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World-Leading Thinkers Creating an Inter-Species Internet --A Prelude to ET Communication?





A consortium of of some of the planet's best thinkers and celebrity names --including Google's Vint Cerf, a member of the team that set up the protocols for the original Internet; famed MIT tech guru Neal Gershenfeld; psychology professor and dolphin researcher Diana Reiss, and "Shock the Monkey" musician and techie Peter Gabriel (shown above)--launched the "Interspecies Internet" to facilitate the ability of animals around the world to communicate with us — and each other.

The group quartet appeared at a recent TED Conference to show off their research so far with sentient animals --animals that have shown the ability to recognize themselves in the mirror. Reiss, for example, has built a touchscreen keyboard for dolphins where smart cetaceans get to ask for various objects and announce their activities. And as crazy as it sounds, she received seed money Thursday to develop a touchscreen for dolphins. Gabriel showed a video of a bonobo (one of our closest genetic relatives) riffing on a keyboard as Gabriel provided background music.

"What was amazing to me was that they seemed a lot more adept at getting a handle on our language than we were at getting a handle on theirs," Gabriel said. I work with a lot of musicians from around the world. Often we don’t have any common language at all. We sit behind our instruments and it’s a way to connect," said Gabriel What would happen if we could somehow find new interfaces – visual, audio — to allow us to communicate with the remarkable beings we share the planet with?"

"We should not restrict the Internet to one species," added Cerf, who's working with NASA on standards for the Interplanetary Internet. "Other species should be allowed to participate." Cerf added that such a system would help us prepare for a possible Interplanetary Internet, should humans ever make contact with alien species.



The Daily Galaxy via TED

Image credits: courtesy of TED and James Duncan Davidson



The recent example of a 'mind net' between two rats with brain implants, who 'shared' ideas and useful information in real time over the internet to solve problems (access to water and food) shows the possibility of technologically achieving what already seems to happen in nature. The word telepathy was used to describe the experiment, which implies a super-natural element - in this case the very un-natural internet. What about the communication that must occur for ant or bee colonies to function - is it also a form of mind-net, perhaps a shared consciousness? Aside from '100th monkey syndome', developed mammals generally appear to have 'discreet' minds - direct communication (telepathy) seems rare enough to call it supernatural. But the evolution of brain implants and an interspecies internet could allow us to tune into something akin to the 'mind-net of nature' - or put another way 'retune', but with our evolved 'discrete' minds. A new era perhaps?

As an autistic adult who has worked with autistic people on communication I feel there are many people due to numerous causes who communicate at levels far lower than they have the potential to achieve. I totally support communicating with animals, but I believe more progress could be made by focusing on humans as well as animals.

sadly we don`t even have a good translator for all the world`s languages...if you know very well another language (than english) just try to translate something into english and back to have a good laugh, no matter what translation software you choose...most fun you`ll ahve with google translate :))

As an autistic adult who has worked with autistic people on communication I feel there are many people due to numerous causes who communicate at levels far lower than they have the potential to achieve.

Looks like we're well on our way to evolving into the Noosphere.

Communication with animals on an intellectual level is never going to happen. Indicating to a rodent the location of food and water is a far cry from meaningful communication. Aliens are a different kettle of fish they will probably be relatively smart. The problem might be that they are too smart, a species several billion years more evolved than Humans will probably be quite difficult to communicate with, we will be the rodents by comparison. It would be like a Human communicating with a bug. A species that far advanced might not see humans as a sentient species.

-- James Ph. Kotsybar

We’ve just found out that the sun’s not alone
in providing the energy for life.
Right here on earth there are life-forms, now known,
that thrive where we thought there’d be too much strife.

They utilize sulfuric thermal vents
for all the energy necessary
for living function, finding nourishments
in pressures and dark extraordinary.

New, too, we’ve learned that other earthlings here
can share both emotion and intellect.
The ape, cetacean and avian spheres
have learned our language, if not joined our sect.

It’s far more rare we try to speak their tongue.
At interspecies meet-and-greets, we’re dumb.

The world of communication has definitely evolved, so has the mediums and ways and also the creatures with which man is communicating. This post describes another such breakthrough where science geeks establish a way for dolphins to communicate within themselves. But as I always say, any objective or intellectual communication with animal species is still not on the cards.

First of all, "sentient" does not mean "able to recognize oneself in a mirror." It means "able to sense." Nearly all lifeforms on Earth have at least one sense; certainly all multicellular creatures do.

Perhaps the word the researchers are looking for is "sapient," which comes from the Latin word for "wise," and refers to higher levels of intelligence. If so, I still have a hard time thinking of cetaceans, fellow-primates, and other non-human animals as having that level of ability. Sure, they may be able to learn our ways of communication, but there's more to sapience than that.

As just one example -- and the most pertinent to this discussion -- I doubt that any of those creatures could care much about most of the functions the Internet would provide -- information and research, global, social connections, business transactions, and such.

Computers can be a fantastic tool for helping people to communicate with each other and with animals. That aspect of this research is fantastic. As Daniel and/or Eugene pointed out, it can be a great boon for the severely autistic and other humans with communication barriers, as well as for dealing with the animal kingdom.

But a multi-species Internet? I think that would best wait until we meet extraterrestrials.

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