We have an astounding 7.29 billion people populating our little blue planet at the moment, and while this means that we have pretty much developed to a point where no natural predators or disasters can truly threaten our society, it also means that we have to start developing into a global civilization. To achieve this, we must first work on improving communication across continents and nations. Skype has proven to be an excellent tool for connecting people from across the globe, allowing free sharing of information on a very personal level.
It is a very secure and reliable platform that has given many of us some unique opportunities in both our professional and our personal lives, but Skype is now coming out with some truly revolutionary tools. The new Skype Translator will allow direct translation between different languages. The idea is to allow two people to speak or type in their native language and have it automatically translated to the other person’s language.
Now, this isn’t just talk or a cool idea to look forward to – the Skype Translator preview will launch later this year and will only initially offer Spanish and English, with other options quickly following. You can register here to give it a shot, and become a part of the cultural renaissance. Skype will invite a limited amount of people to use this preview and help them put the polishing touches on their Skype Translator.
So, how does it work?
It is actually quite simple. Everything you say is translated into another language (currently only available between English and Spanish), and the person you are talking to hears everything in their own language, spoken by the characteristic computer generated voice. There is also a transcription of everything that is said, in both languages. You can also use this option for sending instant messages in over 40 different languages. The software used can actually learn to provide better translations through use, so with time we can expect some very accurate translating with minimal processing time.
The setup is quick and easy – you just chose your friend’s spoken and written language, and you can start chatting – and the Skype Translator has already been tested by schoolchildren form the US and Mexico, who have had a great time making friends and learning about another culture.
The implications of this technology and what we can expect in the future
With near instant translation at our disposal, and with advanced computer learning software that can pick up on subtleties related to meaning with extended use, it will be easier than ever for people from different cultures to exchange experiences, learn together and develop emotional connections. It will certainly make a huge impact on the business world, improving the communication between the business representative and an overseas client or between company branches form different parts of the world.
However, the most important benefit will be that we will be able to learn more about other cultures. As information on how people live across the world becomes more accessible, through firsthand accounts no less, we will develop a much more realistic picture on the state the world is in.
Not merely relying on news and mostly erroneous claims found on the internet, will help us open up to different cultures. While we can’t change human nature, and there will always be some bad people around, studies have shown that people growing up in racially diverse communities are much more comfortable dealing with people from different cultural backgrounds – which means that children growing up in a world where you can freely communicate face-to-face with other children from all over the globe will be able to work towards creating a true global civilization, where notions of racism and xenophobia won’t have much of an impact on society.
Of course, we will have to wait and see how this technology develops, but it is a very big step forward that can lead us to great things.