Sperm whales are one of the loudest creatures on the planet, producing squeaks, knocks, and staccato clicks to communicate with other whales a few feet to hundreds of miles away.
Known as a coder, this patterned click symphony can be sophisticated enough to qualify as a full-fledged language. But do humans understand what these cetaceans are saying?
The answer is probably, but the researchers told Live Science that the first researchers had to collect and analyze an unprecedented number of sperm whale communications.
The brain is six times as large as ours, and the sperm whale (Sperm whale) It has a complicated social structure and spends a lot of time socializing and exchanging coder. These messages can last as short as 10 seconds, or even 30 minutes or more. In fact, according to an April 2021 paper on sperm whales posted on preprint servers, “the complexity and duration of whale vocalizations, at least in principle, show more complex grammar than other non-human animals. Suggests that you can arXiv.org.
This paper is an interdisciplinary project known as the CETI (Cetacean Translation Initiative), which first collects sperm whale records and then attempts to decode these click sequences using machine learning. It outlines a plan to decode sperm whale vocalizations. Fellow mammals are used for communication. CETI chose to study sperm whales over other whales because the clicks on sperm whales have an almost Morse code-like structure. This may be easier to analyze with artificial intelligence (AI).
Break the surface
What humans know about sperm whales is only recently discovered. According to a new study posted by CETI, they only noticed that they were making sounds in the 1950s, and it was not known until the 1970s that they were communicating using those sounds.
This click seems to serve two purposes. Sperm whales can dive to a depth of 4,000 feet (1,200 meters). This is three times as deep as a nuclear submarine. According to the Woods Hole Institute of Oceanography.. These depths are pitch black, so they have evolved to look for squid and other marine life using echolocation clicks, a type of sonar. According to the CETI treatise, communication clicks are more dense, but the same click mechanism is used in social vocalization.
It was difficult to understand just this because sperm whales were “very difficult for humans to study for many years,” marine biologist and CETI project leader David Gruber told Live Science. But now, “there are really tools that can dig deeper into this in ways never before possible.” He said those tools include AI, robotics, and drones.
Pratyusha Sharma, a CETI data science researcher and doctoral candidate at MIT’s Institute for Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, recently built artificial intelligence and language models such as GPT-3 using deep learning. I told Live Science about the development. Human-like texts and stories took the lead and dominated the AI community last year. Scientists hope that these same methods can be applied to sperm whale vocalizations, she said. The only problem: These methods have a greedy desire for data.
The CETI project currently has a record of about 100,000 sperm whale clicks, carefully collected by marine biologists over the years, but machine learning algorithms could require nearly 4 billion locations. There is. To fill this gap, CETI has set up a number of automated channels for collecting records from sperm whales. These include underwater microphones installed in areas where sperm whales frequently visit, microphones that can be dropped by an eagle-eyed aerial drone as soon as a swarm of sperm whales is found gathering on the surface of the water, and even more prominent. Includes robotic fish that can be heard chasing whales so that they are not from afar.
But even with all this data, can it be deciphered? Many machine learning algorithms have found that speech is more difficult to analyze than text. For example, it can be difficult to parse the beginning and end of a word. Let’s say you have the word “umbrella,” as Sharma explained. Is it the word “um”, “umbrella”, or “umbrella”? The barriers between spoken words are more ambiguous and less regular, so more data may be needed to examine the pattern.
That’s not the only difficulty CETI faces. “Whether someone is from Japan, from the United States, or where they are from, the world we are talking about is very similar. We talk about people and talk about their actions. “Sharma said. “But the worlds in which these whales live are very different, aren’t they? And their behaviors are very different.”
In addition, a 2016 journal survey found that sperm whales have dialects. Royal Society Open ScienceWe analyzed the coder of nine sperm whale groups in the Caribbean for six years.
But these difficulties also make the project very valuable. What one sperm whale tells another sperm whale is as dark and muddy as swimming water, but this mystery gives CETI an even more intriguing answer. As Gruber said, “We learn a lot when we look at the world from other perspectives.”
Originally published in Live Science.
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