Interspecies internet

What if the internet doesn’t only connect people, but also animals with each other - and us?

This is the goal of computer scientist Neil Gershenfeld: to create an Interspecies Internet. Together with Vince Cerf (one of the founders of the internet), Diana Reiss (cognitive psychologist) and Peter Gabriel (musician) they are bundling their experience and talents to create it.

Gershenfeld says the idea that people are the only species with consciousness is a ‘human vanity’. Animals are self-aware and have cognitive abilities. “If you think about these animals as self-aware, interspecies internet covers the same range we use the internet for.”

Gershenfelds goal is to further develop animal cognition, provide enrichment for captive animals, and mediate communication between different kinds of animals. Also, Diana Reiss has trained dolphins to communicate with people through an underwater keyboard. Peter Gabriel has recorded duets with primates on a keyboard. So, all three of them have communicated in some way with animals.

Gabriel says this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the possibilities. In the near future Gabriel sees the architects of the interspecies internet develop that can show other cognitive animals see how smart they are. Gershenfeld looks even further ahead: he thinks that the interspecies internet may lead to an intergalactic internet: a way for humans to communicate with aliens.

Want to know more? Watch the TedTalk here.


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