"We are optimistic and believe we can solve this," Gavagai CEO Lars Hamberg told Swedish news outlet Ny Teknik.
The research will take place over the course of four years; the team will work with eight bottlenose dolphins at Kolmården Wildlife Park's dolphinarium in Norrköping in southern Sweden. During this period, audio and video recordings will be analyzed. Gavagai's software will be used to process all data to track patterns in the dolphins' communication.
"We will not disturb them but just record their sounds around the clock and feed the computers with the sounds. All but two of the dolphins were born and bred in the zoo. They act like a common dolphin flock and probably have to say to each other what an ordinary flock has to say," senior adviser in zoology Mats Amundin told the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter.
"We have built up a semantic memory that looks at meaning instead of structure. By listening and observing what is said and written, it has learned 40 human languages. The hypothesis is that similar methods can be used for non-human communication," Lars Hamberg said.
According to Hamberg, the dolphin study has been made possible by a number of technical achievements over the last few years.
"Storing and managing data has become cheap. Also, there is a huge amount of dolphin sounds available together with extensive research. This allows for the rapid analysis of patterns," Hamberg said.
"The main reason for our involvement is that Gavagai has always been driven by scientific curiosity," Hamberg said.
Gavagai was founded in 2008 as an offshoot from the Swedish Institute of Computer Science. At present, the dolphin researchers are looking forward for a grant from the Swedish Research Council.
Dolphins produce a variety of vocalizations using nasal air sacs located just below the blowhole, usually in the form of clicks and whistles. Bottlenose dolphins are known to have signature whistles, which are unique to a specific individual. These whistles are used for communication and identification. Many regard it as the dolphin equivalent of a human name.
Never miss a story again — sign up to our Telegram channel and we'll keep you up to speed!