Meta plans to develop A.I. translator capable of translating 100s of languages

Now, that's a superpower!
Loukia Papadopoulos
CEO of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg.Wikimedia Commons

What if you could speak every language on Earth? You would travel around the globe with ease making new friends everywhere.

Meta now wants to give you that power, according to a new blog from the company published on Wednesday.

The firm is working on building an A.I.-focused universal instantaneous speech translator and it could forever change how we communicate.

A powerful translating A.I.

CEO of Meta Mark Zuckerberg announced this new development during an online event Wednesday. “The ability to communicate with anyone in any language — that’s a superpower people have dreamed of forever, and A.I. is going to deliver that in our lifetimes," he said.

“This is going to be especially important when people begin teleporting across virtual worlds and experiencing things with people from different backgrounds."

The new A.I. model is called “No Language Left Behind” and it is said to have the capacity to learn new languages with less training data than existing machine translation models. It can also translate speech directly to speech without first transcribing it.

Eliminating language barriers

The firm, however, did not outline a time frame for when its new product would be developed or a road map on how it plans to achieve such a lofty goal. Meta did state that its new innovation would have a significant impact around the world.

"Eliminating language barriers would be profound, making it possible for billions of people to access information online in their native or preferred languages," said Meta in its blog.

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"Advances in MT won’t just help those people who don’t speak one of the languages that dominate the internet today; they’ll also fundamentally change the way people in the world connect and share ideas."

The company further said that more than 20 percent of the world's population is not tackled in today's modern translation systems. It is these neglected populations and languages that Meta will seek to cater to.

However, all is not rosy. Meta will have to be very careful with its new tool as it is particularly difficult to moderate hate speech in a translation device. The company already failed to tackle misinformation in Myanmar prior to the Rohingya genocide.

As Meta goes forward with such big plans that could impact nations around the world it has to do so carefully and with due diligence. Still, it's an exciting development nonetheless.