The idea of humans being able to talk to and understand animals may soon become a reality. A researcher is working on a device that may be used as a pet language translator in the future.
Using artificial intelligence, scientists learn how to translate vocalizations and facial expressions of animals into something that humans can understand.
Animal behavior expert Con Slobodchikoff is one of these researchers whose work may allow pets and their owners to effectively converse with each other using a pet translator in less than ten years.
I know this might sound great on the surface, but be careful what you wish for. As of now, humans and dogs have the perfect relationship. Food, walks, belly rubs, it really can’t get much better. Us humans love our dogs, and that’s probably because we don’t know much about them, personally.
See, here’s the issue with your dog being able to talk. It would start off great. Your dog could just tell you when he/she needed to go the bathroom or eat. Your dog could start making small talk with the mailman instead of barking. And lastly, you and your dog could finally enjoy your favorite TV shows together. But here’s where things would go south. Say one night, you and your English speaking loyal companion are sitting on the couch, watching some CNN to wind the night down. A segment about immigration comes on, which sparks what starts as a lighthearted debate. You’ve always left CNN on the TV when you went out food shopping, so over the years, your dog has formulated some ideas of his own.
Here’s where the trouble starts. You’ve always leaned left when it comes to the immigration system, and believe in opening the borders. You assume your K9 feels the same way, but within the conversation, your dog begins to unveil that he believes that the U.S. cannot sustain open borders, and that our out of date infrastructure and health care cannot take that type of population growth. You counter argue that the immigrants could be seen as assets to our economy, and take skilled labor jobs that have remained unfilled, due to the propaganda created by higher education institutes that college is the only path to success. Your dog gets into the topic of the importance of having an educated population, by you suggest that conversation is for a different time. Your dog concurs.
The debate then takes a turn into the feminist movement, and you begin to talk about the latest Aziz Ansari accusations. You think that there are some blurred lines in the story, and that it seems as if the situation at hand leans more towards a bad date than assault. Your dog on the other hand, holds firm on the belief that when a successful man uses his power and stature to manipulate a woman into sexual acts, that consent alone is not enough. Harvey Weinstein’s name comes up in conversation, but you both agree that this situation isn’t comparable. Regardless, there is new found tension in your relationship, but you hope that you can both move past it.
You both agree to watch an episode of The Office to lighten the mood. Your dog suggests an episode from season 8, but you mention how you think the show became a shell of itself after Steve Carell left. Your dog then brings up the point that even though the cast isn’t as strong without Michael, the writing on the show is as strong as ever, and mentions how Toby was promoted as the show runner for the last two seasons. You find that hard to believe, since Toby is so “blah” (you hate that you used that term in conversation) in the show, but you look it up on IMDb, and stand corrected. You both fall asleep shortly after the cold open.
The tension continues to grow in the days that follow. Your dog begins to make passive aggressive remarks in regards to the food you feed him, and always has something to say about your outfit choices in the morning. You took a risk today and wore that new cardigan you bought with that gift card you got for Christmas, but your self esteem takes a hit when your dog mentions how he read an article on GQ about how that’s more of a fall piece, and its almost memorial day. You feel like he could have easily kept that comment to himself, but you lash back, stating how he still has yet to shed his winter coat. He says its called layering. You call him gay, immediately regretting using that term, since you sit next to a gay guy at work, and will feel guilty about it the rest of the day. You’re also still self conscious about your cardigan, and wonder if your gay coworker would be offended if you asked him his opinion on it, because he might think the only reason you’re asking him is because he’s gay. And well, since that is the case, you decide to move past it.
You come home from work later that night, and you and your dog are both happy to see each other. You’ve both had a long day, and are eager to share a nice evening together. You both sit for dinner (he sits at the table now, because you realized if he can talk he probably shouldn’t have to eat on the floor). You ask each other how your days were, and your dog mentions how he spent the day doing some research on the immigration topic, and notes that you actually made some smart points. You guys find some middle ground on the Aziz situation, but your dog still refuses to separate the art from the person, which disappoints you, since you guys were just getting started on season two of Masters of None. Your dog makes a witty remark about how at this rate, you won’t be able to watch anything on Netflix without looking at a sexual predator. You both chuckle. Your dog then tries to tell you about a dream he had last night. You let him finish, but deep down, you hate when people talk about their dreams. After you both do the dishes, you agree on an after dinner walk.
Things begin to seem back to normal, as you both have always thoroughly enjoyed your evening walks. You play fetch with your dog for a while, and your dog suggests switching roles for once, and maybe he throws the ball and you chase it. You think its a good idea, and even though you guys get some peculiar looks and side-eyes from other people in the park, you both have a great time. As you both tire out, you agree to start walking back to the house.
On your way past the basketball courts down the street, you see three black teenagers walking in your direction. Your dog suggests that you cross the street, but you don’t see a reason why. Your dog says how he just wants to avoid confrontation, and you quickly call him out on being afraid of black people. You know that there’s been a long time stereotype of dogs being afraid of black men, but you always thought your dog was better than that. You dog than sites the statistic concerning what percent of violent crimes are committed by African Americans, but you are quick to point out that the statistic is skewed since the survey only took low income neighborhoods into consideration. While the debate is still going on, the young men pass, only to stop and comment on the cuteness of your dog. He feels like an asshole, but not as much as he should.
After the conclusion of the walk, you and your dog get into a monstrous argument about racism and police brutality. He knows some police dogs who serve, so he has a bias, but you know deep down that you should give police more credit, and that its a job that you could never do. You both come to an agreement about how tough of a job being a cop is, but you still have a weird feeling that your dog is still holding back, and that his anger stems from minorities rather than the law aspect of the situation. The tension grows during the next week, and your relationship begins to stumble.
You start working later, and begin to intentionally schedule meetings for later in the afternoon. Your dog starts passing up walks, and instead, begins to spend more time in the backyard tending to his tennis ball collection he’s been meaning to organize for years. He still thinks that there’s value to the collection, but that’s just because he’s been watching too many episodes of Pawn Stars. Still, for some reason, he’s really into that tennis ball collection.
Tension grows until one night after dinner, your dog is outside, once again, tending to his tennis ball. Its become obsessive, and you begin to think if there’s more to it. You walk outside to go talk to him, and he immediately begins acting weird around you. His left paw is shaking, and he’s sniffling more than usual. Under the tennis balls, you see there’s something deeper in the whole he dug, and move him out of the way to investigate. You then find a bag of crack cocaine, as well as your Pyrex pot that you’ve been looking for. You expect that your dog would put up a fight, but then you think that maybe he wanted to get caught. You wonder how your dog could have ever started to cook crack, then you remember that time you guys watched that Drug Wars marathon that one Saturday.
It gets worse. You immediately scavenge your house for any other traces of drugs, but what you find is even more disturbing. Under your dog’s bed, you find a copy of Mein Kampf, as well as a couple of Hitler’s paintings from art school. You knew you shouldn’t have let him hang out with those German Shepherds. You now realize you have a crackhead Nazi dog who’s passively racist, but also is a strong believer that consent in sex is not always enough.
You blame it all on yourself, and you enter into a deep depression. Your dog, unable to financially support his crack addiction, begins to sell himself, bringing in sketchy individuals into the house at all hours of the night. You notice a black car spends an unusual amount of time parked outside your house, but don’t think much of it. Finally, one day, the feds break down your front door, and complete one of the biggest drug busts in your towns history. It makes the local papers in news, but its not a big enough story for the national media to pick it up. Your dog get sentenced to 40 years in prison, which thankfully, will be served in dog years. Now, you only get to see your dogs during visitation hours, and even when he gets out, you’ll always know in the back of your head, that he was once a Nazi drug kingpin, who still really believed in consent when it comes to sex.
So yea, that’s why dogs not being able to talk might be a good thing. Then again, it actually would be pretty cool.