Whale Talk

I much enjoyed Elizabeth Kolbert’s Sept. 11 New Yorker article on attempts to decode whale communication. The history of attempts to communicate with animals and understand what they are communicating among themselves is mostly one of hype and failure, but the scientists studying a population of sperm whales near the island of Dominica, in the Caribbean, may be on to something. If they can build up a big enough data base of the patterns of sounds these creatures make, coupled with the circumstances in which they make them, artificial intelligence may enable us to make sense of what they are saying. Some form of meaningful human-whale dialog may be possible.