Actually the question is not “what if” but rather “when”…
I recently saw this TED talk entitled “Interspecies internet .. an idea in progress.” This is a combined initiative of four people — cognitive psychologist Diana Reiss (who works with Dolphins), musician Peter Gabriel, computer engineer Neil Gershenfeld (MIT professor) and Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet. Their core message is that we basically totally forgot to think about how to integrate the “bio mass’ (animals) in how we think of the future of internet.
Vince Cerf reminded us that the internet was intially intended to be a platform to connect machines (i.e. “internet of things avant la lettre”). Very quickly however it became an “internet of people” with more than 10billion people connected. It is only recently that we have come to retalk of the “internet of things” also called M2M (Machine to Machine) where we expect to have 50bn connected devices. Examples are connected cars, appliances personal health devices etc…
Introducing the Interspecies Internet (I 2 I)
In the last 40 years tons of experiments illustrated how we have learned to communicate / talk with (certain) animals. The most famous experiment is probably the KoKo Gorilla (the 8 part series of KOKO gorilla Youtubes are amazing). Also, project NIM, the communication with dolphins experiments from Denize Herzing using a key board board and many more.
All of a sudden now, the idea of an Interspecies Internet, where we can imagine zillions of species in all remote area’s of the world interacting with adapted key boards, being our sensory eyes and ears and provide us with who knows what valuable information that they may be uniquely poised to capture does not look that of a fantasy anymore.
From communication to sharing Moral Values.
While we are learning to communicate with animals more importantly we are learning that certain species have developed much further than we think as social society. For instance the Bonobo Apes, actually have a whole Moral system which allow them to install a sense of “justice” in their packs. Frans De Waal has done a remarkable TED on “animals and moral” (one of my most fascinating Ted Talks) on that very subject as well as written a book about it. Also in the experiment Kwibi we find unimaginable expression of emotion from a wild animal to human.
So now we have animals that could be an extention of the internet, be our sensory eyes and ears but even potentially make “judgement calls” on what is right or wrong….
Concluding, It is amazing to see how little we know about the intelligence of animals, how we have all looked at Darwinian theories to explain the gradual physical evolution of human species and how we failed to apply the same “gradual” Darwinian view on cognitive evolution ….. That’s why it is not a matter of “if” we will one day reviel the cognitive potential of animals but “when”. Once we do, enabling that untapped potential through the Interspecies Internet will one day, for sure, create a totally new dimension to human mankind (to finish on a light note ;-).
Do you agree ?