A team of scientists created a new AI that can accurately detect distress noises from chickens
A team of scientists from the City University of Hong Kong created a new AI that can accurately detect distress noises from chickens. In a paper published in The Journal of Royal Society Interface on Wednesday, they said the tech could identify distress calls from chickens with up to 97% accuracy.
Science fiction is replete with devices that automatically translate the languages of aliens for us. Some do it almost instantaneously, apparently learning on the fly; we can reasonably infer that such devices might be based on artificial intelligence, complete with machine learning. Lacking aliens to converse with (or so the government wants us to believe), some AI researchers are working on universal translators for animal speech.
Researchers at the University of Georgia and the Georgia Institute of Technology (which publishes a periodical called we kid you not PoultryTech ) spent a couple of years recording chickens under different conditions and then feeding those tapes into a machine-learning system with the intent of producing an AI that chicken farmers can install to monitor the well-being and health of their chickens.
Chickens make more sounds than most of us realize. They cluck when content, squawk when frightened, and sing “buk, buk, ba-gawk” when laying an egg. Their chicks vocalize too, and they can vary that simple sound to signal pleasure or distress. Now, scientists have developed an artificial intelligence program that automatically identifies these SOS calls, an advance that could help farmers save thousands of fledgling lives—and millions of dollars in farm labor.
“The results are an important next step toward a flock welfare indicator,” says Bas Rodenburg, an animal welfare scientist at Utrecht University not involved with the study. The work could even change public attitudes toward factory farms, he says. In general, the public at large prefers to consume chickens—and farm animals in general—from empathetic producers who care about their animals’ welfare, other researchers have shown.
The AI has been evaluated by at least one working chicken operation, Wilcox Farms, an organic egg supplier in the Pacific Northwest. At the moment, the system is still struggling to screen out the sounds of ventilation systems and automatic feeders, and other environmental noises, but the researchers are working on that, too, according to Scientific American.
And then it should be a hop, skip, and a jump to developing translators for other animals.
In a recent blog predicting such a thing within 10 years, Veritone called attention to the work of Con Slobodchikoff, professor emeritus at the department of biological sciences at Northern Arizona University, who has been using AI to analyze the vocalizations of prairie dogs. Slobodchikoff says prairie dogs have different words for different predators and different colors (describing the pelts of other animals and even the clothing of humans).
Given the advances in human language translation achieved by Google with Google Translate and by companies like Lingmo International and Waverly Labs with earpieces for translation, Veritone believes that it’s entirely possible to have a natural language conversation with your dog in the not-too-distant future.