Dogs can’t speak human. Here’s the tech that could change that.

With the help of AI, scientists are learning how to translate animals’ vocalizations and facial expressions into something we can understand. Recent advances include an AI system that listens in on marmoset monkeys to parse the dozen calls they use to communicate with each other and one that reads sheep’s faces to determine whether an animal is in pain.

Taking note of the research, an Amazon-sponsored report on future trends released last summer predicted that in 10 years, we’ll have a translator for pets.

Being able to communicate with animals would mean more than just forging closer emotional ties with them. It could eliminate the guesswork in caring for animals and even save their lives.

In the U.S. alone, an estimated 3 million unwanted cats and dogs are euthanized each year — in many cases because of their poorly understood behavioral problems. But a dog that exhibits aggression could simply be afraid — and if we have the technology to understand its fears, we might be able to find a way to spare its life. “You could use that information and instead of backing the dog into a corner, give the dog more space,” Slobodchikoff said.

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