The Internet of Animals. Game on!

I’ve spent almost every day for three or four years thinking about, talking about, writing about, and working towards something I’ve come to call an internet of animals.

This week, two things happened that expanded what the internet of animals could become.

1) Some scientists used the internet to link the brains of rats and get them to do stuff together

Guardian: Brain-to-brain interface lets rats share information via internet

“Even though the animals were on different continents, with the resulting noisy transmission and signal delays, they could still communicate. This tells us that we could create a workable network of animal brains distributed in many different locations.”

Nature: Intercontinental mind-meld unites two rats

“Nicolelis’ … team is already working to link the brains of four mice. The researchers are also set to start similar experiments with monkeys, in which paired individuals control virtual avatars and combine their brain activity to play a game together.”

Daily Mail: Telepathy is real! Scientists develop mind-reading implant that links the brains of rats in the US and Brazil

“British expert Professor Christopher James, from the University of Warwick, who has conducted similar research, said: ‘We are far from a scenario of well-networked rats around the world uniting to take us over, the stimulation is crude and specific. As for the ethics, I struggle to think of any applications that would not have ethical issues’.”

2) Some other famous scientists and a famous musician proposed an “interspecies internet”

TED 2013 Interspecies Internet

TED Blog: The interspecies internet: Diana Reiss, Peter Gabriel, Neil Gershenfeld and Vint Cerf at TED2013

Gabriel:”What would happen if we could somehow find new interfaces – visual, audio — to allow us to communicate with the remarkable beings we share the planet with.”

Gershenfeld: “I was struck by the history of the internet, because it started as the internet of middle-aged white men … I realized that we humans had missed something — the rest of the planet … We’re starting to think about how you integrate the rest of the biomass of the planet into the internet.”

Cerf: “What’s important about what these people are doing: They’re beginning to learn how to communicate with species that are not us, but share a sensory environment. [They’re figuring out] what it means to communicate with something that’s not a person. I can’t wait to see these experiments unfold.”

Mashable: Peter Gabriel, Vint Cerf Launch ‘Internet for Animals’

Cerf: “We should not restrict the Internet to one species. Other species should be allowed to participate.”

Facebook: The Interspecies Internet

“We hope to link up the captive species who already have demonstrated a cognitive and linguistic understanding of interspecies communication from facility to facility (especially the families that have been separated), and additionally to their species in their native lands. Schoolchildren in the native regions where these animals are in danger, would be able to communicate with the animals via tablet and learn that these animals are intelligent and friendly.

Yup. Things are about to get weird.