The Canine Mystique

The Canine Mystique

In a recent post about the debut of DogTV, I was critical of the notion that the network was targeted at “stay-at-home” dogs, reinforcing the old prejudice that “A dog’s place is in the house.”

Apparently my indignation was shared by the guys at Google and Georgia Tech. Behold FIDO (for Facilitating Interactions for Dogs with Occupations), a new technology to annoy dogs by wiring them into Google.

According to its creators, FIDO will “give crime dogs and other K-9s a clearer and more direct way to communicate with their handlers.” For all their intellectual prowess, dogs have largely restricted their communication methods to barking, biting, and urinating on things.

The MIT Technology Review warned that, if unchecked, “the technology could transmit video from a dog’s perception to a human viewer”, providing humanity with startling new insights into the presence of a squirrel nearby, or highly detailed cartography of where soup bones are buried.

The technology has immediate uses, such as allowing bomb-detecting and rescue dogs to communicate important information (“Bomb!”, “Person!”) that can’t be conveyed by conventional low-tech bomb-detecting and rescue dogs.

FIDO technology might also be adapted to stay-at-home dogs, allowing them to communicate with their owners. Associate Professor Melody Jackson of Georgia Tech believes that someday dogs would be able to communicate their desire to be fed or go outside, messages no dog has ever been able to express to a human. While Prof. Jackson believes this data could be conveyed by text messages, it is just a short step from there to allowing your dog to access Twitter:

@Spot: glb plrglh brk brk brk 4 u #ArfArf RT

(Click on the picture to read the original article.)

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