The Sounds of Life.
The mood in Davos.
1. John Thornhill:
New technological tools are enabling a global community of biologists and amateur scientists to explore the natural world of sound in richer detail and at greater scale than ever before. Just as microscopes helped humans observe things not visible to the naked eye, so ubiquitous microphones and machine learning models enable us to listen to sounds we cannot otherwise hear. We can eavesdrop on an astonishing soundscape of planetary “conversations” among bats, whales, honey bees, elephants, plants and coral reefs. “Sonics is the new optics,” Karen Bakker, a professor at the University of British Columbia, tells me.
When it comes to sonic data, Bakker…raises the tantalizing possibility over the next two decades of interspecies communication as humans use machines to translate and replicate animal sounds, creating a kind of Google Translate for the zoo. “We do not yet possess a dictionary of Sperm Whalish, but we now have the raw ingredients to create one,” Bakker writes in her book ‘The Sounds of Life.’ (Source: ft.com, press.princeton.edu)