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Project Janus

Here is an email I received in response to one of my essays.

Project Janus : Orcinus Orca : : 2012-07-13


I've been involved in three different Interspecies Communications projects in my life and I can say with confidence that Cetaceans are intelligent and understand the concept language. Two were private ventures I cannot discuss without approval. The third is Dr. Lilly’s JANUS project. I have many hundreds of hours of hands on experience with Orcas and Dolphins. I’ve swum with both wild and captive Dolphins.

What is really needed is a way to communicate, to be able to converse with this Intelligence and learn more about it. Sign Language, fancy keyboards and recorded whistles have been tried in various forms over the past thirty years with little to no real breakthroughs. Technological hardware changes over the years appear to have made little difference in these areas. It seems clear to me from my experiences that these are not the way to go. Especially with a species whose primary sense is sound. Humans are primarily visual.

The Primary Issue is frequency not language. First we have to be able to hear and speak to each other properly in order to communicate.

The majority of Cetacean vocal / hearing range [ 20 Khz up to 250 Khz for some species ] is above the human hearing range [ tops out at 20-22 Khz ]. Humans are simply not designed to hear what Cetaceans are saying nor are Humans designed to speak in their range as well as the reverse being true. Effectively it is the same issue as being able to communicate with a deaf/mute Human. Just because a deaf/mute Human cannot hear us or speak to us does not mean they are not intelligent or are unable to communicate with us in some other fashion. Somehow I think Sign Language or keyboards would be a bit difficult for Cetaceans. Because of this some other type of technology is required for effective and useful communication to take place. Some sort of device that can translate between the Human hearing/vocal range and the Cetacean hearing/vocal range.

Surprisingly enough such a device has been around since 1945 that could do this job. It just has never been applied to this problem as far as I’m aware, or maybe it has.

You can hear this device in operation in the last half of the Haro Strait recording what they call the Metallic Voice.

Interestingly enough it just so happens that this is a Military Device too. This is Public Knowledge, I’m not revealing any Secret Info here, it’s in Wikipedia. Having been in the Military, I was fully aware of this device when I heard the above mentioned recording and knew exactly what I was listening to. As would anyone who has some radio knowledge

This is essentially the type of system Dr. Lilly, John Kert and Taras Kiceniuk [ this is the Gossamer Condor guy I believe ] were trying to create with slightly different methods for each. With a few simple modifications to it’s operation it could be used to achieve Lilly’s goal.

Perhaps it is just another secret military project where they have been talking to Cetaceans for Decades and the public is just not aware of it. Like the people who made that recording just thought it was all just Sonar because they did not know about the other device’s existence despite it being Public Knowledge.

Additionally there is a way to make the Metallic Voice in the recording intelligible. I know what is required but don’t have the necessary equipment to do it. The recording just needs to be mixed with a signal that matches the original carrier frequency of the transmission, which is 19 Khz.

Where does Science say that there can be only one Intelligent species per planet?

Humans only occupy 25% of the planet, the land. Cetaceans occupy the other 75%, the world’s Oceans.

It’s a recurring theme in Science Fiction of multiple Intelligent species per planet. Science Fiction often turns out to lead the way to new things. Landing on the Moon was once the domain of Science Fiction. Now it is Science FACT.

Only in recent history have these two territorial domains begun to overlap with devastating consequences for Cetaceans. A Genocidal Holocaust that continues to this day which is euphemistically called "Scientific Research".

Hopefully the Human species will wake up soon and recognize this fellow Intelligence inhabiting our home, Planet Earth.

My Cetacean friends and I continue to wait for this awakening.

In case you weren’t aware, DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) used to produce their own magazine called, appropriately enough, Hard Copy. November 1984 Volume 13 # 11 issue. They did an article on JANUS. You can’t miss it, there are Dolphins on the cover. If you are unable to acquire a copy of this issue, let me know. I was onsite the day they were there to do the article. When published they sent us a box of the issue. I managed to get one and have held onto it through the years. A few years ago I rediscovered while moving and have scanned the article.



I suppose you know I too worked at Project Janus in 1979-11. I would have been 31 years old at the time. Joe and Rosalie (the teenage dolphins), John Lilly, Toni Lilly, John Kert, Jennifer Yankee, Tom (the other trainer), Taras Kiceniuk and Peter (plump intelligent guy) were all there at the time. Werner Erhard and son dropped in one day which is a story in itself. I also hung out with some of the Marine World dolphins. I was working with the SD350 Fast Fourier hardware to analyse the frequency spectrum of dolphin sounds in real time and graph them on the screen. Had we a sound card, we could fairly easily gave created a real-time frequency down-shifter. We were focusing then on trying to analyse the sounds visually. The dolphins made lots of sounds for me in the audible region as well. One way of describing the device is it a stronger version of the device Laurie Anderson uses to make her voice sound male.

Maybe someday we will have a device like a pocket translator that you press a button so say an English phrase and it plays a delphinc whistle pattern and vice versa. Recognising delphinic sound should be quite a bit simpler than doing human sounds. There is also the matter that dolphins process sound ten times faster than we do. We are stuck in molasses to them. They would give hurry up signals.

If we simply upshifted human sounds I suspect the dolphins would find them horrifying. They would be very different from the single-frequency trombone-like noises they make. We would sound very raspy, like two dozen dolphins singing off key.

It is so frustrating that scientists who have never so much as touched cetacean think they so much better than those of us who have spend some time with them how intelligent they are. I wrote a bit about my experiences and reflections on cetacean intelligence in an essay

Project Janus II : Orcinus Orca : : 2012-07-14


The photo above was taken at Sea World San Diego around 1979-80 of their public access Dolphin Petting Pool. They cycled four different Orcas through this tank in pairs. I was going to college in San Diego at the time and I was pleasantly surprised when upon revisiting SW I found Orcas in the petting pool. I spent all day every weekend and days I had off at the tank, rain or shine getting to know them. We built up quite a good friendship and you can see from the photo. I never fed them through all of this either, tactile interaction and eye contact only. Which I also think shows that they don’t have to be dangerous in captivity, which is not to say I support captivity. There would have to be major changes before I would see it as even slightly acceptable.

The four Orcas I got to know are:

ID Name Gender Notes
SWC-00-7801 Kotar male now deceased
SWC-00-7804 Kasatka female now leader SWC Pod
SWC-00-7806 Katina female now leader SWF Pod
SWC-00-7705 Canuck 2 male now deceased

I did not know their names until just last year when I met someone who was able to identify them. This one has been identified as Kotar. I have many more photos like this and some have stories to go with them. I was extremely privileged to get to know them in this manner early in their lives before being subjected to all the Operant Conditioning they are put through for being show animals and being free of the constraints of being staff or an actor [ sometimes referred to as a trainer ] in one of the shows. I was able to learn what they are really like, not the story that SW and OSHA would like us to Believe. I got to know them and some of their culture and the proper ways to interact with them.

I started doing volunteer work there about 8 months before JANUS was shutdown and was there until the end. I also helped for the transport of Joe and Rosie to SFO for Flying Tigers Airlines to Florida for their work with Rick O’Barry who I also met at that time. I looked then the same as I do in this photo if that helps you remember if you saw me there or not. I have pictures of that somewhere in storage.

I don’t remember you. There were lots of people popping in and. I was involved with the computer people. You were quite a handsome guy, so I think I would remember you had we met.

With your experience what do you think of the above device? I think it is easily understandable for the Cetaceans and would work. This would be a Real-time system and would totally eliminate any processing delay required for whistle analysis. One might think of the device as a walkie-talkie for talking to Cetaceans. It would also be better if the device was Stereo and not mono. This concept was born when I was at JANUS testing a piece of equipment someone had donated called a Wet Phone. An early design surface to diver or diver to diver communications system. It is pretty much the same as the UQC (a primitive underwater telephone that sends the signal on a high frequency sonic carrier) except the Wet Phone operated with a carrier of 35 Khz instead of the 19 Khz of the UQC. To Cetaceans it would sound like a Modulated 35 Khz whistle.

I don’t understand how your device works, why you have carriers for instance. I see two problems, cetacean to human and human to cetacean. Cetacean to human could be handled by a high-frequency hydrophone attached to some sort of analog to digital converter fast enough to handle the high frequencies. An ordinary sound card would not suffice. Presumably you could find an A/D board fast enough. You could likely do the FFTs (Fast Fourier Transforms) in software in real time now. Dolphins sounds are quite simple, just one frequency at a time, just fast and rapidly changing frequency, like a tiny very fast trombone. You can display that visually, or slow it down and downshift it, and play it through an ordinary sound card. Going the other way strikes me as much more difficult. Any sort of upshift/speedup of human voice is not going to sound remotely like a cetacean. So think you will have to mathematically synthesise your sound. The cost of hardware has come down significantly since JANUS days. You might be able to get most of it working using recordings and ordinary desktop equipment and have everything ready to go when you get your chance to go live. It would be neat if the device were cheap enough that anyone interacting with wild cetacea could use it in ways the creators never dreamed.

All I did was put the hydrophone in the water and went back to the equipment shack and looked at the O-scope while I did a test transmission. I was simply testing the device to see if it worked at all. I saw the signal spike which told me it was working and I want back to remove the hydrophone. When I got there, Joe and Rosie who had been in the other tank were right there in front of the hydrophone seemingly intently interested in it. Proof of Concept but it was never officially documented.

That reminds me of the night when I showed them my delphinic etch-a-sketch alpha code. They went nuts making all kinds of sounds I had never heard a dolphin make before. In theory they could have drawn pictures, but they just made the cursor zoom around in mad circles.

I also think it’s long past due to do some communications research with Orcas.



Project Janus III : Orcinus Orca : : 2012-07-16

Frequencies above 30 Khz are defined by humans as radio frequencies that are divided up in to different bands.

Radio frequencies are 3 kHz to 300 GHz, but they are electromagnetic waves. Sound waves are mechanical. You will be instantly dismissed by scientists if you muddle the two.

This range could also be defined as ultrasonic too. This is where the majority of Cetacean hearing is. I merely call them carriers because that is the Human term for them. Dolphins would call them whistles.

If I just keyed up this device, the Cetaceans would simply hear a pure 35 Khz whistle, a human if it could hear it would call it a steady tone. Now if I speak into it, I turn it into an AM modulated 35 Khz whistle. Something they create every day and can easily replicate.

Have you ever listened to an AM or FM modulated whistle? I am not sure wetware can demodulate them. It is not a biological way of encoding things. I doubt dolphins would make sense of it either. That is no reason not to try it.

It does not matter if the output does not sound like Cetacean or Human, it is not supposed to. It is merely a platform for the common language Lilly referred to that both sides would have to learn. This part would go quickly as much of a language has already been developed via sign language.

While giving the hand signals for a particular behavior, speak into the microphone and generate a modulated whistle that is an audio equivalent of the hand signal. Learning curve here should go fast here as they know this part already.

Essentially this is a radio like process. Voice added to carrier [whistle] and transmitted as modulated whistle. Receive modulated whistle, remove whistle [ carrier ] from and you are left with voice. This is merely raising the human voice up to a higher frequency range, without distortion and changing it back down to the human range, again without distortion. I refer you to the Haro Strait recording if you haven’t listened to that already.

FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) is not needed for this process. Frequency translation is not needed. Analog to Digital and back is not needed Computers are not needed.

I really think that this process has been way over thought by a researchers in this field and the process can be much more simple than it has been made out to be. I am also integrating some knowledge from other fields that researchers in this don’t have.

The hardware to do this is extremely cheap. only $1,600.00 for a top of the line model current equivalent of the old Wet Phone I tested. So surely hardware expense cannot be the reason why this is not being researched.

Anyone can get this device and use it as you say, However, this is not a language in itself, but merely the proper medium which is necessary to communicate with Cetaceans. Both the Cetacean and Human using the device would have to learn this third common language.

The biggest problem in being able to communicate with Cetaceans is the frequency difference. Without solving this issue, a language is impossible and irrelevant. The lack of any really progress in the last 30 years is evidence of this. This is why audio cues have been less successful than hand signals. We are only trying to communicate with them in the lower end of their hearing range. This is like you listening to a movie on your home theater with only the sub-woofer working. You're gonna miss a whole lot of the audio that is there. The Dolphin sounds are not composed of just one frequency. We can’t hear the rest because it is out of our hearing range. It was only discovered fairly recently that Elephants communicate sub-sonically. They didn’t just start doing this, they've been doing it all the time and Humans have just recently become aware of it. The same concept applies here. I have come up with a solution to this problem.

I think we were on the right track at Janus with FFTs. The piece we would need beyond what we achieved then would be a pattern matcher to analyse the dolphin sounds. Almost every researcher falls into the trap of figuring out ways to give the dolphin commands and measures success by compliance. To motivate the dolphins and to offer them reasonably respect, it has to work the other way around, they give us commands. But people are too proud and imagine there is no way you can measure intelligence that way.

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