June 07, 2005
Perfect translation sooner rather than later

If the dog and pony show at the Google Factory tour is anything to go by, Google already have close to perfect universal translation in the lab. The lesson learned, for artificial intelligence, is that intelligence is just data. Once you have enough to do good pattern recognition the limits for what kinds of problem require uniquely clever algorithms and what problems just require high quality pattern matching algorithms becomes very, very fuzzy.
As a future user of such a technology all I can say is that perfect translation always available online will be much like seeing the world wide web for the first time all over again. The implications of having access to this in mobile devices is even more staggering. Imagine all of a sudden being able to travel everywhere with good cell coverage and actually understanding everything in any language. The idea that I could have this ability with a cameraphone in 5-10 years, and not in some distant Star Trek universe hundreds of years away, almost brings tears to my eyes.

I'm imagining a future where the poor math skills of modern day kids, who never had to add, let alone multiply, two numbers by hand will migrate to languages as well. Obviously, if the machine can translate for you, why would you bother to learn yourself. For Danes, all 5 million of us, this is a big deal. From a situation where pessimists can see nothing but a certain death of local Danish culture, we may soon face another scenario altogether with everybody happily sticking to their own language - without that handicapping anybody in any signinficant way.

Posted by Claus at June 07, 2005 04:09 PM | TrackBack (0)
Comments (post your own)

Fascinating. The Factory Tour webcast is indeed online at http://www.google.com/press/factorytour.html (select Alan Eustace to view the presentation by Franz Och).

Posted by: Nikolaj Nyholm on June 8, 2005 11:43 PM
Help the campaign to stomp out Warnock's Dilemma. Post a comment.

Email Address:


Type the characters you see in the picture above.

(note to spammers: Comments are audited as well. Your spam will never make it onto my weblog, no need to automate against this form)


Remember info?