Friday, May 4, 2007

Language of the Future (1982)

The Kids' Whole Future Catalog, published in 1982, contains this illustration of future communication.

In the future, you won't have to learn a foreign language in order to talk to people from other countries. You'll just get out your electronic language translator. If you want to speak in Japanese, you'll just snap a tiny Japanese "memory capsule" into the machine. Then the machine will translate anything you say into that language. When you say "Hello" out will come "Konnichiwa" in perfect Japanese.

(Also, apparently in the future people will be cartoon caricatures of themselves.)

See also:
The Kids' Whole Future Catalog (1982)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 1, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 4, 1993)


Anonymous said...

It's not that far off:

adolfojrodriguez said...

If I'm not wrong this thing is soon to be created for milirary and inteligence using.

Anonymous said...

Machine translansltion between closely related languages (eg French English and German) is possible but only because the underlying similarities are sufficient that a computer can make reasonable guesses as to the proper substitutions to make without any real "understanding" of the text. Such programs were first developed from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s and work in essentially the same fashion now as they did then.

Attempting to apply the same technique to highly dissimilar languages such as English and Japanese usually results in a barely intelligible word-salad. Machine translation between unrelated languages is a ferociously difficult problem and is unlikely to be achieved with anything resembling any of the currently employed methods. It may not even be possible with anything short of fully human-equivalent AI.

SheriVan said...

However, single printed words can be translated by Google already, can't they? Of course, grammar and syntax complicate the issue. I'll have some raspberry vinaigrette with that word salad.!

Anonymous said...

Ahh yes, machine translation.

There's an old NSA joke about that.

Back in the early 1970s, the leaders of the USA and USSR decided it would be useful to have an instantaneous communications link for use in avoiding accidental nuclear war.

NSA was of course the agency brought in to develop the translation software. Their best linguists and engineers toiled away for months and finally came up with online English/Russian translation.

The equipment was installed at both ends of the circuit: printing teletype terminals connected to the translation system.

And finally came the unveiling of the system, with Generals and other high officials of each country at their respective terminals.

At the flip of a coin, it was decided that an American should start by entering the first words into the system. One of the NSA linguists stepped forward and typed:

"The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak."

This was instantly translated to Russian and appeared at the terminal at the other end. One of the Russian scientists stepped forward and typed that back into the terminal. Instantly it was translated to English and printed out at the American end of the circuit:

"The ghost is ready but the meat is raw."

Anonymous said...

More to the point, let us see what happens to the Japanese text from the illustration


when it is run through the miraculous machine translation systems of the year 2007.

AltaVista Babel Fish:
Good morning it is. Jones it is vigorous?

Good morning. Is it Mr./Ms. ジョーンズ vigor?

Good morning it is. Jones it is vigorous?

good morning

Google Translate:
Good morning it is. Jones it is vigorous?

Good morning. Is it Jones Mr. energy?