A Zoological Version of Google Translate

How tech is helping us talk to animals

Researchers are using drones, AI, and digital recorders to create a “zoological version of Google Translate.”

By Neel Dhanesha@neel_dhanneel.dhanesha@vox.com Oct 30, 2022, 7:00am EDT

An African elephant throws mud onto itself at the Mpala Research Center and Wildlife Foundation, near Rumuruti, Laikipia District, Kenya. Elephants have been shown to communicate using infrasound, which exists below the human range of hearing, and new technology is helping researchers decode what those sounds might mean.
Simon Maina/AFP via Getty Images

The world around us is vibrating with sounds we cannot hear. Bats chitter and babble in ultrasound; elephants rumble infrasonic secrets to each other; coral reefs are aquatic clubs, hopping with the cracks and hisses and clicks of marine life.

For centuries, we didn’t even know those sounds existed. But as technology has advanced, so has our capacity to listen. Today, tools like drones, digital recorders, and artificial intelligence are helping us listen to the sounds of nature in unprecedented ways, transforming the world of scientific research and raising a tantalizing prospect: Someday soon, computers might allow us to talk to animals.

In some ways, that has already begun.

“Digital technologies, so often associated with our alienation from nature, are offering us an opportunity to listen to nonhumans in powerful ways, reviving our connection to the natural world,” writes Karen Bakker in her new book, The Sounds of Life: How Digital Technology Is Bringing Us Closer to the Worlds of Animals and Plants.


Automated listening posts have been set up in ecosystems around the planet, from rainforests to the depths of the ocean, and miniaturization has allowed scientists to stick microphones onto animals as small as honeybees.

“Combined, these digital devices function like a planetary-scale hearing aid: enabling humans to observe and study nature’s sounds beyond the limits of our sensory capabilities,” Bakker writes.

All those devices create a ton of data, which would be impossible to go through manually. So researchers in the fields of bioacoustics (which studies sounds made by living organisms) and ecoacoustics (which studies the sounds made by entire ecosystems) are turning to artificial intelligence to sift through the piles of recordings, finding patterns that might help us understand what animals are saying to each other. There are now databases of whale songs and honeybee dances, among others, that Bakker writes could one day turn into “a zoological version of Google Translate.”

But it’s important to remember that we aren’t necessarily discovering these sounds for the first time. As Bakker points out in her book, Indigenous communities around the world have long been aware that animals have their own forms of communication, while the Western scientific establishment has historically dismissed the idea of animal communication outright. Many of the researchers Bakker highlights in her book faced intense pushback from the scientific community when they suggested whales, elephants, turtles, bats, and even plants made sounds and even might have languages of their own. They spent nearly as much time pushing back against the pushback as they did conducting research.

While that seems to be changing with our increased understanding of animals, Bakker cautions that the ability to communicate with animals stands to be either a blessing or a curse, and we must think carefully about how we will use our technological advancements to interact with the natural world. We can use our understanding of our world’s sonic richness to gain a sense of kinship with nature and even potentially heal some of the damage we have wrought, but we also run the risk of using our newfound powers to assert our domination over animals and plants.

We are on the edge of a revolution in how we interact with the world around us, Bakker told Recode. Now, we must decide which path we will follow in the years ahead. (https://www.vox.com/recode/2022/10/30/23426406/ai-animals-google-translate-karen-bakker-sounds-of-life)

The question is what will humans say to the animals when they began to talk?

Is Magnus Carlsen Infected With The Trumpitis Virus?

I have spent an inordinate amount of time reading several articles concerning the “postponement” of the 2020 Candidates Chess tournament, and every reply. The articles, Carlsen, Dvorkovich & Kramnik on ending the Candidates (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/carlsen-dvorkovich-kramnik-on-ending-the-candidates), and Azerbaijan National Team Writes Open Letter Regarding Radjabov, Candidates (https://www.chess.com/news/view/azerbaijan-team-open-letter-fide-radjabov), resonated deeply. In addition, an excellent article at Chessbase, Cancelled: When the war put a stop to top chess events (https://en.chessbase.com/post/cancelled-when-the-war-cut-top-events-short) was read, but does not figure into this post. It does, though, give some perspective on the situation in which Chess languishes.

Magnus Carlsen


is the World Chess Co-Champion of Classical Chess, by his own admission. Magnus was unable to win even one classical game in the last match for the the World Human Chess Championship with Fabiano Caruana.



He was able to beat Sergey Karjakin

IMG_4080_by Maria Emelianova.JPG

only once in the previous match. He did, though, also lose one game. Magnus is considered World Human Chess Champion only because he happens to be better at playing ‘hurry up and get it over’ Chess.

Mr. Carlsen is proof positive that Chess does not make one “smart.” From the Chess24 article:

Carlsen on Kramnik (and Lawrence’s) suggestion to give Radjabov a 2022 wild card

“This is just my opinion. I think if he had wanted to play the tournament he would have played it.”

Lawrence: You think he didn’t want to play it, not related to the crisis?

“I think it’s partly but not fully. That is just my opinion. I think he was very happy to win the World Cup but he didn’t particularly fancy playing the Candidates, which I can understand. It’s an ordeal, and he had a rough time the last time [in the 2013 London Candidates Radjabov lost 7 games and finished last, 2 points behind the next player]. Obviously the corona situation gave his already I would think pre-existing opinion that he didn’t particularly want to play a lot of substance, that now he had a legitimate reason not to play. I’m not saying that his reason was not legitimate, I’m just saying that all the other guys did play and I’m sure they had concerns as well. That is just my take.

You can see that with Maxime, for instance. He stepped in on short notice and he’s not been one of the guys who’s complained at all about the situation. He’s just happy to be there, he wants to play and all of that stuff about it being a difficult situation and so on – yeah, of course it’s a difficult situation, of course it’s not the best atmosphere for a chess tournament, but you chose to be there, and so if you choose to be there then you play, you do your job and you have to trust the authorities there to make the decisions – FIDE, the Russian government and so on. As long as they feel that it’s safe to hold the tournament then you’re holding it.

Obviously the situation we have now is not ideal, but I think giving Radjabov the wild card for 2022 – that I would find just ridiculous. You could make the case that he should actually play in this one now that it’s been postponed and the situation is different. I don’t feel that way, I don’t know the law, I don’t know what is supposed to happen there, but to me it doesn’t feel justified that he should play even if it resumes, but I would understand it. But 2022… no!”

Evidently the World Co-Chess Champ of Classical Chess is a mind reader. Mr. Carlsen mentions a bad tournament by Mr. Radjabov SEVEN YEARS AGO! AS we go through life we change. An example would be the article, How your personality changes as you age, in which we find, “Our personalities were long thought to be fixed by the time we reach our 30s, but the latest research suggests they change throughout our lives.” (https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200313-how-your-personality-changes-as-you-age)

Teimour Radjabov



is a different person than he was in 2013. Could it be that Magnus, after playing over the recent games of Mr. Radjabov would prefer to NOT have to face Mr. Radjabov? Magnus Carlsen is twenty nine years of age and in Chess terms getting a little long in the tooth.

Consider this reply by KoustavChatterjee1:

“It’s amazing how arrogant some chess players are. They still say that Rajdabov withdrawing was because he was afraid of playing in the Candidates, even though there’s so much evidence to the contrary (him hiring seconds, the amount of prep etc).

Rajdabov is completely validated in his decision to withdraw from the event, as health and safety matters way more than chess. The players who went and played, didn’t do anything brave. They were just thinking about their careers and acting as professionals. Rajdabov sacrificed one of the best opportunities of his career for the greater good.

This thread is a perfect example as to how playing chess doesn’t correlate with being generally smart – proven by the World champ, and multiple people who commented here – who don’t realize that a tournament (no matter how important) is not worth the potential risks that a deadly pandemic entails.” (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/carlsen-dvorkovich-kramnik-on-ending-the-candidates)

Then there is this from BabarBouzouardo:

“Carlsen speaking of Radjabov: “That is just my opinion. I think he was very happy to win the World Cup, but he didn’t particularly fancy playing the Candidates, which I can understand. It’s an ordeal, and he had a rough time the last time [in the 2013 London Candidates Radjabov lost 7 games and finished last, 2 points behind the next player]. Obviously the corona situation gave his already I would think pre-existing opinion that he didn’t particularly want to play a lot of substance, that now he had a legitimate reason not to play.” … Bravo chess genius, you figured out everything about all subjects! Indeed you are a genius …! At first, Carlsen looked polite, respectful and rather kind. It was the time when, as a teenager, he was accompanied to chess tournaments by his father. He then gradually became a young man and his father was no longer in the picture; at this point you could see a change in his character. He became more and more provocative, aggressive. Now that he has become world champion and is on the threshold of the 30 year age group, he clearly got a swollen head/ego and he has become an arrogant character full of himself. Is Carlsen infected with the Trumpitis virus? … Or, is he just a chess genius and simply an idiot? … Carlsen can now, disrespect competitors and fart higher than his ass as long as he is champion and get away with it, and with no consequences! But even the great Kasparov had to give way to a younger player by the age of 37 and even retire at 40! …. So what could an idiotic Carlen do, he who has not learned a thing, or known something, about reality and life. Once his chess lights will dim out, what will he do and how will he live in society? … I guess in contempt and bitterness!” (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/carlsen-dvorkovich-kramnik-on-ending-the-candidates)

I have been amazed at some of the things heard and read. WAKE UP PEOPLE! COVID-19 is not simply going to blow away with the wind. Things will most definitely NOT return to normal, whatever your interpretation of what is ‘normal’. For example:

Scientists warn we may need to live with social distancing for a year or more

Researchers say we face a horrible choice: practice social distancing for months or a year, or let hundreds of thousands die.
By Brian Resnick@B_resnickbrian@vox.com Mar 17, 2020, 12:00pm EDT

Or this:

“Americans need to prepare for the possibility of COVID-19 coming back as a seasonal illness,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a White House press briefing on Wednesday.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said there have been cases in Africa and the Southern Hemisphere, which is approaching colder seasons.

“If they have a substantial outbreak, it will be inevitable that we’ll get a cycle around the second time,” he said.”

Read more here: https://www.sacbee.com/news/coronavirus/article241513906.html#storylink=cpy

People in the Chess world need to understand that, in the immortal words of Bob Dylan:

In a fight between life and death Chess becomes irrelevant.