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Culture & Religion

Using Machine Intelligence to Democratize Translation

A new tech start up wants to use a mobile app to create a worldwide network for real-time language translation. Its creators say the system is the next-best thing to the singularity. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Using a new Web and smartphone app, the tech start up Bableverse wants to enable real-time translation of all the world’s languages. The app was used in Japan during the tsunami crisis to allow English-speaking journalists to help uni-lingual locals cope with the disaster. The company’s software draws on the resources of professional translators to evaluate the quality of citizen “trainees”,  promoting them to “experienced interpreters” once their skills have reached a sufficient level. Compensation levels, determined by the company on a per-minute basis, are relative to the standard of living where the translator is located. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Real time translation of all the world’s languages would bring humanity into an exciting era of instant and accurate cross-cultural communication. While English is often billed as the global language, a more basic and limited form (referred to as “globish”) prevents many fellow-travelers from expressing emotion and context. Bableverse creators quote a Google translation executive saying that machine translation cannot be improved upon until we reach the singularity, a point where the physical distinction between man and machine is erased. Until then, combining machine intelligence with human nuance will prove the next best thing. 

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