Looking beyond its existing business, Schmidt says “the next big thing” for Google could be online translation services. “I’ve always thought that the scariest piece of innovation is knowledge understanding and language translation,” he says.
“I don’t understand how it works, but to watch a computer – literally watch it – read something in English, dissect what it’s about, translate it into a language that I don’t speak and having that other person say, ‘Wow, that’s incredible,’ to me, that’s magic.
“And it isn’t magic, it’s just very good computer science, very good artificial intelligence, very good physics. And that’s where we are. So the things that are most impressive to me are the things where the computer does something that nobody could do, literally translate things 100 language in parallel, summarise something for me, take me to something which I didn’t know I was interested in but knows that I cared about it. And we’re right on the cusp of that.” To read more: Making money out of YouTube is Google’s “top priority”.
Can translation software ever take the place of human translators? In my opinion, no. Well, maybe for simple things. But to truly translate something well, you have to have an understanding of how the words are being used. Not just what words are being used. This is something you can only learn when you actively use a language.