The Interspecies Internet

The internet has unarguably been the biggest revolution in communication since the printing press. Never before have you been able to share so many thoughts with so many strangers and start arguments with someone half-way around the world in some common dialect of international English. Still, we have so far remained in the domain of human communication, but it seems that the next revolution may be just around the corner.

The concept of the Interspecies Internet has just been launched at a TED conference this week by Vint Cerf (chief Internet evangelist at Google and one of the founders of the world wide web), Diana Reiss (a researcher in animal cognition), Neil Gershenfeld from MIT, and Peter Gabriel (yes, as in the songwriter, who you can see in this video jamming with an ape).

They are interested in the power of using new technology to help us communicate with the more intelligent animals out there and have already started collaborating with elephant, dolphin and orangutan sanctuaries. It turns out that animals have generally been better able at figuring out how to communicate with us than the other way around, largely by pressing strange buttons to show us what they want.

So we are hopeful, even though the project is still at the stage of being ‘an idea in progress’, that one day soon we will be sharing videos and tunes with our animals friends around the world and seeing how they react. Will orangutans find cats and funny babies as fascinating as we do? Will elephants show their sense of humour or will dolphins express a penchant for jazz? Let’s just hope that we don’t simply end up arguing with them over whose momma is fatter.

 

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