All dog owners had the same thought: what are they saying? According to Netflix’s new science docuseries, The Future, the answer to this age-old question may be coming sooner than we imagined. “Dogs” explores advancements in animal linguistics in an episode that’s every animal lover’s secret dream.
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Like Netflix’s other futurism documentaries, The Future Of follows a simple format. Each episode of the series takes a regular slice of everyday life, from dating and houseplants to video games. It then dives deep into the innovations lurking in the near and distant futures of these seemingly mundane subjects. How close are we to inventing wearables that tell us how romantically compatible we are with another person? Can we really take a vacation in space one day? It’s all very Black Mirror-esque as each episode explores some well-meaning new technology and glosses over its potentially chilling consequences. But honestly? It’s really hard to wring your hands and worry about unintended chaos when human-dog communication is at stake.
Midway through the episode, Dr. Con Slobodchikoff appears, an animal behaviorist and conservation biologist who is also the founder and CEO of Zoolingua. The company is working on AI-based software designed to translate dog barks, sounds and movements for humans.
“Eventually what will happen is someone will have an app, probably on their cellphone, and they will record their dog’s behavior. This app will send information to the cloud where the AI model will analyze behavior,” says Dr. Slobodchikoff. “With this app, we will know for sure what the dog is trying to tell us. »
As the episode explores, if this increased communication happened, it would fundamentally change the way we interact with dogs. Veterinarians would have an easier time diagnosing their patients and detecting the mysterious and undetectable problems that sometimes infect animals. Plus, you could finally tell your best furry friend that you’re not going away forever, but just grocery shopping. It’s also possible that dog rights will increase if this technology is successful. Once scientists realized that chimpanzees could communicate, they were no longer used in experiments. Learning the full gamut of canine communication would likely make us rethink the way we treat our furry friends, and that understanding might even lead to the end of puppy mills.
“Dogs” does not live in a completely delusional world. The 19-minute episode also acknowledges that knowing what your dog is saying can be deeply upsetting. What if you find out your dog doesn’t like you? It would suck.
But for a moment, let’s live in the perfect world we all imagined as kids as we cuddled up with the fuzziest members of our family. The dream of having a complete conversation with your dog? The future argues that it’s not as far-fetched as you may have thought. Just keep this technology away from cats, for the love of all things nice in the world.
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