KML_FLASHEMBED_PROCESS_SCRIPT_CALLS

Archive: Science & Tech

April 1st, 2014 | By Contributing Writer | Posted in Art & Society, Science & Tech | Comments Off

The Future Needs Translation

Man-vs-machine

Image source: http://isragarcia.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Man-vs-machine.jpg

In order to reach 98% of the world’s online users, businesses today must translate their content into 48 different languages. Supplying content in English limits them to about a third of the world’s consumer base, cutting them off from a $50 trillion market located mostly outside the United States.

The resulting, ever increasing demand for translation is driving a variety of changes in the translation market. Machine translation technology has reached the point where it is widely usable by the average user, but the difference between it and a professional translation is still acutely visible. Where will translation go in the next few years? Will machines take over? Here are a few predictions.

1. Machine translation will grow, but it will not supplant human translators

Machine translation is not capable of reaching the same accuracy or fluency as a human. Every person who speaks a language can add new words to the vocabulary, give new meaning to existing words, change the grammar, or tweak the spelling. One need only look at online chat, Twitter, political revolutions, or popular songs for example.

Computers will never be able to keep up with all these evolving changes. However, improvements in machine translation have already brought it to the point where forgiving users find it convenient and often a necessity. The approximately 250,000 translators worldwide simply cannot keep up with the ever-growing demand for translations between the world’s 6,000+ languages.

Therefore, improved machine translation engines will combine with increased demand — and increased tolerance for mediocre but instantaneous translations — to cement machine translation output in modern society.

2. Human translation will become increasingly valuable

The imperfection of everyday machine translation will increase recognition of the benefits that quality human translation offers. More people will recognize that text can be translated in multiple ways, and translation buyers will start understanding the importance of high-quality human translation in order to effectively sell their products or appeal to specific foreign buyers.

3. Translation will become increasingly integrated into a company’s workflow 

Each additional language which a company offers multiplies the amount of content in their workflow. Companies will be all but forced to integrate translation into the process of producing content for their business, so that they are able to translate, edit, review, and synchronize all localized versions of their content in an efficient manner.

This may take the form of expanded feature sets in content management systems (CMS) or additional specialized packages, but it will be increasingly apparent that treating translation and localization as an afterthought is impractical.

4. Human translators will take on broader roles

Already, translators who choose to use computer-aided techniques in their work are personalizing machine translation engines to their specific specialties and developing custom translation memory tools to suit their needs.

With the increasing demand for machine translation — particularly in situations where human translation is not practical or necessary — translators will find themselves working to improve different machine translation engines to specific tasks.

In the situations where machines cannot do the job, translators may drift away from the original concept of simply translating text and become localizers or ‘trans-creators’, in charge of translating the more abstract concepts behind a brand into a local market and creating content to suit. Similarly, translators are already doing business-critical work like checking product names to ensure they have the correct meaning across many cultures, and ensure there are no language traps which will appear on launch.

Conclusion

Online translation has already come very far since its inception. As well as the ubiquitous machine translation services, businesses can now obtain quality human translations on a near-automatic basis. Translation services with APIs allow the translation process to be integrated into existing software packages for efficient localization, and that is simply a start. Translation is becoming an ever more important aspect of business online for all kinds of businesses, and the industry is adapting quickly to this new role.

Continue Reading & Comment »

February 27th, 2014 | By Contributing Writer | Posted in Art & Society, Business & Economy, Innovation, Media, Science & Tech | Comments Off

Google Search’s Amit Singhal – Constructing the Conversational Computer

The Galactic Public Archives are videos that feature past and present visionaries on their explorations of the future and how it could be embraced with optimism.

Introduction to Amit Singhal (at Google) from Galactic Public Archives on Vimeo.

Meet Amit Singhal. During Amit Singhal’s 13 years at Google, the company has been evolving the iconic search bar into a voice-controlled search engine that allows for a more natural, conversational search – à la Star Trek’s LCARS computer. They aren’t there yet. If you ask Google – using voice – who Bill Clinton is, and then ask who his (using the pronoun instead of his name) daughter is – Google can tell you. You can even follow that up by asking what her job is, and again, Google understands. If however, you follow up your question about Bill Clinton with, “Who was the next president?” Google is stumped. Its ability to hold context means that it can only hold a conversation as long as you stick within some narrow parameters. Clearly search has not reached Her status – as envisioned by Spike Jonze. Most people are not in danger of mistaking Google for a love interest. Still, the system’s current competence is quite a feat considering it happens to be ‘conversing’ and interfacing with millions of people at once.

Amit Singhal, however, believes that the current situation is just a stepping-stone, and that natural, ‘frictionless’ conversation with a computer is an attainable goal.

We interviewed Amit Singhal at Google HQ in 2013. He’s a personable guy with a positive outlook on the future, as well as a staunch belief that information science & search can allow humanity to be, essentially, more human.

Amit Singhal (at Google): Constructing the Conversational Computer from Galactic Public Archives on Vimeo.

During our conversation Amit said that the challenge is finding the missing “intelligent connections” that humans can make and computers can’t – the missing links between today’s search and a true conversational machine. Amit and his team are working on algorithms to allow computers to build those connections.

These videos, and others in the Galactic Public Archives are compiled from our conversations with inventors, scientists, visionaries and thinkers who have compelling visions of the future, in conjunction with 2030, an upcoming film about the future. Discover more GPA videos at Vimeo.com/GalacticPublicArchives.

*Guest Author: Ellen Boss at The Galactic Public Archives

2030

 

 

Continue Reading & Comment »

January 16th, 2014 | By Mallory Smith | Posted in Art & Society, Science & Tech | Comments Off

The Quantified Self is Here and It’s Going Mainstream

quantified self

In case you missed it, Glen was recently interviewed by James Temple at Re/code. The result is an exciting article called Robots, Regenerative Medicine and More: Futurists Gaze Into 2014. In it, Glen mentions the coming year seeing the true mainstreaming of the ‘quantified self.’ He also talks about other things you want to know about, so be sure to read Re/code right now!

Continue Reading & Comment »

December 31st, 2013 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Art & Society, Environment & Energy, Innovation, Science & Tech | 1 Comment

To 2014 and Beyond

Happy New Year to all our Futurist.com visitors and fans.

Looking ahead, here are some thoughts to add to the endless lists of 2014 anticipations – if you like these things see Mark Anderson’s top ten for 2014, or Thomas Fry’s 33 for 2030, or David Brin’s speculations on the year ahead. Brin is an exception but most of these kinds of articles are lists of technologies and anticipated developments. I know these lists ‘sell papers’ as we used to say, and provide a certain kind of infotainment. But I don’t take them too seriously except as brain teasers. Check them out if you want.

Me? I expect the big stories of 2014 will include…

…a shift in politics to debating how and how much to increase Social Security in the United States. This meme broke through in 2013, and moved the Overton Window over by a surprising margin, away from “how to cut Social Security” and at least to ‘how to maintain it.” This shift in the political winds cannot come too soon as we face an impending retirement crisis and looming wave of elder poverty.

…a dawning realization that fracking, however successful in the next decade or two at tapping previously hard to get oil and gas, has not fundamentally changed the longer term (21st Century) energy picture in which conventional (and thus cheaper) oil has peaked, and thus we face a mostly more expensive future in energy. Cheap gas is the exception but the energy picture still demands that civilization prepare for the fossil fuel phase out to come. Negotiating this passage will literally determine whether modern civilization is maintained.

…a continuation in the downward curve in solar energy cost per watt generated, meaning that it becomes more likely that solar will become a dominant supplier of electricity sooner than later. The electrification of the transportation fleet will gain momentum in 2014.

…space exploration and exploitation will proceed more aggressively in 2014. The success of China on the moon, and the amazing drive of SpaceX and other private companies in space will make the next half-decade a likely dawn of the next era in space, the era that leads to truly occupying space.

…it is hard to know when or if a weather event will tip the balance of public concern toward a crash effort to mitigate, slow down, and prepare for global warming. The latest, and most dire, predictions suggest that this had better happen soon.

Photo Credit: Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance and Mother Jones

Photo Credit: Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance and Mother Jones

…finally, a global struggle with and about the deep issues of privacy versus security, continued drift to richer and poorer society, and the future of employment and work, will likely heighten in 2014. There is a reason, which is more than artistic or admiration of the actors, that the Hunger Games series has already placed its first two films in the top 20 grossing films of all time and is a world-wide phenomenon. There is a hunger for change that is rumbling. The fact that life imitates art in way that reeks of parody but is all too real just adds to the pressure. (In this case activists hanging a banner to protest a proposed pipeline were charged under an absurd terrorism statute – thus precisely proving the point of the banner.)

2014 will be a year of great opportunity and great challenges – not all that different than 2013 or, I suspect, 2015.

Let’s have a great year!

Continue Reading & Comment »

November 15th, 2013 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Art & Society, Business & Economy, Science & Tech | Comments Off

The future of Work and BYOD and BYOM

[Last month I had the opportunity to help with the creation of a video for Cisco, in which Cisco futurist David Evans, futurist Stowe Boyd, and I talked about the future of the workplace as the availability of personal communication devices becomes more pervasive, their power greater, and their use more natural and integrated into every day life. The recent workplace phenomenon of a desire to "bring your own device" is a key indicator of this trend. At the same time that I was shooting that video (we hope to post it before too long from now), I was producing a guest blog for Cornerstone OnDemand, the human resources support company, commenting on their recent study on the future of the workplace and the workforce. Here is the blog I wrote for them, re-posted here by permission, which captures some observations where BYOD is going in the future.]

BYOD, BYOM, and the future of work
The other day I was with a team from a large multinational company. The team was preparing a presentation for the executive committee, and one of the team members proposed using a presentation tool he liked and was good with. But the other team members pointed out that the tool was an online application, and not formally approved by IT, and so it would be unwise to use it for the executive briefing.

This incident is something seemingly normal that occurs every day in the workplace – yet it is the perfect example of employees’ desires to bring their own device (BYOD), bring their own applications (BYOA) and bring their own tech (BYOT) to work to help with their productivity. The willingness of employees to do this was confirmed in the recent study of American workers conducted by Cornerstone OnDemand. The survey found that 37 percent of employees who currently use apps for work would be likely to spend their own money on work-related apps in the next twelve months if they felt the app would help them with their job. Even among employees who do not currently use apps for work, 20 percent expected to spend their own money for apps to increase their productivity.

In a world with thousands and thousands of apps available and new ones appearing each day, it is important for organizations to develop a policy on the use of apps and devices by individual employees. Generally, the advice is to make this policy one of openness to employee devices and apps. But the Cornerstone study reveals that many companies have yet to address this pressing issue.

When asked if their employers had policies on using applications for work purposes that are not provided by the employer, 43 percent said no, and 21 percent said they did not know.

When asked about company policies regarding the use of personal devices (smartphones, tablets and the like) for work purposes, 45 percent said their companies had no policies, and 15 percent said they did not know whether any policies were in place.

What kinds of applications are employees interested in? Here are the numbers:

ease-of-use

Now, an IT department could try to provide all of this, but they will never keep up with the flood of apps developed by entrepreneurs. So what is an IT department to do? I’d suggest that they begin the difficult process of redefining their role to providing a basic information access infrastructure, security standards and applications, and then, like the maestro of an orchestra, letting the individual artists show their stuff.

There are, in fact, companies who are allotting each employee a budget to buying technology and then not dictating what the specific tech should be. This is radical I know, but consider the dominant trends shaping the future of work.

BYOD + BYOA + BYOT = BYOM
Internet anthropologist and futurist Stowe Boyd, for example, suggests that first, every job is digital, second that every company is digital, and third that more and more functions can be performed by third parties. But the most important trend that Boyd cites is this: what is really happening with BYOD, BYOA and BYOT is that people want to bring their own mind to work. He calls it BYOM. Think about this. Our personal devices and the apps we favor have become a part of how we live, how we produce, how we think. Perhaps your essential app is one that keeps track of your travel, or tracks your exercise and diet in concert with your wristband, or enables you to conduct your banking anywhere, anytime. And this is not to mention the obvious apps that keep you in touch with your network and up to date, all the time. What the Cornerstone OnDemand study is saying, I believe, is that people want to bring not just their tech to work, but themselves.

On the Horizon
What is next? On the horizon and just coming into the marketplace are wearable devices. Google Glass is perhaps best known, as an example of augmented reality in which you wear a device that keeps you constantly imbedded in the virtual world even as you interact with the physical world. Joining Glass will be smartwatches that connect you to the Web, clothing, and, before long, smart jewelry and buttons that enable you to live in a world where the virtual and the physical are fully merged. The recent hiring of Burberry’s CEO by Apple is further demonstration of the intersection of fashion and tech. Why would you use such things? To see company information on demand, to access repair manuals, to connect to team members, to do things we do now with the devices we carry. The Cornerstone OnDemand study found that 66 percent of Millennial workers and 58 percent of all employees would use wearable technology if it enabled them to do their job better. If they saw a co-worker using wearable technology, 67 percent would feel curious and 12 percent would feel at a disadvantage.

I remember being at a conference this year of companies in a service-providing industry. A member of the Millennial generation gave a short presentation showing how he imagined their service professionals would use wearable technology in the near future, and he challenged the more traditional thinkers to open their minds to a new way of working. He was living proof of someone who wanted to BYOM to work. Smart companies will be moving in this direction.

Continue Reading & Comment »

Page 1 of 2312345...1020...Last »