Could dogs one day speak ‘human’? | Daily Mail

In just ten years time your dog could talk to you instead of barking, according to leading experts.

Advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning mean the Dr Dolittle dream of communicating with animals could soon be a reality.

One researcher is currently collecting thousands of videos of dogs barking, growling and moving around, and is using them to teach an algorithm to understand canine communication.

Professor Con Slobodchikoff from Northern Arizona University is developing new technology that interprets the calls of the prairie dog and says it could eventually be used to interpret other animals.

North American rodents prairie dogs have a sophisticated ways of calling group members and alerting them to danger.

They warn other members of the pack about potential dangers in great detail – even describing a threat as being a ‘thin, brown coyote approaching quickly’.

‘I thought, if we can do this with prairie dogs, we can certainly do it with dogs and cats,’ Professor Slobodchikoff, who has been studying the animals for more than 30 years, told NBC news.

A researcher for the internet shopping behemoth Amazon, William Higham – a so-called futurologist – has also declared these devices might now be available within a decade.

‘The amount of money now being spent on pets means there is huge consumer demand for this. Somebody is going to put this together’, he said last year.

If experts can use technology to understand a dog’s thoughts we might be able to help those that are badly behaved or aggressive. ‘You could use that information and instead of backing the dog into a corner, give the dog more space’, he said. He predicts once people can start talking to animals, they’ll realise they are living, breathing, thinking beings that have much to contribute to people’s lives.

Last year researchers found they could use artificial intelligence to work out if a sheep was happy or sad from its face. Experts believe this could help farmers detect pain and a range of other diseases. The technology for assessing facial expressions was first developed for use on humans, but researchers realised that it could be used to decipher emotions in animals. It is hoped that scanners could be placed at water troughs – or wherever a flock gathers – to automatically detect when a sheep is suffering. In a large herd the system could pick out sheep who are in distress. It could pick up common diseases such as foot rot and mastitis, a painful udder infection.

 

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