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.
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In just ten years time your dog or cat could talk to you instead of barking or meowing, according to leading experts (stock image)
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.
Back in 2013, Professor Slobodchikoff who is author of ‘Chasing Doctor Dolittle: Learning the Language of Animals,’ suggested this technology would be available within ten years with extensive research.
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.
Professor Con Slobodchikoff is developing new technology that interprets the calls of the prairie dog (pictured, stock) and says it could eventually be used to interpret other animals
‘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.
Professor Slobodchikoff believes extensive filming with dogs could help decipher these animal’s true behaviour and help us translate thoughts such as ‘I want to eat now’ or ‘I want to go for a walk’.
This technology could be fine-tuned so humans can talk back to animals and engage in conversation, he said.
HOW DOGS ‘TALK’ TO OWNERS
It may sound barking mad, but dogs are able to make their owners understand what they’re trying to say through their barks and growls.
A recent study has found that the majority of dog owners are able to identify their dog’s emotions through their noises.
Women were found to be especially good at understanding what their dog is saying, which the experts believe is down to their greater emotional insight.
Researchers found women were correct at identifying the animal’s intentions 65 per cent of the time, compared to 45 per cent for men.
Dog owners of both sexes were also more accurate than non-dog owners by a similar range – 60 per cent versus 40 per cent.
Scientists recorded the sounds made by 18 dogs during activities.
These included guarding their food, facing a threatening stranger, or playing a tug-of-war game.
Overall, around 63 per cent of the 40 participants who took part in the study were able to identify the dog’s emotions in the growls.
The figure is significantly more than would be expected by guesswork alone, said the researchers.
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.
Advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning mean the Dr Dolittle dream of communicating with animals could soon be a reality, new research suggests. Rex Harrison was the first actor to play the character on the big screen in the 1967 musical (pictured)
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.