Bird Language

ongoing project, first stage 2018 / neural network

The first 15 seconds is a real nightingale singing, the rest part is the singing generated by AI
This project explores the possibilities of Artificial Intelligence in a context of bio-semiotics. I was interested in the language of birds because it offers in several aspects the nearest analogy to human language and, probably, the imitation of the birds' language was the basis for the human language evolution.
The project is inspired by the ideas of Noam Chomsky about innate linguistic structures - universal grammar - typical for both human language and animals and birds sign systems. The experience with machine learning and text demonstrates that AI captures this universal grammar by statistically extracting the patterns of language, therefore, in the case of the birds' language, machine learning can distinguish peculiar "birds morphemes" - semantic elements, and form from these elements a certain utterance.
Within the framework of the project, I trained a neural network on the sounds of nightingales and created a situation of communication between non-human agents: birds and AI. This is a metaphor of communication between natural and technological where a human is something unnecessary.
The second stage of the project is a creation of a machine learning translator from birds' language to human language.
Deep Learning is identifying patterns in Big Data of birds signs and grouping similar signs into clusters. We are interpreting these clusters and making the AI-translator for interspecies communication.
In this case AI is not only a mediator or interface between human beings and birds but rather an organ or full partner, semiotically active. It helps to understand bird's subjectivity through it's language. The inspiration came from Jakob Johann von Uexküll's concept of Umwelt - the experiential world that a being inhabits, its perceptual surrounds.
At this stage we are working in collaboration with scientists: ornithologists and Artificial Intelligence experts.


Veronica Samotskaya, ornithologist, scientist-biologist, science popularizer, journalist
Natalia Soboleva, AI expert
Konstantin Yakovlev, PhD in Physics and Mathematics, AI expert

The first stage of the project was supported by
Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (Moscow)