DreamMachineHow Can You Laugh at a Time Like This? is a Dream Machine Site
The Dream Machine --- The Imagination of the World Wide Web

Home Current Column Previous Columns Other Sites Libertarian Feedback

Gypsy & Willy - The Original Libertarian Bloggers

How Can You Laugh at a Time Like This?

Gypsy & Willy

No. 439

Talking With One Another

July 21, 2008

The people of the world don't talk to one another enough. No, we're not referring to the leaders. They get together fairly regularly in splendid isolation in lavish palaces to discuss the world's problems and what they, presumed as they are to be the titans of world power, intend to do about them.

With them, language is no problem. Each has a small group of talented simultaneous translators to give them real-time interpretations of what the others are saying...all neatly spoken in their own native tongues. We, the people of the world, have no such luxury. The expense of having servants at your beck and call to make certain you always understand what others are saying is way beyond our limited resources.

Or is it?

In fact, the technology to do so exists and has been being developed steadily since the 1950's, impelled by the Cold War necessity at that time for us to understand what the Soviets were doing in all fields of endeavor. It's called machine translation and it isn't terribly good, resembling the children's game of "telephone" more than the product of the leaders' gifted translators. But, it is there and it is getting better every year.

With the World Wide Web, this technology is finally poised to become a reality for every man, woman and child on the planet. It is now possible for your Web browser to translate every page on the Web into YOUR language and do it in only a few seconds. Email could be instantly translated from the sender's language into the receiver's. with both users getting copies of both texts in each message....thus facilitating the learning of each other's languages. Chat room and text messaging software could translate every utterance into the desired language of every user.

So why isn't this done? The short answer is that other issues...the making of enormous sums of money being the main culprit...have dominated the revolutionary new medium, brushing aside all concerns for "minor" issues like international peace and justice. Nor are the leaders any more forthcoming. In so called "democratic" countries such as ours...they are all actually representative republics...not democracies...the shallowness of our election dialogues gives away the game. The leadership couldn't care less about all of us "getting along" with one another. Conflict, especially if it is "caused" by those "others" remains the main way for leaders, elected or not, to keep us under control.

Having said all that, one of the goals of Willy's enhancement of the Dream Machine Web sites in the past year has been to attempt to implement each of the "possible" technologies on our site, so as to provide a prototype to inspire others to do it as well. This was only partially successful. If you care to see the results of his work so far, go to our main home page at http://www.dreamagic.com/index.html and click the big red automatic translation button. You will be taken to a page which will allow you to translate our home page...and ALL SUCCESSIVE PAGES...into one of 27 other languages besides English. He utilized the free translation engines of BabelFish...a Yahoo! subsidiary...and Google to accomplish this. Of the two, Google provides the best translations and the easiest methodology for using their engine. But both have serious flaws. Furthermore, Willy has discovered that these sites use automatic translation as a come on for their pricey human translation services, neglecting some fairly obvious improvements that could readily be made. While both handle Unicode...the universal encoding of language which allows the reproduction of almost every alphabet in the world...is supported OK on Web pages, but has serious problems when the same techniques are attempted using other resources, such as email and chat.

You can see Willy's attempts at email translation at http://www.dreamagic.com/Google/test3.com. It works fine when only the most common Western languages...English, French, Spanish, etc....are used in both the source and target languages, but fails miserably when any "exotic" language is used...e.g. Chinese, Russian, Arabic, etc. This was part of a pitch, by Willy, to Google to fix all the flaws and bugs and implement what Willy could not. You can see the entire proposal at http://www.dreamagi.com/Google.

So, what is to be done? Well, if you think real-time translation is a good idea...and so far, everyone to whom we have broached the subject thinks it is...then it is up to you...and all the rest of us, to lobby that it be done. Our leaders will not make it happen...they really don't want us talking with one another all that much...so we must do it. Revolutionary? You betcha! It is yet another step...and may be the most important step...in facilitating the coming world revolution.

Talk to you later...

To contact Willy or Gypsy and comment on what they have written...or anything else...write to willy@dreamagic.com or gypsy@dreamagic.com.

Gypsy's Photo Gallery


...the best independent ISP in the Twin Cities

Back to the table of contents.