How Close Are We to Talking With Animals?

you may not want to admit it but at one time in your life you've talked to an animal maybe it was letting a dog know that it was a good dog or asking a cat where it's been maybe you gave words of encouragement to an elephant or scolded a sheep whichever animal it was that you talked to one thing is for sure it probably didn't talk back but what if it could scientists are working on ways to not only understand what animals are saying but to one day talk back forever changing the way that we think about them so how close are we to talking with animals okay I know you're all saying animals do talk just not with words they make noises they have facial expressions and body language but this isn't exactly what we are talking about I think it's important to distinguish between what we call communication and language communication is the more general term and it really refers to this exchanging of signals in a meaningful way and language is a word that is fraught with interpretations and involved in may debates whether other animals have language or are they communicating well the truth is that we suppose that animals have language in a lot of cases we have to actually prove this experimental no one is yet proven that an animal other than us has language partly because the idea of what constitutes a language hasn't really been established but in the broader sense language should be distinct and organized patterns of communication with a near infinite number of combinations that have been learned and used voluntarily not in a reactionary or instinctual manner when your dog barks at a squirrel that runs past this is a predictable instinctual response so we don't consider it language but there have been studies that show some do communicate in a very complex manner that show traits of language now we just have to figure out how to decipher what they're saying I think the possibility of us having a rosetta stone with an animal is very real what we have to do is we have to do the experiments to determine the context in which animal signals are given and that context it's going to give us the rosetta stone and that's exactly what's happening dr. Kahn's LeBeau checkoff has been studying prairie dog calls because within those high-pitched chirps they're actually saying a lot they are able to tell each other what the species of predator is and the long calls are given in response to predator the prairie dogs tell each other whether the predator is a red-tailed hawk is a coyote is a domestic dog or is a human they can describe the physical features of the predator so with humans they can tell each other about the color of clothes that's person is wearing about the general size and shape of the person something about the speed of travel of the person combining years of recorded prairie dog alarms with AI technology he may one day be able to create a prairie dog to English translate unfortunately determining that animals have language is a difficult process it's not an easy one so it takes a lot of effort and time and it takes a certain amount of money one of the main obstacles it that slows us down from communicating with other species is that we don't have a shared code while doctors LeBeau checkoff is trying to use prairie dog language as the shared code others are looking to create a new code one that can hopefully bridge the gap between humans and animals we've now created a four by eight foot touch screen an interactive underwater touch screen for dolphins that will allow them joy sand control and it will allow us to understand what they're the kinds of signals they're using and their own interests more about their cognitive abilities dr. Reece and her team will observe the dolphins choices and compare that to their vocalizations and mannerisms with the hope of decoding some parts of the dolphins speech again to create a rosetta stone to help translate and hopefully one day talk to dolphins using their language in our lab we tried to give the dolphins a means of communication using a keyboard so that they could request and identify different objects and that's what we're working on now so that they can produce a code themselves well if it's so hard to learn there can't we just teach them ours isn't that an easier way to have an interspecies conversation maybe for decades scientists have been working with apes to teach them American Sign Language in order to learn more about both the species and the origin of human language so the first chimp was Washoe she was wild-caught by the Air Force they were collecting chimps for the space program instead of going into space she joined this Sign Language project so she was raised like a human child and all of her caregivers use American Sign Language Washoe was able to learn over 200 signs talk to scientists and even taught another chimp how to sign more studies popped up most famously with koko the gorilla and for a moment the lines between human and animal blurred ever so slightly some were still skeptical though arguing that these Apes were just mimicking the signs for a reward instead of voluntarily conversing and other studies were done that showed apes talking amongst themselves with signs and having private conversations with each other they seem to be using language voluntarily now even though great progress has been made some in this field do feel uncomfortable with the idea of bringing new apes or any animal into captivity to study and someone that's been doing this for a long time I feel that this research should never be repeated but the chimps that do have sign language I feel that it's important for us to continue to document it study it and that's what may be at stake here that's why scientists are interested in studying interspecies communication and closing the gap between us and them I think if we could talk to animals it would really change our relationship with them because people would realize that they are much more like us in many respects we are taught with our culture that we're so special and superior to other beings when people see the chimp signing it's like the chimps are reaching across that imaginary boundary that our culture has put up for a lot of people that just helps them to widen their circle of compassion it's gonna really perhaps end what Lauren Isley has called the long loneliness of us being the only species that can communicate with each other they would be very exciting to be able to communicate with other species on this planet if we were ever able to have a conversation with an animal we'd first need to decode the sounds and movements that they make when communicating this would be our rosetta stone the groundwork for being able to talk back a scenario that might change how we think govern work innovate and of course eat so how close are we to talking with animals we really have to abandon our arrogance and it's our arrogance that keeps us from communicating with other humans in other cultures and it's our arrogance that has probably slowed our progress in understanding what 91/2 talking about we're already communicating with our animals in simple ways if we then ask the question how close are we to having a more sophisticated dialogue or exchange with other animals I would say we still have a long way to go and we're just in the infancy of understanding how to do it and I think it really requires decoding more of what they're doing in their own natural systems and finding ways of incorporating that into what we want to create as a shared code so it's complicated but it's intriguing thanks for watching how closer we let us know in the comments what topics you'd like us to cover in future episodes if you want more how close to we click here to watch our playlist and don't forget to like share and subscribe you

23 thoughts on “How Close Are We to Talking With Animals?

  1. People already have stupid conversation, talking to an monkey about bananas isn’t really a step up. This Is purely curiosity science.

  2. The first thing most animal species are going to be telling us will be…

    "$top reproducing so fast and taking our land, you fuckin' humans!"

  3. I think most higher mammals are probably capable of creating novel bits and pieces of language. My dog has developed a method of communicating with me that involves sitting on different rugs throughout the house.

  4. lan·guage



    the method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way.

    "a study of the way children learn language"


    a system of communication used by a particular country or community.

    "the book was translated into twenty-five languages"

    synonyms: tongue, speech, mother tongue, native tongue, dialect, vernacular; bhasha; informallingo

    "the English language"

    yep, no animal by human definition may have language … words LMFAO

  5. I'd love to get a prairie dog's opinion on the black&blue/gold&white dress.

  6. my animals talk to me all the time. my cats have their own language with me. I can tell what they want with their different meows, or even with a look. the "talk" all the time. I have one cat that doesnt get it though, he just meows at all the other cats and at us for no reason, he just wants to make noise with us

  7. Reenactment of talks with Koko, the gorilla who knew sign language, but translated to spoken language:

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