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Dog language (almost) unravelled

It turns out the computer can understand the barking of dogs better than humans, and it can be used to better understand the language of these animals. During a study in the barking of dogs scientists have recorded 6,000 barking sounds of 14 Hungarian Mudi's (a kind of sheep dog). Six different 'barks' were recorded: barking to strangers, barking during a fight, barking 'to take a pee', barking for their ball, barking during playing and barking when it's left behind. After analyzing the digital versions of these 'barks', the computer program connected the right bark to the right action in 43% of the cases. This is almost identical to the score of humans (49%). The computer had a better score with 'walking' and 'ball', while humans scored higher on 'playing' and 'being left alone'. Furthermore the computer could better distinguish which bark belonged to which dog (52%). Earlier, the scientists had determined that humans were practically unable to make this difference.

The research was carried out by Csaba Molnár and his team of the Eötvös Loránd Universiteit in Hungary, and the results have been published in January 2008 in “The Journal of Animal Cognition”.

Future Vision by Erwin Van Lun on this article

Computers will understand the world better than we do. Currently they get dogs just about equally, soon much better. Then personal environment brands, brands that in future use this kind of advanced forms of this type of technology, to help us understand the world better by saying, for example ‘your dog wants to take a walk’ or ‘this dog wants to greet you and isn’t angry’. Or, in stranger environments, ‘this snake won’t hurt you now. It’s just eaten and is on its way to its lair.’ This kind of insight, this kind of technology, means that we’ll be able to walk a little freer in the world.

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