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Old January 24 2013, 10:52 AM   #16
RJDonner&Blitzen
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Re: wild dolphin seeks out human help

Rhubarbodendron wrote: View Post
I very much agree with RJD and Deranged Nasat: the problem is how to define intelligence, particularly if it is of a different kind than ours? (my old Zoology Prof used to say: humans build bombs. No mouse ever would be such an idiot to build a mousetrap)
Eh, he's just being cynical. Animals compete with and kill their own kind all the time. When Humans kill each other it's because they're listening to their animal instincts instead of their rational mind.

Has nobody ever thought of developing a sign language for communication with dolphins? It worked with Washoe, after all! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washoe_(chimpanzee)
Like some others, it's occurred to me to use computers to catalog all the sounds a dolphin makes and then create an artificial language based on those sounds. A computer program could then be written that translates back and forth. Young dolphins could be trained in that language by scientists while still being trained in regular dolphin communication by older dolphins. We would then have a group of dolphin ambassadors.
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Old January 24 2013, 12:55 PM   #17
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Re: wild dolphin seeks out human help

that's not a bad idea. I had been thinking only along the lines of a direct communication which, as YellowSubmarine pointed out, is difficult for anatomical reasons.

Alternatively, we could develop a language based on symbols on a touchscreen or a set of cards you'd have to touch (that's something both species could do)


I don't think you can compare the killing of animals and humans with each other. Animals kill for food or territorial reasons (wich usually are about food, in the end). Humans often kill for fury, for greed and in order to completely extinct the others, not just their immediate opponents. That's something any other organism on this planet would consider totally unthinkable.
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Old January 24 2013, 01:19 PM   #18
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Re: wild dolphin seeks out human help

Humans kill and train to kill as a reflex, which is very reasonable. It is not just killing to eat nor killing to express rage, but cold, calculating killing for almost any reason imaginable.

In my opinion, you couldn't make it a crime of murder to kill something or someone who inherently does not understand the rules, and makes themselves a killing threat in turn. Law is a mutual set of agreements subject to interpretations. While we can make it a crime to poach animals, for instance, we can't make it a crime for animals to kill a human being, that would be silly. We can't even put humans not of sound mind on the stand. Let alone expect animals to abide by law or human concepts like object persistance (that something exists when it's out of sight), let alone property or rights.

Anyway, if it's a choice between dolphins and humans I choose humans. I think Earth has a better chance of fighting off asteroids with humans.

(Of course you can't watch that video and not go awwwww)....
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Old January 24 2013, 04:05 PM   #19
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Re: wild dolphin seeks out human help

RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
Like some others, it's occurred to me to use computers to catalog all the sounds a dolphin makes and then create an artificial language based on those sounds. A computer program could then be written that translates back and forth. Young dolphins could be trained in that language by scientists while still being trained in regular dolphin communication by older dolphins. We would then have a group of dolphin ambassadors.
One problem is that the language you develop will probably only be appropriate to that dolphin. Humans have hundreds of languages. There is no reason to believe all dolphins use the same one. If they do share complex information through vocal communication, it's likely that dolphin communities around the world have their own language families, dialects, and even some language isolates.

Dolphin communication probably also consists of body language, so translating only their sounds wouldn't necessarily give you any useful information.

In other words, this is a much, much more difficult problem than people may assume.
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Old January 24 2013, 04:37 PM   #20
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Re: wild dolphin seeks out human help

Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
In other words, this is a much, much more difficult problem than people may assume.
The thing is that even if all dolphins used the same language throughout the world and even if it was largely based on vocalization, we could still be facing an even bigger problem. They have amazing hearing that could recognize subtleties in sound that we are probably not even looking at. If these are part of a any form of communication, we can be very far from understanding it. We might as far as looking at a waveform of human speech is close to hearing it.

Hey, to some people like Bill O'Reilly even human languages from the other side of the planet sound like gibberish, you can't possibly expect us to figure out dolphin any time soon now, do you?. Nah, hopefully, we're more clever than that.
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Old January 24 2013, 04:54 PM   #21
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Re: wild dolphin seeks out human help

YellowSubmarine wrote: View Post
Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
In other words, this is a much, much more difficult problem than people may assume.
The thing is that even if all dolphins used the same language throughout the world and even if it was largely based on vocalization, we could still be facing an even bigger problem. They have amazing hearing that could recognize subtleties in sound that we are probably not even looking at. If these are part of a any form of communication, we can be very far from understanding it. We might as far as looking at a waveform of human speech is close to hearing it.

Hey, to some people like Bill O'Reilly even human languages from the other side of the planet sound like gibberish, you can't possibly expect us to figure out dolphin any time soon now, do you?. Nah, hopefully, we're more clever than that.
If they can vocalize beyond human range, that's not a big deal, because we have sensors for that. It's not as if humans would be actively listening to and trying to interpret the sounds. Sensors fed into a computer would capture the sounds, including subsonic and ultrasonic ones. The hard part would be determining what they mean.
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Old January 24 2013, 05:18 PM   #22
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Re: wild dolphin seeks out human help

I was thinking about the encoding, and not the range. There is more than one way to embed a meaningful thing in a sound. Some of the known ways to do so are impossible to interpret or detect without a common reference, but thankfully those are always artificial and not something you'd see evolving naturally. It could still be something pretty elusive, though.
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Old January 24 2013, 07:50 PM   #23
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Re: wild dolphin seeks out human help

Rhubarbodendron wrote: View Post
In my opinion the dolphin
1) was aware that the line was human-made
2) knew he (or she, rather, I think. The video is a bit dark) couldn't get it off alone
3) realized that removing a man-made thing might require fingers (and the human attached to them)
It would probably associate fishing boats with humans but could also have had friendly encounters with humans before.

What do you think? Are dolphins a sentinent species? Should they been given protection? Should they be treated different to other protected species, possibly even given the same status as humans? How about the other whales?
Yes, yes, they should be left alone and studied intensively and non-intrusively... Well, maybe except for that speaking with them-thing*, no, possibly.

*Why not just teach them English by shouting at them until they understand?

RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
Animals[*] compete with and kill their own kind all the time.
*Including primates and dolphins.

Gotham Central wrote: View Post
Is this really news? I was under the impression that Dolphins in the wild have been known to seek out humans when they need help. And the reverse has been known to be true. Dolphins will come to the aid of humans if they are aware of danger or see one in need.
Dolphins in the wild have indeed been known to come to the aid of humans¹ but afaik not coming to humans for help. Until recently that is: Dolphins are being exposed to humans like never before; they have become tourist attractions! People swim with them and take Dolphin tours; feeding of wild Dolphins in order to attract them is not legal though: it makes them associate boats with food. Many Dolphins are injured by boats because of this.


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¹ - Afaik it's probably because they recognize an (un-threatening) air-breather in distress (they do have that magic ultra-sound vision) and know they need to get to the surface to breathe.
It doesn't necessarily follow that they seek out humans, only that they have highly developed social skills.



Oh, And this thread needs the video, no matter how tacky

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Old January 24 2013, 10:01 PM   #24
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Re: wild dolphin seeks out human help

Oh there's no doubt in my mind that the dolphin was aware that he needed help and deliberately sought it out among humans. Not only did he approach a nearby diver and present himself with the hook plainly visible, he made adjustments during the assistance to help maintain position... AND... after leaving to surface and get some air, he returned BACK to the SAME HUMAN, patiently allowing the process to continue until freed. Once the dolphin felt the hook was gone, he happily swam away!

This clearly shows sentience. A typical wild animal would be caught up in the discomfort and not know what to do, perhaps even going berserk in the process. This dolphin was also thoughtful... he could have easily swam to another nearby human after having surfaced for air, because there were several divers nearby. But it returned to the same diver.

Unfortunately the article was sparse on information. I wonder if the dolphin made any kind of "thank you" gesture to the human who helped him.
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Old January 24 2013, 10:13 PM   #25
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Re: wild dolphin seeks out human help

RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
Animals compete with and kill their own kind all the time. When Humans kill each other it's because they're listening to their animal instincts instead of their rational mind.
That's a major sweeping generalization. SOME animals kill their own kind all the time. There are plenty who do not.

Human Beings are the ONLY creatures who have committed genocide and wage war. Now, one could say that it has to do with sentience... that lower forms of life can't think of the organization required to do such acts. But gorillas have been known to team up to defend themselves against predators. If they wanted to wipe out an entire tribe of other gorillas, they would conduct their own kind of warfare. They do not.

Elephants will attack other creatures and even out of malice. There have been ones kept in captivity that aren't happy with their predicament and over time, building up enough anger about their situation until they eventually "pop" and go on a rampage, killing any human in sight (even those who had nothing to do with their captivity). But that's because the elephant was under duress. Elephants do have territories, but they don't seek to expand them with the waging of war against other elephants to achieve that kind of objective.


Humans conducting genocide aren't following primitive instincts. They are following a rationalization passed down to them from those in control of their group. And those who go on mass murder sprees are often mentally deranged. Nothing instinctual about it--they're simply deranged or have a warped sense of morality.
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Old January 24 2013, 10:15 PM   #26
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Re: wild dolphin seeks out human help

Gary7 wrote: View Post
Human Beings are the ONLY creatures who have committed genocide and wage war.
Male lions for instance commit genocide as well when they take over a pride, just on a smaller basis. Every animal has fought in wars as well, but when they do, we call it territorial dispute or courtship behavior or whatever. Animals regularly kill each other over territory, food and sex.

Human behavior is just an extension, made possible by skill and numbers. It's no different in principle.

If they could, they would.


Seriously, we are no different, we are just animals. The fact that we have computers and fly to the Moon doesn't change that. We are simply just a little bit more sophisticated behause we have opposable thumbs and shit.
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Old January 24 2013, 10:42 PM   #27
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Re: wild dolphin seeks out human help

RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
Rhubarbodendron wrote: View Post
I very much agree with RJD and Deranged Nasat: the problem is how to define intelligence, particularly if it is of a different kind than ours? (my old Zoology Prof used to say: humans build bombs. No mouse ever would be such an idiot to build a mousetrap)
Eh, he's just being cynical. Animals compete with and kill their own kind all the time. When Humans kill each other it's because they're listening to their animal instincts instead of their rational mind.

Has nobody ever thought of developing a sign language for communication with dolphins? It worked with Washoe, after all! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washoe_(chimpanzee)
Like some others, it's occurred to me to use computers to catalog all the sounds a dolphin makes and then create an artificial language based on those sounds. A computer program could then be written that translates back and forth. Young dolphins could be trained in that language by scientists while still being trained in regular dolphin communication by older dolphins. We would then have a group of dolphin ambassadors.

All through your post all I could think of was that your effort would simply result in the creation of an army of dolphins that can only say.....DARWIN PLAY!
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Old January 24 2013, 10:48 PM   #28
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Re: wild dolphin seeks out human help

Triskelion wrote: View Post
Anyway, if it's a choice between dolphins and humans I choose humans. I think Earth has a better chance of fighting off asteroids with humans.
Asteroid is about fifth on the calamity list. The four above it are man-made. I choose dolphins.
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Old January 24 2013, 11:41 PM   #29
RJDonner&Blitzen
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Re: wild dolphin seeks out human help

Rhubarbodendron wrote: View Post
I don't think you can compare the killing of animals and humans with each other. Animals kill for food or territorial reasons (wich usually are about food, in the end). Humans often kill for fury, for greed and in order to completely extinct the others, not just their immediate opponents. That's something any other organism on this planet would consider totally unthinkable.
Humans kill for the same reasons. Resources, territories, mates. Many animals will attack another of their own kind on sight, even with nothing immediately at stake, simply because it represents competition. Humans tend to rationalize these instincts, which complicates things, but it's pretty much the same idea.

Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
One problem is that the language you develop will probably only be appropriate to that dolphin. Humans have hundreds of languages. There is no reason to believe all dolphins use the same one. If they do share complex information through vocal communication, it's likely that dolphin communities around the world have their own language families, dialects, and even some language isolates.
Sure, that's very likely, but the experiment would only be dealing with the local community (using a mixed population at an aquarium or something would probably be unsuccessful). If the system turned out to be useful, the experiment could be duplicated in other parts of the world.

Dolphin communication probably also consists of body language, so translating only their sounds wouldn't necessarily give you any useful information.
That's another advantage of using an artificial language-- it would bypass that problem.

In other words, this is a much, much more difficult problem than people may assume.
It's a very difficult problem indeed, but we'd gain some amazing information and insights if we were to solve it.

trekkiedane wrote: View Post
*Including primates and dolphins.
Yes, that's very true.

Gary7 wrote: View Post
That's a major sweeping generalization. SOME animals kill their own kind all the time. There are plenty who do not.
There may be some who do not, but the vast majority will. Competition is fundamental. All species compete with each other and with other species in some way.

Human Beings are the ONLY creatures who have committed genocide and wage war.
No, that's far from true. Many species exhibit those exact same behaviors, including primates. I'm not sure if gorillas do-- they're actually pretty gentle creatures-- but certainly chimps and other primates have.

Gotham Central wrote: View Post
All through your post all I could think of was that your effort would simply result in the creation of an army of dolphins that can only say.....DARWIN PLAY!
Well, at least we'd have the answer to our question.
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Old January 24 2013, 11:50 PM   #30
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Re: wild dolphin seeks out human help

Genocide is "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group". Animals do not commit genocide. PERIOD. A lion might kill another male to take over its pride, but it won't partner up with other lions to deliberately wipe out another group.

Skirmishes between animals are very localized and focused on "survival of the moment." There is no long term deliberation possible, which is what is required when enacting genocide.
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