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The Animal Translators

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Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Germany used machine-learning algorithms to analyze 36,000 soft chirps recorded in seven mole rat colonies.

Credit: Felix Schmitt/The New York Times

Researchers are using machine learning (ML) systems to decode animal communication.

Scientists at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Brain Research used ML algorithms to analyze 36,000 mole rat chirps in seven colonies, identifying unique vocal signatures for each mole rat, as well as a distinct dialect for each colony.

The multi-institutional Project CETI (Cetacean Translation Initiative) hopes to decipher the communication of sperm whales through the efforts of ML specialists, marine biologists, roboticists, linguists, and cryptographers.

The project will involve recording whale sounds and movements via underwater microphones, robotic fish, and acoustic tags.

Other projects aim to build technologies that enable human-animal communication, with Hunter College's Diana Reiss envisioning "a Google Translate for animals."

From The New York Times
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