Claire L. Evans and James Bridle for Grow, in conversation about intelligence in nature:

Evans: Your book concludes with this beautiful vision of the “internet of animals,” a planet-spanning network of sensors that can help us see the world as it really is. But given that you spend a lot of time talking about the dangerous ways in which data is centralized and deployed, can you speak a little bit about the governance of such a thing?

Bridle: It was a huge surprise to me that the internet of animals became the final example in the book, and I really stress that I don’t think it’s some grand, singular solution to everything. But it is a mechanism for doing some of the things that I say in the book are necessary, which include having a much broader, technologically-augmented view of life on Earth. The internet of animals gives us an idea of nonhuman lives with sufficient grain to shift our patterns of life to make more space for them. I also describe that as a form of suffrage, essentially — that what you’re essentially creating is a political system in which nonhumans have a say, have a voice. And so really, why I’m interested in the internet of animals is simply that it’s a way of giving them a voice that we can hear and listen to in ways that we haven’t been terribly good at so far. The ultimate aim always being to act on that voice

Karen Bakker for Noēma, on “planetary governance that incorporates nonhuman voices”:

The system incorporates four digital technologies: an underwater acoustic monitoring system that detects whale calls; AI algorithms that detect and identify blue, humpback or fin whales in near real time; oceanographic modeling combining satellite and digital buoy data with ocean circulation models and animal tags; whale sighting data reported by citizen scientists, mariners and whale-watchers using mobile apps; and locational data from ships’ automatic information systems (a mandatory global system of satellite tracking that enables precise monitoring of ships’ locations at all times).

The output: a whale presence rating overlaid on a map, similar to a weather report, which is relayed in near real time to ship captains, who can decide to slow down or leave the area altogether. The Whale Safe team also tracks ships to see if they are complying with slow-speed zones and publishes public report cards tracking compliance, naming and shaming ships that fail to comply.


[…] Perhaps the most novel aspect of these digital ocean governance schemes is their inclusion of nonhumans into decision-making. Simply by singing, a whale can turn aside a container ship: a digitally mediated decentering of the human.