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Chapter 11: The Dolphin Conference
[©2002 by Bobby Matherne]
To allow Dr. Mornay a break, the ICN interviewer directed its next question to Athol Kiley, ISC's Chief Researcher.
"Dr. Kiley, when did the ISC Project Team first record a spizualization from your dolphins?"
"It started quite unexpectedly one day when our two key dolphin informants returned to our Marine Research Lab on Marsh Harbor Island in the Bahamas. Our key researchers, Jane Fryle and Fred Mashburn, were in the control booth when it happened. Here's what they told me."
As Demeter approached the point of land jutting into the water Nimrod was busy several hundred yards away in the Back Propagation Tank (BPT) at the Inter-Species Communication (ISC) Laboratory. In our Marsh Harbor location in the Abacos Islands the ISC team was beginning to train its neural network to see dolphin speech. The SPIZZNET, as the software network was called, was able to resolve beach balls and other equal size objects. With each training session, our researchers began to see finer and finer detail as they tuned SPIZZNET by adjusting the parameters of the back-propagation network. Dr. Mornay likes to tell his audiences, "Back-propagation is just like saying 'yes' or 'no' to a human baby as it touches something. Soon it learns what it can touch or not touch without being told."
The software for our phizualization network, PHIZZNET, was essentially complete; it produced high quality pictures in color. The ISC Project had trademarked the names SPIZZNET and PHIZZNET and had already begun marketing the PHIZZNET equipment to hospitals for diagnosis. With it doctors could see hearts beating in real-time in full-color 3-D pictures with 70MM movie quality.
In ISC's promotional video Dr. Mornay explained, "With the eyephones in place over his eyes, the surgeon can travel inside a beating human heart and inspect the valves as they flap and the chamber walls as they pulsate. By means of the PHIZZNET and virtual reality technology, the dream of the science fiction movie, Fantastic Voyage, has been realized.
Travel through the human body in miniature to perform a detailed inspection prior to and during surgery is now a reality. The PHIZZNET equipment will be the CAT Scan of the new century. Every fully equipped hospital will require one."
Nimrod leaped out of the water unexpectedly, causing our SPIZZNET team on duty to jump up from their control panels to see what was wrong. Suddenly the image on the SPIZZNET screen changed from one blurry dolphin shape and a round ball to two dolphin shapes jumping out of the pool. Puzzled by this strange turn of events, they began inspecting their equipment for some unknown influence or failure. Before they could reboot the file server system, Fred, the team leader, pointed out to the open water, "Look, it's Demeter! She's back!"
The SPIZZNET monitor changed and now it showed several dolphin shapes. "Look," Jack said, "maybe more dolphins are coming. Radio the tower lookout." No, the tower radioed back, they hadn't seen any sign of other dolphins approaching other than Demeter. In fact, they asked how the team could have known about Demeter since they had just that instant opened the gate for her to enter.
"Later," Fred told them, "we'll tell you all about it later," he said, as he turned back to his instruments searching for an explanation for the new dolphin shapes. Seconds later Demeter entered the research pool via the underwater entrance. She and Nimrod huddled at the bottom of the pool for several minutes. The monitors showed dolphin images all around the pool.
"They're leaving!" Janie cried. Fred and Jack looked up into the pool in time to see Nimrod and Demeter in their signature goodbye leap into the air. Janie called the control tower operator to have her quickly open the underwater gates so that the two dolphins could leave and to allow the back-up training dolphin Alpha to enter. As soon as Nimrod and Demeter had finished their goodbye wave and left the tank, Alpha bounded into the tank ready to start.
One of the design constraints of the ISC project was to allow dolphins the freedom to come and go as they pleased. The remote control gates were there solely to keep out predators, not to keep the dolphins in. In fact, the team expected that the SPIZZNET equipment would soon be ready to permit the dolphins to directly control the gates for entering and leaving.
For over two years whenever one of the dolphins left the project training tank to return to the sea, a replacement dolphin showed up to take its place. The ISC loved the variety because with each new dolphin, the training of SPIZZNET became more refined, more robust. The Back-Propagation Network was tuning out the idiosyncrasies of the individual dolphins.
With Alpha in place they continued the training right where they had left off with Nimrod. They had learned from experience that the replacement dolphin would not only show up immediately after the other one left, but that the new one had apparently been briefed on the status of the training. Fred made a note of the two dozen dolphin shapes that had appeared on the screen and went on with his training regimen.
Later that night we asked Dr. Mornay about the phenomenon. He told us, "I believe Nimrod was telling us that he and Demeter were heading for a dolphin conference.
"He first gave us a spizz" — project team jargon for a spizualized picture — of him and Demeter, then a spizz of the dolphin conference they were heading for.
"Someday when we can get as clear pictures from SPIZZNET as we now get from PHIZZNET, we'll be able to see exactly what Nimrod is saying to Demeter as she nears the tank. This time we were fortunate to be able to see the suggestion that Demeter made to Nimrod to head for the dolphin conference."
From a later interview we taped with Demeter we were able to piece together this report of what happened at the dolphin conference.
Nimrod and Demeter reached the conference area and were chatting with some of the other early arrivals. When everyone was in place, Nimrod called the meeting to order. This was a signal for all the individual low volume spizualizations to cease so that all participants could listen to their fellow dolphin and leader, Nimrod.
"Demeter has a report on her experiments at our Marathon, Florida location. Demeter..." Nimrod announced Demeter by spizzing a beautiful woman sowing seed in a field, her signature spizz. It never failed to inspire awe in all viewers.
"I have been working at the Dolphin Research Center, as our human friends call it, for several years," Demeter began. "I wish to report on two major achievements since our last conference. The first involves contact with pregnant human females.
"Last week a female got in the tank with me and I got all excited as I saw her four month old baby in her belly. Apparently the female did not know that she was pregnant, so I got even more agitated trying to get the human informants I'd been working with to notice. Finally they guessed what I was excited about and suggested to the female that she might be pregnant. The female got out of the water very distraught and left.
"When she returned the next day, she was all smiles and my informants showered me with the squid treats they reserve for special occasions. Unfortunately for us, the informants attributed my knowledge of her pregnancy to some extra-sensory perception rather than a simple visualization of the inside of her womb. The baby was a little girl by the way. I wish I could have told her that. Maybe one day soon.
"The next major event was the culmination of several months of concentrated dream work. Nimrod and I had postulated that human children with the disorder known as Down's Syndrome would make excellent informants if we could get them into the tank. What took the longest was getting their parents to bring one of them to the tank. Nimrod will explain what happened."
Seamlessly Nimrod continued the story, "We tried a three-prong approach: We planted dreams in our tank informants, in selected parents of these children, and in the children themselves. Finally a little six year old boy named Peter was brought into the tank with me. I fed him images of trust and security as the came into the tank. One note here: Normal human children have forgotten how to do waking dreams by the age six or so, but these special children live in a perpetual dream world.
"I gave him a picture of himself grabbing onto my dorsal fin and swimming around the pool. He chortled with excitement when I fed him the dream picture and began reaching for me with both his hands as I swam over to him. He grabbed onto my fin and I zoomed around the lagoon. He began to make loud grunt noises like humans make when they're excited. I didn't think much of it till I inspected my tank informants thoughts and found out that Peter had just said his name for the first time ever.
"Following that episode, parents from all over began calling for appointments and many other special children have had similar peak experiences in the pool. We are gaining a wealth of information that will speed our inter-species communication project."
As the interview ended, the word reached the control booth that the dolphins were ready to speak again.
[End of Dolphin Conference, Chapter 11. To Read Next Chapter Click Book Jacket at Right:]
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