Beta’s Eyes

November 23 2008 / by Adam Cutsinger
Category: Technology   Year: Beyond   Rating: 5 Hot

At some point in the not-so-distant future, somewhere on planet Earth…

Beta Bogdanovsky’s Italian Cācio-model translator spoke with a decidedly male monotone, and had the vocabulary, albeit in 13 languages, of a 3rd grader. Her dog’s translator was nearly as well spoken. Then again, Tóse was a smart dog, an Illyrian sheepdog whose eyes expressed more care than those of most people, and he almost certainly had the capacity to communicate on levels beyond the short sentences programmed into his collar.

“Iz vee NEH tuh,” she said in Bulgarian to a rotund bearded man blocking access to the window seat next to him. A roundish silver and gold box hung from a beaded chain around her neck, and a small bas-relief profile of the Roman god Mercury spoke the Greek, “Syghnomi.”

Excuse me.

The man’s posture shifted to make way even before he looked up, and when he did lift his head he was eye to eye with Tóse. Expressionlessly he made a symbolic attempt to scoot his plastic bags out of the aisle, and Beta sided into the seat, setting her gear on the floor between her feet. Tóse sat on his haunches in front of them both. Beta wondered why it was that people could not seem to rein it in in crowded public places and on trains.

As the ARMA Speed Tram pulled away from the passenger bay, the lights in the tramcar faded slightly as they always did between stations, and Beta closed her eyes and relaxed her neck, as she always did when she was commuting. Bitoli was five stops from the sea, as the tram tunneled through the Korab and Pindus Mountains, and then there were six more on the other side of the water before reaching Monopoli. This trip would be an opportunity to shut her eyes for approximately 2 hours, which was a very good thing, because Beta’s eyes were very tired.

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Scenario 2012: A Babelicious Reality

August 08 2008 / by AJ0111 / In association with Future
Category: Government   Year: 2020   Rating: 3

Global unification has not been welcomed in the past, biblically that is, but in the flattening world of today and tomorrow one language awaits us all: technology.

The biblical tower of Babel is a symbol of unity. Back when everyone spoke one language it was built “for the glory of man,” and not to worship God. Stretching to the heavens, the prosperous city showcased the collective power of mankind. Angered by the audacity, God then confused human language and scattered the builders all across the Earth.

Today, we are seeing bodies like the UN functioning as unifying global entities, coordinating between countries at a higher level. In fact, futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts there will be a World Government by 2020.

This globalization faces many obstacles, the most basic of which is language. The soultion? Kurzweil argues that by 2019 language translation will be widely used. In fact, it’s already been deployed by the U.S. military. Using a program IBM developed, troops in Iraq automatically get Arabic-to-English translations. IBM is also using a program for translating television broadcasts in Arabic and Chinese.

Director of the International Center for Advanced Communication Technologies Alex Waibel says this translation technology is a decade away from being used commercially. Electrodes attached to the mouth and throat can pick up words even when they are only mouthed.

Waibel argues, “In the future, we could implant the electrodes into your mouth and throat if you want and have your mouth become multilingual.”

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