The creation of the Internet was designed to turn the entire world into one global village. However, in modern days, perfect worldwide communication is still limited by language barriers. That could, one day, be a thing of the past, as Meta — formerly Facebook — announces plans for a universal speech translator.
Meta steals Star Trek's Universal Speech Translator
Reported by The Verge, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that the company is actively working on a Universal Speech Translator tool. Powered by artificial intelligence, the software aims to accurately translate every spoken language on Earth.
“The ability to communicate with anyone in any language — that’s a superpower people have dreamed of forever,” said CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “AI is going to deliver that within our lifetimes,” said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an online presentation.”
Currently, translation tools are only curated to the world’s most commonly used languages, such as English and Mandarin. However, there's a multitude of smaller, less-spoken languages that aren't well-covered by translation services, such as Welsh or Urdu.
In order to translate every language, Meta will make use of machine learning technology. With AI, the Universal Speech Translator will be able to translate speech in real-time without having to convert speech to text first.
“Eliminating language barriers would be profound, making it possible for billions of people to access information online in their native or preferred language,” Meta says. “[This ] won’t just help those people who don’t speak one of the languages that dominates the internet today; they’ll also fundamentally change the way people in the world connect and share ideas.”
A crucial tool for The Metaverse
Meta’s Universal Speech Translator will be integral tool for the company's Metaverse plans. The company notes that the technology will improve immersion in both its Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality products.
In the company's metaverse, players will be able to visit any world populated by users from anywhere in the world. If Meta's AI translation tools actually work as intended, these multi-region populations will be able to interact as if they're speaking the same language.
Additionally, Meta plans for the technology to work with AR glasses out in the real world. With the AR glasses, users will be able to look at a sign written in a language they don't understand and have it translated to them.
The Universal Speech Translator is an interesting tool, inspired by tools in Star Trek, or the TARDIS in Doctor Who. If it actually works, it would be a useful tool for everyone. Of course, that's if it does end up working.