Humans and dogs to have conversations? Could they testify against us in court?
An Amazon-backed report claims the technology could hit the shops within 10 years and experts in the US are beginning to work on the machine to allow pooches to finally be able to answer the question ‘who’s a good boy?’.
The study, co-authored by futurologist William Higham of Next Big Thing, states the technology is a realistic prospect as the demand for pet-friendly products continues to grow.
Mr Higham said: “Innovative products that succeed are based around a genuine and major consumer needs.
“The amount of money now spent on pets – they are becoming fur babies to so many people – means there is huge consumer demand for this. Somebody is going to put this together.”
The report builds on a study from the Northern Arizona University, which used artificial intelligence to decipher the calls of prairie dogs and found that they have “a sophisticated communication system that has all the aspects of language”.
Author Con Slobodchikoff told the Guardian: “They have words for different species of predator and can describe the colour of clothes of a human, or the coat of coyotes or dogs.”
He agreed that pet translators are not far off.
Mr Slobodchikoff added: “So many people would dearly love to talk to their dog or cat – or at least find out what they are trying to communicate.
“A lot of people talk to their dogs and share their innermost secrets.
“With cats, I’m not sure what they’d have to say. A lot of times it might just be ‘you idiot, just feed me and leave me alone.’”
However, Juliane Kaminski, a psychologist from Portsmouth University who analyses interactions between dogs and humans, does not believe that it is a realistic prospect.
She said: “We would not describe dogs’ forms of communication as language in the scientific sense.
“They do give out rudimentary signals of what they want and how they’re feeling.”