Understanding dolphins is just part of the big picture

Gavagai AB has stressed in its press releases that translating dolphin language is far from the only thing the startup is doing. Its CEO Lars Hamberg stated:

Over the last seven years, we’ve spent about $9 million working on implementing this research into an industrial scale implementation that can understand 45 different languages. On a lot of benchmark measures, we outperform all of our rivals. We’re now gaining a lot of interest, having toiled away under the radar for a long time

Gavagai’s CEO also told Bloomberg that the project – a four-year effort – has no specific business purpose, as research on the mammals will help the company develop its tools for other tasks.

Bots have already been able to not only crush us in board games, but also develop a scientific theory and write poetry. If the team’s software can indeed create a dictionary and allow us to communicate directly with dolphins, this is just another amazing achievement AI has accomplished in recent years.

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