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Meta is working on a universal translator

Is Meta really the company that should be building this?

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Image: Meta

Meta is working on a universal language translator for real-time communications. The translating AI is another piece of the puzzle for Meta’s vision of the metaverse.

Yes, that means Meta (formerly Facebook) is working on an AI version of the Babel fish from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Existing translation tools are great; if you speak one of the more common languages like Mandarin, Spanish, or English. That’s a big ‘if,’ however, and something that Meta wants to solve.

For the metaverse to work, translation needs to work for the 20-percent of the world’s population that speaks a language not supported by current tools. Meta says they are developing new machine learning in two areas to fix this issue.

First, “No Language Left Behind,” an AI model that needs “fewer examples to train from.” Secondly, a “Universal Speech Translator,” which will translate spoken speech in real-time without using a written component.

The ability to communicate with anyone in any language — that’s a superpower people have dreamed of forever, and AI is going to deliver that within our lifetimes,” says Mark Zuckerberg, Meta CEO

It’s certainly a lofty goal, and in line with their metaverse push. It’s not without its challenges though. Translating between any two written languages is hard enough. The translation process often strips out any nuance or increases bias.

READ MORE: Meta warns users to sign up for Facebook Protect or risk getting locked out

Let’s not forget that this is the company that can’t, or won’t, moderate its own existing Facebook platform in non-English speaking countries.

We’re not convinced that it can be trusted to translate anything accurately or fairly. A universal translator would be great for humanity, but we have doubts that Meta is the company that should be creating it.

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