October 08, 2006
Blog 4 - Computer Translators
As the world becomes more globalized and accessible to more people, language and communication barriers tend to stick out as a hindrance to further integration. Such barrier was fueled by America’s reliance on English as the “global” language, which failed to notice the importance of learning different languages. What’s the result? When Bush sends troops to Iraq, he needs to equip them with people who are fluent in Arabic and English. The problem? There aren’t that many Arabic interpreters who would serve the job. Ramifications? Law of Supply and Demand tells us that they are expensive. Solution? The United States Joint Forces Command teamed up with IBM to deliver MASTOR - Multilingual Automatic Speech-to-Speech Translator. Click on the following links to read further about this new technology
Essentially, this new laptop software, which has already been deployed to Iraq for testing, allows for easy communication between people of different tongues. Essentially, Soldiers will carry around laptops. The speaker will speak into the laptop, which will than translate and say aloud what is uttered by the speaker. The laptop will also translate the other party’s response into the holder’s language to allow for easy communication. This is all done by the use of ViaVoice technology, which recognizes words. In the event of an unclear response, choices will appear to help make the translation more clear and avoid confusion.
Lets get down to what this technology really means to the world:
- Security Concerns – You are looking at an example of a corporate-state relationship, where the state (i.e. U.S. army) allies with a corporation (i.e. IBM) to deliver security. While the program may not be completely fluent, it will serve as a non-bias interpreter. This eliminates trouble that can be derived from using native speakers, who may have an interest against the United States. This allows for efficient operations and missions via avoiding miscommunications.
- Cost-Efficiency – Arabic linguists are rare, and it’s even rarer to find ones that are good at what they do. If the age-tested Law of Supply and Demand holds, we should note that utilizing these scare resources will be a financial burden upon the United States.
- Technology Spillover – MASTOR could be a great asset to the military. But it could be used for other activities as well. Let’s enter in our good old buddy, Corporate America. MASTOR can allow for a more personal “touch” to meetings. It can allow for meetings to take place with people speaking their own native languages but allowing for everyone to understand without going through a translator. This will result in a more personal and friendly setting, and easily allow for dialogue to take place between different business parties. We do acknowledge that people who make living off of translating will be economically hurt by the rise of this technology. Yet, it will be a tremendous cost-reducing phenomenon for most businesses.
Mascot could further reduce cultural and language barriers, and unite people in a new way. It can take away the need for translators, allowing for a more intimate and personal discussion to take place. It can also help avoid miscommunication problems that can regularly occur in everyday life. Imagine that one day when you might be able to communicate with those servers at Pancharos! In essence, it has a potential to fundamentally alter the rate of global integration, where language has historically served as a major barrier.
Again, never underestimate the power of Information Technlogy!
Posted by willmoon at October 8, 2006 06:45 PM