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Artificial Intelligence helps decipher the sounds of the animal kingdom | Technology

Artificial Intelligence helps decipher the sounds of the animal kingdom | Technology
Artificial Intelligence helps decipher the sounds of the animal kingdom 

Artificial Intelligence is helping us understand the language of animals

The technology can analyze hours of animal audio in a fraction of the time that a human would do the same thing.

"If you're trying to manually separate these calls from the audio files, it takes a really long time," said Professor Kevin Coffey of the University of Washington.

Coffey is also one of the creators of DeepSqueak, an A.I.  Program designed to pick up the high-pitched rat calls that the human ear often misses.

"In mice, these calls are often related to positive or negative affect," Coffey said.  "They make some calls in positive situations and others in negative situations."

Deepscue's technology relies on visible waveforms attached to an audio file. 

AI  Scans the waves for any irregular patterns.

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"It definitely works better with some things, like rodent calls or whistles, than others," Coffey said.  "Not all vocals are that good."

Similar Machine Learning techniques are being deployed at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution off the coast of Massachusetts.

Researchers are using underwater microphones to catalog different species on coral reefs.

A single reef can be home to over a hundred species.

"Sound travels really well in the ocean," said Aran Mooney, an associate scientist at WHOI.  "It's a really good indicator of those different species. We can put one sensor out there and cover most of the rock."

The work is urgent, as climate change threatens the extinction of some species.

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"It's a way of listing animals that are more obvious, but we can also detect some of the more cryptic animals," Mooney said.  "That's one of the goals of AI, to get to some of those rare species. Humans are very good at taking out the obvious. We want to take out the rare stuff."

The early success of this technology does not mean that an "beast to English" translator is on the horizon.

And any technology that claims to translate your dog's bark is probably a fake.

Domestic pets have a short range of sounds.  Most of their communication is through body language.

To fully understand a dog or a cat, the researchers believe we will need to use a hybrid AI, which analyzes audio and video. 

Some research is already underway.

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"Things like DeepLabCut make inferences, where they try to automatically score the animal's behavior based on individual frames of the video," Coffey said.  "I want to merge those two very, very powerful techniques, so we have behavior and communication in one model and we can start to get a better idea of ​​what the sounds mean."

Source: Joseph Peters, The Denver Channel, Direct News 99