双语热点:我们未来能否实现与宠物之间的“交谈”?

2021-06-09 05:13:55 GMT2021-06-09 13:13:55(Beijing Time) Sina English

还记得电影《灵犬莱西》中,人与狗之间彼此交流与感应的情节吗?如今距这部电影上映已经过去了半个世纪,但这种人与狗之间的交流仍未完全实现。技术进步有可能实现我们与宠物交谈的梦想吗?我们邀请了几名专家,看看他们对此怎么说。

Will We Ever Be Able to 'Talk' With Our Pets?

We're all familiar with the scene: Lassie bounds up to the farmhand and starts yipping; the farmhand says, “What is it, Lassie?”; Lassie keeps yipping; and eventually the farmhand deciphers, from this undifferentiated noise, some extremely specific message re: someone being trapped in a well or burning house. This fantasy of dog-human communication has, a half-century on, still not been realized: We have no real way to know what our pets are after when they make their cute little noises. But might that be changing? Has the tide of technological advancement brought us any closer to the dream of talking to one’s pet, or at least knowing with greater precision whatever it is our pets are trying to communicate? We’ve talked to a number of experts to find out.

电影《灵犬莱西》中有一段我们都熟悉的情节:莱西突然跳到农夫身边对着他汪汪大叫起来。主人问她:“怎么啦,莱西?”而莱西只是叫个不停,最终主人总算从这些无差别的噪音中破解出了特定的信息:原来是有人被困在了井里或是着火的房子里。如今距这部电影上映已经过去了半个世纪,但这种人与狗之间的交流仍未完全实现。当我们的宠物发出可爱的吠叫声时,我们依然搞不清楚它们所图为何。但这种情况有可能改变吗?技术进步有可能实现我们与宠物交谈的梦想吗?或者至少能更准确地了解我们的宠物试图交流的内容吗?我们邀请了几名专家,看看他们对此怎么说。

Alper Bozkurt

Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, NC State University

阿尔伯•博兹库特

北卡罗来纳州立大学电气与计算机工程教授

I prefer the term “communication” to “talk.” We can always talk to them, and they talk to us back in their own language. We do this on a daily basis. The question is whether we can understand their message. There are three ways to do it. The first one is to understand what message their vocalization carries or contains. This is their typical “talking.” The second one is their body language. Almost all the time, it carries a message. The last one is to be aware of their physiology such as how fast and varying their heart rate is or their muscle tension or breathing rate or stress hormone (cortisol) release. Our research team uses wearable or injectable electronic sensors to assess all of these signals. In return, we can teach them our messages through first being present with them and showing our real “self” rather than our emotional outbursts. We can also use traditional psycho-behavioral tools such as simple classical conditioning or operant conditioning. Our collaborative team with Dr. David Roberts from NC State Computer Science Department tries to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to achieve this.

相比于“交谈”,我更愿意用“交流”一词。我们本来就可以和它们交谈,它们也会用自己的语言和我们交谈,这样的事情每天都在发生。问题在于我们能否理解它们的信息。有三种理解方式,第一种是通过声音理解它们想要传达的信息,这种就是典型的“交谈”;第二种是借助它们的身体语言,因为动物几乎无时无刻不在通过身体语言传递信息;最后一种则是分析它们的生理信息,比如测量其心跳速度、肌肉紧张程度、呼吸频率、或压力激素(皮质醇)的分泌水平。我们的研究团队会利用可穿戴式或注射式的电子传感器,对这些信号进行评估。而反过来,我们也可以通过向它们展现“真正的自我”,而不是我们的情绪爆发,向它们传递我们想要表达的信息。我们还可以利用一些传统的心理行为学工具,比如经典条件反射或操作性条件反射。此外,我们与北卡罗来纳州立大学计算机科学院的戴维•罗伯茨教授还成立了一个合作小组,试图通过机器学习和人工智能实现这一目标。

My message here is that with the latest developments in biomedical sensors, wearable devices, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things, we are definitely in a new era where we have new tools to achieve a more conscious and efficient communication with our pets and working animals.

我想说的是,随着生物医学传感器、可穿戴设备、机器学习、人工智能、以及物联网技术的不断发展,我们如今已进入了一个全新的时代,有了全新的工具,可以与我们的宠物及工作动物进行更有意识、更加高效的交流。

注释:

人工智能(Artificial Intelligence),英文缩写为AI。它是研究、开发用于模拟、延伸和扩展人的智能的理论、方法、技术及应用系统的一门新的技术科学。

物联网(Internet of Things,简称IOT)是指通过各种信息传感器、射频识别技术、全球定位系统、红外感应器、激光扫描器等各种装置与技术,实时采集任何需要监控、 连接、互动的物体或过程,采集其声、光、热、电、力学、化 学、生物、位置等各种需要的信息,通过各类可能的网络接入,实现物与物、物与人的泛在连接,实现对物品和过程的智能化感知、识别和管理。物联网是一个基于互联网、传统电信网等的信息承载体,它让所有能够被独立寻址的普通物理对象形成互联互通的网络

Zachary Silver

PhD student in Psychology and Member of the Canine Cognition Center at Yale University

扎克利•希尔弗

耶鲁大学心理学博士生、犬类认知中心成员

At least to date, there’s no evidence that dogs, or any other pet, have the capacity for language as we know it. Language seems to be unique to our species—even our closest genetic relatives, like chimpanzees or bonobos, don’t seem to possess the capacity for language as we conceive it.

至少到目前为止,还没有证据显示狗或其它宠物拥有我们所谓的语言能力。语言似乎是人类独有的技能,就连我们在遗传学上关系最近的黑猩猩或倭黑猩猩,似乎也没有掌握我们所说的语言能力。

However, we do know that dogs are very skilled at interpreting our social cues and other attempts at communication. And the more we learn about how dogs understand these cues and gestures, the better we’ll be able to communicate with them. That said, that the extent to which dogs are able to understand communication is somewhat one-directional: they can take in a lot of what we’re telling them, but their capacity for communicating with us seems to be a little less sophisticated. But the more we understand about dogs’ communicative systems, the more nuanced our ability to communicate with them will become.

不过,我们知道狗非常擅长解读我们给出的社交信号。我们越是弄清狗是如何理解这些信号与手势的,就越能更好地与它们交流。话虽如此,但狗对交流内容的理解方式仍然是单向式的。它们可以听懂很多我们说的话,但无法与我们开展复杂的交流。不过,我们对狗的交流体系了解得越多,与它们的交流就会变得更加复杂和细腻。

注释:

social cues: 社会暗示; 社会线索; 社交提示

[例句]They are overly sensitive to social cues and worry too much about what others think of them. 他们对社交暗示过于敏感,过于在乎别人的眼光。

Right now, there's a group working with the TikTok famous dog Bunny—they're developing a system in which the dog presses a button to communicate certain words to humans. How robust this communication is remains an open question, but that’s one of the more exciting advances we have on the dogs-producing-communication side.

目前有一支研究团队正在与TikTok上的“网红狗狗”Bunny合作。该团队开发了一套系统,只要狗狗按下一个按钮,便可用特定的词汇与人类沟通。这种沟通的有效性尚待讨论,不过这已经算是个令人激动的进展了。

 

Brian Hare

Professor in Evolutionary Anthropology and Psychology & Neuroscience at Duke University

布莱恩•黑尔

杜克大学进化人类学、心理学与神经科学教授

The big surprise about dogs is how many words they can learn—the average service dog knows at least 50 commands, and a dog called Chaser knew over 1,000 names of objects and toys. Chaser was truly extraordinary because she could learn words through a process of exclusion. When she heard a new word, she inferred that it was for a new toy. So she brought back a toy that she had not yet learned a name for. Chaser remembered all the words she was taught and her vocabulary just kept growing—she only stopped at 1,000 because her owner had no more time to train her.

狗能听懂的词汇之多,可能会令你大吃一惊。服务犬平均能听懂至少50条命令。有一条叫Chaser的狗甚至能记住1000个物品和玩具的名字。Chaser的神奇之处在于,她可以通过“排除法”学习新词汇。只要听到一个新词语,她就会推断出,这是一个新玩具的名字,然后叼回一个它不知道名字叫什么的玩具。但凡教给她一个词,她都能牢牢记住,而且词汇量一直在不断增长。她的词汇量之所以停留在了1000,只是因为主人没时间训练她了而已。

As remarkable as dogs are at understanding us, this is just one side of communication. Does the conversation go both ways?

虽然狗狗很擅长理解我们的意思,但这毕竟只是单向沟通,我们能否将这种沟通转化为双向呢?

Dogs have fairly plastic vocal chords or a ‘modifiable vocal track.’ They can subtly alter their voice to produce a wide variety of different sounds with different meanings. In an experiment, researchers recorded ‘alone barks’ of dogs when they were alone, and ‘stranger barks’ when a stranger was approaching. Then they played this bark to people to see if they could distinguish the difference.

狗的声带“可塑性”很强,可以发出多种代表不同含义的声音。在一项实验中,研究人员录下了狗独处时发出的吠叫声、以及有陌生人来访时发出的吠叫声,然后向受试者播放这两段录音,看他们能否区分其中的不同。

Regardless of whether they owned a dog or not, most people could tell from a bark whether a dog was alone or being approached by a stranger, playing or being aggressive.

结果发现,无论受试者自己养没养狗,大多数人都能做出正确的判断。

Dogs can also use ‘showing’ behavior—many dog owners will get the hint for messages such as ‘let’s play fetch!’, ‘I need to go to the bathroom,’ ‘over here – look at this!’

狗还会通过一些特殊的行为来传递信息。许多狗主人都能从狗的动作中领会它们的意图,比如“我们来玩球吧”、“我想上厕所”或者“来这边看看”等等。

It’s surprising how much we can tell each other, even when we are not vocalizing. And of course the genius of dogs is that they can read our body language. If you throw a ball and your dog can’t find it, you can point to where it went, and your dog will happily trot off in that direction. It might seem simple, but your dogs must know that you know something they don’t and that your intention is to help them. This level of mind reading is called ‘theory of mind.’ It appears in human infants at around 9 months old and is the gateway to culture and language.

狗最神奇的地方在于,它们可以读懂我们的身体语言。如果你扔了个球出去,但你的狗没找到,你只要用手指一下球的方向,它就会欢天喜地地跑过去了。这个动作看上去很简单,但要想做到这一点,你的狗必须明白你知道一些它不知道的事情、并且你的意图是要帮助它。这种思维能力只有当人类婴儿长到9个月时才会出现,也是他们理解文化和语言的关键所在。

Far from being one sided, the conversation between dogs and people is quite sophisticated. As we keep exploring the minds of dogs, hopefully it will grow richer still.

狗与人之间的对话其实相当高深复杂。随着我们对犬类的思维世界展开进一步探索,但愿我们可以了解到更多信息。

Michael Wilson

Associate Professor, Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota

迈克尔•威尔森

明尼苏达大学生态学、进化学与行为学副教授

Yes, we already can, if our pets are talking birds, like parrots. Irene Pepperberg showed that her African grey parrot Alex was able to understand and produce words that suggested he knew the meaning of quite a few words, including terms for color, shape, and number.

如果这里的宠物是指鹦鹉等能言鸟类,那我们已经拥有与动物交谈的能力了。例如,动物心理学家艾琳•佩珀伯格饲养的非洲灰鹦鹉Alex可以就听懂和说出一些和颜色、形状、数字相关的词汇。

Even animals that can’t mimic speech can learn to communicate, with help from technology. Much like apes were trained to do in language experiments back in the 1970s, dogs can learn to use electronic communication pads to communicate with people.

而在技术的帮助下,就连无法模仿人类语音的动物也可以学会与人类交流。就像上世纪70年代在猿类身上开展的一系列语言实验一样,狗也可以学习使用专门的“电子交流垫”,从而与人类进行沟通。

So to a certain extent, we already can talk with our pets.

因此在特定情境下,我们已经可以与自己的宠物交谈了。

Will we ever be able to hold conversations with them? Ask them how they are feeling, or if they remember that trip to the park the other day, or get them to understand that we’re going away for a few days but will be coming back, or find out about their hopes and dreams for the future? That seems unlikely, because such conversations require more sophisticated language, and more sophisticated minds, than common pets like cats and dogs have been shown to have.

但我们能否与宠物进行长时间对话呢?我们能否像和其他人说话一样,问问它们今天心情如何,或者让它们明白自己要出门一段时间、过几天再回来?或是和它们谈谈希望和梦想?这似乎就不太可能了,因为这种水平的对话需要用到更加复杂的语言体系,对思维复杂程度的要求也更高,而猫狗等常见宠物似乎并不具备这些能力。

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