The Future of Interspecies Communication - Project CETI
Deep in the waters of the Eastern Caribbean lives a creature so large, so sophisticated, so mysterious, that it has fascinated humans for millennia. Over the course of history, we have told its story in our great books, listened to its songs with awe, and marveled as we learned of the complexity of its sounds. Now with advances in engineering, artificial intelligence, and linguistics, we will embark on a journey to make real the dream of every child — to understand and talk to these mystifying animals.
Our audacious Project CETI (Cetacean Translation Initiative) aims to decipher the sonic communication of the world’s most enigmatic ocean species: the sperm whale.
In doing so, we aim to show that today’s most cutting-edge technologies can be used to benefit not only humankind but other species on this planet.
By deeply enabling humans to better understand and protect the life around us, we thereby redefine our very understanding of the word “we.”
Sperm whales have the largest brains to have ever existed; their vocalizations are among the loudest animal sounds on the planet. They communicate with one another via Morse Code-like sounds that vary from one sperm whale community to another and share hallmarks of a highly evolved language. They have been vocally communicating for millions of years, but only in the last fifteen have we begun to learn how some of their vocalizations are used for communication. Project CETI seeks to find a way to listen deeply to another species’
communication, interpret its voices and then communicate back.
This dream has only recently become possible, bringing together and building on the latest discoveries of experts in disparate fields who have never before seen one another as collaborators. Our team combines the world’s
leading roboticists, marine biologists, machine learning experts, data scientists, linguists, and internet pioneers, working together to achieve a set of credible breakthroughs that — when they come together — will deliver a major impact.
Project CETI will:
• Develop the most non-invasive and non-destructive “delicate” robotics technologies to listen to sperm whales
in the ocean and put the sounds in context
• Deploy this technology to study a population of whales off the coast of Dominica, where we already have
substantial data on their sounds, social lives, and behaviors
• Pipeline the recorded data into a community of scientists who will decode it using cutting-edge machine
learning, natural language processing, data science and linguistics
• Develop a public portal and engage the global community