New grants to catalyze research into AI and non-human communication


While scientists have been studying the behavior and communication of other species for decades, the use of AI to help accelerate these discoveries is relatively new. In partnership with FootPrint Coalition (FPC), Robert Downey Jr’s initiative to accelerate technologies for sustainable abundance, and the Experiment Foundation, ESP is thrilled to announce the launch of a new grant program designed to catalyze new and emerging research into interspecies communication. 

“Decoding non-human communication is a huge challenge. It will only be solved through cross-disciplinary collaboration across a wide range of fields, from machine learning to neuroscience, ethology and biology. We are very excited to be able to work with FootPrint Coalition to provide catalytic funding that will both inspire new research and deepen existing research, driving the whole field forward,” said Katie Zacarian, ESP CEO. 

ESP Senior AI Research Scientists Maddie Cusimano and Sara Keen are science leads for the grant program. Both are eager to fund projects that encourage foundational research, creative explorations, and conservation applications. 

These might include dataset design, collection and processing for AI, field studies of interspecies communication, or developing new AI methods to investigate non-human signals or to facilitate interaction between species. The  work could also extend to the simulation of the sensory experiences of non-human species, fostering a deeper understanding of their perceptions and interactions with their environment. Strict adherence to ethical protocols that ensure the welfare of all species involved will be required. 

"It's great to see a funding model that helps researchers get started on their project immediately, rather than typical grant cycles which move more slowly. Our hope is that the quick turnaround time for funding paired with the rapid pace of AI development will accelerate overall progress in studies of animal communication," said Sara Keen, ESP Senior Research Scientist, Behavioral Ecology and AI.

The projects will be listed and funded through, which uses crowdfunding campaigns to finance and  advance basic and applied research. 

Projects will be supported with up to $10,000 in fast-grant funding. If you’re a researcher with an interest in this field, and have an idea for work that you don’t yet have funds for, or need supplemental funding, check out the application page on today!

​​“The emerging field of AI for interspecies communication presents remarkable opportunities to reimagine our relationship with other species by providing insights into how they relate to each other – and to us,” said Rachel Kropa, FootPrint Coalition Managing Director.

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