Conversation Between Animals

I found myself watching this wonderful documentary last the summer on Koko, the Gorilla that learned sign language. [YouTube Link]

It got me thinking about the future of our relationship with nonhumans and the prospects of progressively complex conversations.

I asked myself,

Why should we develop communications with other animals? and,

Where does cross-species conversation lead us?

My assumption is that, as we develop communication techniques for a greater number of species, the breadth of non-human intellect may allow for more complex conversations. Introducing us to non-human insights, which could displace us from our traditional approach to understanding our errs and actions.

There are a quite a few questions that come to mind on this future.

How would a non-human express their insight, and would they want to share it? Would we want to share our insight? How deep would our conversations run? Might we settle for small talk or feel compelled to share everything we’ve learned, just as we might share with our friends? Would this new paradigm/age of communication push us to engage persistently in all conversations, or would small talk persist?

How do we share insights with animals now? An indirect sharing of insight might be our abstract scientific explorations in the form of manipulating environments to control their populations or improving a particular animal’s environment to keep them from extinction. Though we would not be communicating the abstract notion of science. I can’t see scientific structure and methodology being intuited for these animals.

I imagine the experience of having complex conversations with nonhuman animals would shift our attitudes towards other species to a much more positive space, where openness and inclusion thrive — it could drive expansion and production of non-traditional sources of food, perhaps moving us towards a more rigorous science of nutrition unadulterated by industry. Instigating far more abstract culinary explorations. One could mine the nutritional universe just as we might mine the arbitrarily large computational universe, like finding certain Cellular Automata rules that can produce blur effects on images.

The prospects here may allow us to further dissociate from anthropomorphizing animals and strengthen our appreciation of the insight we could never gain from human experience alone.