Talking animals have long been a staple of literature and cinema. Dr. Doolittle, Babe, and Stuart Little all showcase our innate wish to speak to our pets as we do to our other friends and family members. Luckily, according to Amazon, that may soon be a reality. In a report recently published by the internet retail giant, they believe that you’ll soon be able to order a translation device that will turn the howls and bark of your fuzzy friends into truly understandable words.
Partnering with William Higham of Next Big Thing, Amazon has co-authored a report that predicts we’ll be able to talk to our cats and dogs within the next 10 years. According to Higham, “innovative products that succeed are based around a genuine and major consumer needs. The amount of money now spent on pets – they are becoming fur babies to so many people – means there is huge consumer demand for this. Somebody is going to put this together.”
Higham and Amazon point to previous and current work being conducted by Con Slobodchikoff of Northern Arizona University as being an indication of what’s to come. Slobodchikoff has successfully used AI to observe and analyze the calls of prairie dogs, which revealed a complex and sophisticated communication system that mimics what we understand as language. The AI revealed that prairie dogs have distinctive words for different species of predator, as well as the ability to describe the color of objects such as human clothing or the fur of predatory coyotes.
As artificial intelligence and computer technology continues to improve, it’s not unfeasible to think that we’ll soon be able to decipher what exactly our pets want. For any owner of a dog, it’s a normal occurrence to have your pet growl, bark, or yelp when trying to tell you they want to eat or go out to relieve themselves. If Amazon has their way, you’ll be able to know exactly what your pet wants within the decade.
Images: Wikimedia, Absolutely Anything (Bill and Ben Productions), Adult Swim
Source: The Guardian