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Unleashing the Power of AI to Decode Dog Vocalizations

Unleashing the Power of AI to Decode Dog Vocalizations

We often dream about understanding what our pets, particularly our dogs, are trying to communicate to us. Thanks to the work being carried out by researchers at the University of Michigan, we might soon be able to achieve that dream. The researchers are using AI technologies to develop tools capable of identifying if a bark conveys playfulness or aggression.

Joining forces with Mexico's National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics, and Electronics (INAOE) in Puebla, the team has discovered that AI models initially trained on human speech can be repurposed and employed to analyze animal communication. This breakthrough was presented at the Joint International Conference on Computational Linguistics, Language Resources, and Evaluation.

"By using speech processing models initially trained on human speech, our research opens a new window into how we can leverage what we built so far to start understanding the nuances of dog barks," professed Rada Mihalcea, Janice M. Jenkins Collegiate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, and Director of U-M's AI Laboratory.

Despite numerous resources for recording human speech, acquiring animal vocalizations data is rather challenging, which has posed significant hindrances to developing AI models for the analysis of such data. To overcome these hurdles, the researchers adapted an existing model, originally designed for human speech analysis.

These models, forming the backbone of various voice-enabled technologies, including voice-to-text and language translation, were repurposed to interpret dog barks. Using a dataset of 74 bark recordings from dogs of ranging age, breed, and sex, the researchers were able to modify a machine-learning model known as Wav2Vec2, initially trained on human speech data, for this purpose.

The team found that Wav2Vec2 not only outperformed other models trained specifically on dog bark data but also achieved accuracy figures of up to 70% across four classification tasks.

"This is the first time that techniques optimized for human speech have been built upon to help with the decoding of animal communication," concluded Mihalcea. Understanding these vocalizations may enhance animal care and help humans better perceive and cater to dogs' emotional and physical needs.

Disclaimer: The above article was written with the assistance of AI. The original sources can be found on ScienceDaily.