Peter Gabriel clearly has a thing for primates. He scored his first Top 40 hit in the US in 1982 with “Shock The Monkey,” he taught apes to play keyboards at a research center in Atlanta back in 2001, and he’s spent the past several years working on something called the Interspecies Internet project along with a group of academics and researchers including internet pioneer Vint Cerf, MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld, and cognitive psychologist Diana Reiss. According to The Sunday Times, “Gabriel is convinced that people could communicate with animals if only we could find a shared medium of expression,” and it seems that he thinks that that shared medium of expression might in fact be Skype.
As The Sunday Times reports, the former Genesis frontman is planning to run an experiment at the Monkey World chimpanzee rescue center in Dorset, England next year to see if chimps can learn to communicate with each other using videoconferencing equipment. “The idea is to extend a big video network that already exists in labs at Massachusetts Institute Of Technology so that different species including our own have a chance to communicate,” Gabriel says. “I am absolutely certain the monkeys will use the video cameras in Monkey World to communicate with each other. I am also interested in how they would use the internet to communicate.”
Although the planning is still in the early stages, if the experiment is successful, Gabriel will be one step closer to his apparent dream of writing a rock opera with a bunch of apes. (That’s what I’m inferring from all this, anyway.)