January 31, 2018
So, I guess this is cool.
A cool thing to do.
A killer whale has been taught by scientists to copy human speech.
The researchers were studying a 14-year-old female killer whale named Wikie, who was well-trained and had been taught how to copy behaviours in a previous study.
Wikie was recorded mimicking English words like “hello”, “bye bye” and “one two”, as well as the name of her trainer, Amy.
“Killer whales use their blowhole to make noises, almost like speaking out of your nose, so we were not expecting it to be perfect,” said Dr Jose Abramson, a researcher at the Complutense University of Madrid, who led the study.
“But we were surprised by how close it was.”
The scientists wanted to understand how capable whales are of imitating noises, so they could understand how whales learn in their natural habitat.
In addition to human sounds, Wikie was exposed to noises made by another killer whale to see if she was capable of imitating them.
The results of the experiments were documented in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
After listening to the human or whale sound, Wikie was requested to reproduce them by her trainer saying “do this”.
Wikie’s calf, a three-year-old whale named Moana, was taught to make five unique sounds that could then be used to test his mother.
It is indeed the dream of everyone to be able to talk to animals.
But we need to be able to have conversations with them. And I don’t think expecting them to form the sounds is ever going to lead to that.
We need some kind of mind-reading device that translates their thoughts into English. This way we would be able to talk to dogs and others, and understand their motivations.