Dolphin uses iPad as way to communicate with humans


77 Responses to “Dolphin uses iPad as way to communicate with humans”

  1. nanuq says:

    Dolphins are too good for Blackberry, I take it? You just know there’s a porpoise behind this product placement.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Surely that should be “Human uses i-pad in attempt to communicate with dolphins”. It’s not their fault we’re still using physical devices…

  3. Ugly Canuck says:

    You would think that the radically differing environmental conditions under which the dolphin evolved, compared to we ancient forest dwellers, would result in some differing aspects or styles to their reasoning or reckoning, as distinct from ours.
    I mean, it stands to reason.( No pun intended.)

  4. Anonymous says:

    “Waterproofing, processor speed, touch-sensitivity, ANTI-GLARE SCREENS, and dolphin-friendly programs are essential.”

    Maybe Apple will listen to the dolphins and quit limiting options for those of us who find glossy screens so annoying to use.

  5. grimc says:

    The facility’s orcas however, have decided to wait for the rumored Android-based tablet. “No Flash, no Farmville, no way,” said a spokesfish before being eaten.

  6. dougrogers says:

    But where do dolphins, uhm stand, on the open source debate? Merlin was born into captivity, so he likely sees no problem with the walled garden.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wait a minute…exactly how long has the iPad been available for???

  8. MattInBrooklyn says:

    I suppose another requirement would be “bright enough to see in daylight.”

  9. Anonymous says:

    This reminded me of that terrible Keanu Reeves movie Johnny Mnemonic with the god-like dolphin that helped save the world.

  10. aplusbi says:

    I thought Apple rejected the Dolphin app?

  11. Anonymous says:

    The next thing you know try will be surfing for dolphin porn!!

  12. Forrest says:

    On the Internet, nobody knows your a dolphin.

  13. Axelray says:

    Nice Nat Geo doo-rag, Jack.

  14. Jamie Sue says:

    I fully believe that dolphins and whales are as intelligent as humans, but that we are unable to accurately determine that because of the communication barrier between our two species. To me it seems silly to assume that because we are at the top of the primate tree that we are the dominant intelligence on planet Earth. It seems far more likely that we co-hold that title with other species who may not have needed the same markers for intelligence as we did to survive (tool making, for example.)

    So what happens when, using an interface like this, dolphins start to ask existential questions or demanding more space or release? I know it sounds silly, but if they are as intelligent as I believe then it’s possible.

    What do we do then?

    • IWood says:

      That is relevant to my interests.

      (If I’m allowed to do that…mods feel free to smack this with the deletehammer if not.)

    • Adam Fields says:

      Well, then we start eating them.

    • knodi says:

      Why do you believe that? Is it because you really really want to? Because it would be totally cool?

      Just because a creature shows compassion and shares a lot of mammalian behavior patterns with us, doesn’t mean they’re as intelligent as humans. Not unless you drastically redefine the word “intelligent”.

      Keep in mind, humanity has been to the moon. And we rarely get caught in nets. Don’t try to contradict me by pointing out that humans have wars and “know hate”. I’m not saying humans are infallible. But in terms of intelligence? It’s really stupid to think that because they’re super-friendly, compassionate, and have family lives, that they must also be as smart as us.

      • wylkyn says:

        Actually, it would seem that your definition of “intelligent” is fairly anthropocentric. I’m not saying that dolphins have human-like intelligence. I’m stating that setting human intelligence as some sort of standard to judge the worth of a species by is not a very intelligent thing to do. Given how little we understand how our own brain works, much less the brains of other species, it would certainly make sense to approach this topic with a bit of humility.

        We talk about voyaging through space and meeting other intelligent life forms, but we’re not even close to fully understanding the life forms in our own backyard. If we landed on an extrasolar planet, odds are we would slaughter any so-called “intelligent” alien life form without even knowing what we were doing. Hey, that smelly alien fungus you’ve been clearing with fungicide? Yeah, that’s the greeting party. They have been confused why you haven’t been responding to their spores.

        On that note, if recent displays of dolphin and primate intelligence haven’t impressed you as noteworthy, you may have some sort of bias you need to work through.

        • knodi says:

          See, this is what’s so irritating about you self-hating humans. You assume that I think ONLY humans are intelligent. I don’t! Obviously dolphins and the hairier primates have well-developed brains.

          I’m just saying, come up with any intelligence test that’s not just a measure of ability to hold your breath or guzzle fish, and you’ll find that humans can beat dolphins.

          They’re AWESOME. We’re BETTER AT BEING SMART. They’re BETTER AT SWIMMING. We are capable of spending long periods of time in any environment we want- hot, cold, wet, airless, deep underground…. Dolphins actually beach themselves.

          You need to come to terms with the fact that different species excel at different things. You can redefine intelligence to mean whatever you want, but if you’re speaking ENGLISH, as most people understand the word, humans are smarter than dolphins.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            No no…we’re just better at speaking human.
            Your argument leads me to think that we (that is, all species) should try to work together to advance a mutually advantageous agenda: with each doing something that the other species are not so good at…oh wait…that’s a healthy eco-system that I’m describing…well, carry on, then.

          • wylkyn says:

            Wow. That’s quite an emotional reaction to a pretty simple idea – that our understanding of thought and intellect is self-limiting. It’s not hating on humans. It is pointing out the obvious possibility – that there could be intelligence so different from our own as to be incomprehensible to us. Rather like the concept of dimensions beyond the 3rd. You can create a visual representation of a hypercube, but it is still limited by our ability to convey the information in the dimensions we can understand. In a similar fashion, we tend to dismiss what is different as substandard. That is a mistake, in my opinion.

            Also, you seem to be confusing intelligence with knowledge, scientific advancement, and wisdom or understanding. There is no evidence to suggest that human intelligence has changed much over the past hundreds of thousands of years. We have improved education and scientific knowledge has advanced tremendously. But intelligence? If you met a man from, say, 10,000 years ago, you might assume you are more intelligent than he is based on his primitive beliefs and fears, his ability to deal with the world around him, and so on. He might score quite poorly on our IQ tests. But that wouldn’t prove that you are more intelligent than he. And that is another human. How vast a difference must there be between different species?

            Don’t mistake this as any sort of value judgment on the intelligence of any species. I’m not challenging your intelligence or that of humanity, or trying to claim that dolphins are equal or superior. I’m saying that we tend to judge such things and attach value to them based on our limited understanding. That’s it. Sorry if that opinion upsets you. Again, your emotional response would seem to indicate some sort of personal bias that is interfering with your understanding of my point. If you can only reduce what I’m saying to “dolphins rule! people suck!” then you fail to understand at all. Dolphins may be complete idiotic dicks, for all I know.

      • Hools Verne says:

        Nah, but the ability to translate directions from sign language into an underwater click track and relay that information to another dolphin points to a great deal of intelligence.

      • Anonymous says:

        Besides, dolphins pretty clearly know hate, too. They’re actually really mean, just not generally to humans.

    • Anonymous says:

      What do we do? First we apologize to them for our previous ill treatment and lack of respect, and then we give them whatever they want.
      All in all I think we will make much better pets than we have masters anyway.

    • Brainspore says:

      Dolphins have highly sophisticated brains but “intelligence” is a tricky one since there is no single objective measure of intelligence even among humans. Dolphin minds may be so alien to our own that we never really understand each other, language computer or no.

    • Anonymous says:

      Interesting, JS. The answer to your question, morally and legally speaking, must be that we respect the civil rights of any sentient “person,” whether or not they happen to be a member of our particular taxonomic branch.

      Now, does that mean that other species must be *as* intelligent as us before we respect their rights? Is it a sliding scale? I’ll think about it while I cook my spaghetti bolognese…

  15. fbrusca says:

    Is the dolphin really making selections, or is the trainer moving the iPad around so that the beasty selects the ‘correct’ shortcut? Ouija board phenomenon. Let’s bolt that sucker down and see what happens. Let’s get James Randy out here to supervise.

  16. Lukezor says:

    Sigh, now Cory is going to have to write an article in dolphin-speak pointing out the negative connations of using an iPad.

    Also: to the best of our knowledge, humans are the most intelligent, possibly only intelligent, life-form in the universe. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for us to claim dominance on Earth.

    • Anonymous says:

      starting your statement with ‘to the best of our knowledge’ completely undermines the entire thing.

      what if ‘the best of our knowledge’ doesn’t mean shit in the grand scheme of things?

    • grimc says:

      Carl Sagan once said something like, “The universe is a big place–it’s arrogant to think we’re the only intelligent species in it.”

  17. Anonymous says:

    a site where dolphin actually communes/communicates with humans..enjoy!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Dolphins are gonna take over the world and become the new god.

  19. millrick says:

    “dolphin-friendly programs are essential”

    i have trouble enough creating stuff for humans.
    now dolphins too?
    what’s next?

  20. Slurpy says:

    So. . . are iPads oil-proof?

  21. doombilly says:

    Did it nose-type something to the effect of “Man, F*ck BP”?

  22. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like the kinda James Randy should debunk. A bit like that coma guy a few months ago being led to answers anyway I love Dolphins and I like apple hardware so this story hits two of my boxes if only there had been breasts.

  23. Anonymous says:

    e e ee eee ee eee e ee e.

  24. knowles says:

    just because your boss lets you grow a beard of neglect doesn’t mean you ever should.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Excellent stuff. If only it wasn’t in captivity it would be perfect!

  26. MrJM says:

    “Dolphin uses iPad as way to communicate trendiness and herd mentality”

  27. Anonymous says:

    Fa Love Pa.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I am surprised it took this long to do! I recently saw a crow on Animal Planet that was using a computer screen. Why so long? Is water so difficult to work around? Of course dolphins rate high but to call them “sentient” (intelligence on the scale of human) is presumptuous. The definitions are difficult but not building or even destroying could be a clue. Even chimps have wars, so it is not only for the “top”. Just start communicating before you put on labels, we are babies in this area. I once read that saying the sign language in chimps was not really language. So what about deaf humans? We are so jealous of our status we rush to make pronouncements. It is what it is, just get on with it!

  29. Eric Hunting says:

    I have long dreamed of developing a sophisticated interspecies linguistics system then linking it to a series of mid-ocean audial interface terminals for the singular purpose of allowing adolescent dolphins to phone smoke shops in the UK and ask for Prince Albert in a can.

    Software for cephalopods sounds like a great idea too. I’m particularly fond of cuttlefish because they combine the best qualities of a cat and a zeppelin.

  30. Bottlekid says:

    Dolphins are far too intelligent to commit to an AT&T contract.

  31. Daemon says:

    Dolphin communication app banned in 3… 2… 1…

  32. Razzabeth says:


  33. Felton says:

    Bender: Who wants dolphin?
    Leela: Dolphin? But dolphins are intelligent.
    Bender: Not this one. He blew all his money on instant lottery tickets.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Poor dolphins.

  35. caitifty says:

    I can’t believe I’m the first to say this, but: I’m glad someone finally found a real use for an ipad..

  36. Chris Tucker says:

    It’s spelled Randi.

    Thank you for your kind attention!

  37. Felton says:

    How long before iTunes has a “Dolphin Playlist” section?

  38. Cranefly says:

    We are capable of spending long periods of time in any environment we want- hot, cold, wet, airless, deep underground…. Dolphins actually beach themselves.

    If this is supposed to be some kind of indication of the intelligence of dolphins as a whole and not the beached ones specifically, you might want to read up at and get back to us about humans.

    if you’re speaking ENGLISH, as most people understand the word, humans are smarter than dolphins.

    On the other hand, if you’re speaking DOLPHIN, as most Odontoceti understand the word…

  39. lesbianjesus says:

    Why could they have not used any of the previous quite adequate tablets ?

    • dculberson says:

      Maybe they weren’t so “quite adequate” as you think? If they had been adequate, the researchers would have been using them.

  40. Anonymous says:…now we also have to warn our kids that they might be chatting with…fish

  41. greenglyph says:

    This has exciting implications.

    The best touchscreen implementation for dolphins probably be some version of Jefferson Han’s FTIR technology ( ), using the surface of the acrylic dolphin tank. They’d get a much larger surface to work with, and still retain multi-touch capabilities.

  42. greenglyph says:

    (re:66) …would…probably be.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Its a great feeling thet this experiment took place in mexico….with the most amazing animal (for me) that gets so close to us in many different ways…i would like to learn more about this. What did the dolphin answer from? can he be able to detect deiferences in colors…ar animation??

    Thanks! great to hear from this kind of technological advances thata are share with this great amazing specie.


  44. Anonymous says:

    How much does it have to suck to request a fish and hit the wrong button and have someone ride on your back instead? Bet he wishes he had fingers…poor dolphin.

  45. querent says:

    john lilly was a fanboy!

  46. Anonymous says:

    the dolphins have, um, spoken!(?) yup, i gave mr kassewitz a call and it looks like the toughbook is the portacomputer of choice when it comes to cross-species chatting in the ocean. he named six reasons why he preferred the toughbook:

  47. billstewart says:

    Be careful with dolphins and computers (cats and raccoons have similar risks.) If he sees your credit card number, you’ll start finding shipments of fish showing up on your doorstep that you didn’t remember ordering…

  48. st vincent says:

    “So long, and no thanks for the lack of flash… I mean, thanks for all the fish.”

  49. Michael Leddy says:

    Just to clarify — Jack Kassewitz sent me the press release after seeing my post about the Onion piece on dolphins and tablet devices.

  50. Anonymous says:

    Douglas Adams was right!

  51. Eris Siva says:

    I, for one, welcome our new aquatic overlords.

  52. robulus says:

    we’ll need fast technology to help us respond appropriately and quickly to the dolphins.

    I for one welcome our new dolphin overlords.

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