All posts tagged: sperm whale’s skull

How to Talk to Whales

How to Talk to Whales

One night last winter, over drinks in downtown Los Angeles, the biologist David Gruber told me that human beings might someday talk to sperm whales. In 2020, Gruber founded Project CETI with some of the world’s leading artificial-intelligence researchers, and they have so far raised $33 million for a high-tech effort to learn the whales’ language. Gruber said that they hope to record billions of the animals’ clicking sounds with floating hydrophones, and then to decipher the sounds’ meaning using neural networks. I was immediately intrigued. For years, I had been toiling away on a book about the search for cosmic civilizations with whom we might communicate. This one was right here on Earth. Sperm whales are the planet’s largest-brained animals, and their nested social structures are immense. About 10 whales swim together full-time as a unit. They will sometimes meet up with others in groups of hundreds. All of the whales in these larger groups belong to clans that can contain as many as 10,000 animals, or perhaps more. (The upper limit is uncertain, …