My weakest subject in school was always Spanish. Having gone to Chaminade High School on Long Island, I was required to take 4 years of a language. I dreaded it all four years. I can still feel the pain and being called on to read out loud in class and then totally butchering the pronunciation. My daughter Elizabeth is currently taking Spanish and continues to try and persuade her teachers that the Irish are not capable of rolling their “Rs” as required in the Spanish language. They are not buying it.
So you can image my joy (and Elizabeth’s) to the news that Microsoft is currently working on a machine that would translate a person’s native language into the language of the listener without any need for the speaker to adjust their native tongue: speech-to-speech language translation. The end of the Tower of Babal.
We hear of parents encouraging their child to study the Mandarin language to help them as they watch the growing Chinese economy. This machine would significantly reduce the need to learn multiple languages. The benefits to humanity are staggering. You can envision apps on your smart phone that can be downloaded to allow you to speak with anyone who speaks a different language. Try to imagine the great leap forward human progress will make as the language barrier ceases to exist. Great speeches like Martin Luther’s great speech for human rights could be heard “directly” without a person’s interpretation.
The language barrier is the last hurdle to further development of the world economies. An earlier post highlighted the amount of daily air flights connecting people from all seven continents. When this software is perfected, the last major hurdle will occur. I am sure that there will be a funny translation as we discovered when people began texting! What a future for us all and not just for the language impaired Irish like myself.
Below is the link to a nine minute video showing Microsoft’s Chief Research Officer Rick Rashind demonstrate a speech recognition breakthrough via machine translation that converts his spoken English into computer-generated Chinese language. Mimicking his own speech. What a future that we all have.
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