Maybe you’ve heard that old song from the original Dr. Doolittle about walking with, and talking to, the animals?
Well, we’re a little closer to that, thanks to a system that can decode the sounds of pigs to figure out what they’re feeling.
A team from seven European countries analyzed 7,000 recordings of pigs squealing, grunting and otherwise spouting off and made notes about what was happening to the pigs at the times the sounds were made.
They wanted to see whether there were patterns in those sounds that corresponded to different emotions, and that’s what they found.
High frequency sounds were most common in negative situations, like when pigs fought, got scared or got hurt.
When pigs are happy, they tend to make shorter sounds, though the sound patterns are much more complex than what I’m describing here.
Tthey included not only sounds from very obviously positive or extremely negative situations, but from in-between moments, like when a pig is introduced to a new toy or simply sees an object they’ve never seen before.
The researchers say they were able to build an algorithm that could accurately match the emotion with the sound 92 percent of the time.
The question is: why decode pig grunts?
The scientists say that this could be the start of an artificial intelligence system that could help farmers take better care of their animals.
If, say, there was a kind of barnyard smart speaker listening in on the pig grunts, and it could recognize when a pig was upset or in distress, the farmer could get a notification that there was a problem and go deal with it.
Plus, if a pig somewhere out there is squealing and grunting at us, trying to tell us that a spider is weaving words like “SOME PIG” into her webs… we probably want to know about it.
All that said, this is a new algorithm.
We don’t have a lot of animal AI yet, so please don’t… hog the system.
This weekend in Owensboro, Kentucky, it’s the Kentucky State Fiddle Championship, at the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
There are adult, youth and senior fiddle competitions, but there are also prizes in mandolin, guitar, banjo and dancing.
Pig grunts reveal their emotions (University of Copenhagen)