John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Here’s Hoping Google “Speech-to-Speech” Translation Not as Hilariously Inaccurate as Google Voice Translation

Google has built up quite a business scanning the written word for contextual advertising opportunities. Now it hopes to do the same for the spoken word as well. The company is reportedly developing a real-time translation technology for our phones.

“We think speech-to-speech translation should be possible and work reasonably well in a few years’ time,” Franz Och, Google’s (GOOG) head of translation services, told the New York Times. “Clearly, for it to work smoothly, you need a combination of high-accuracy machine translation and high-accuracy voice recognition, and that’s what we’re working on.”

A worthy goal, and admirable too, since such a technology, were it to work well, would really herald an end to language barriers. That said, given the hilarious inaccuracy of Google Voice’s visual voicemail transcriptions, I’d say a truly usable speech-to-speech translation service is quite a bit further off than Och claims.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work