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Editor David posted on Sunday September 4, 2022, at 08:13PM.

The underground-dwelling rodents known as naked mole rats make soft chirping sounds when they meet in a tunnel. So Researchers at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Brain Research "used machine-learning algorithms to analyze 36,000 soft chirps recorded in seven mole rat colonies," according to the New York Times: Not only did each mole rat have its own vocal signature, but each colony had its own distinct dialect, which was passed down, culturally, over generations. During times of social instability — as in the weeks after a colony's queen was violently deposed — these cohesive dialects fell apart. When a new queen began her reign, a new dialect appeared to take hold. "The greeting call, which I thought was going to be pretty basic, turned out to be incredibly complicated," said Dr. Barker, who is now studying the many other sounds the rodents make. "Machine-learning kind of transformed my research...." In recent years, scientists have begun deploying this technology to decode animal communication, using machine-learning algorithms to identify when squeaking mice are stressed or why fruit bats are shouting. Even more ambitious projects are underway — to create a comprehensive catalog of crow calls, map the syntax of sperm whales and even to build technologies that allow humans to talk back. "Let's try to find a Google Translate for animals," said Diana Reiss, an expert on dolphin cognition and communication at Hunter College and co-founder of Interspecies Internet, a think tank devoted to facilitating cross-species communication....

The ability to chew the fat with cats is not on the horizon ofumanity. The work shows that animal communication is much more complex than we think, and the chatter is giving a richer view of the world beyond our own species. Scientists show that these programs can tell apart the voices of individual animals, distinguish between sounds that animals make in different circumstances and break their vocalizations down into smaller parts, a crucial step in understanding meaning.

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