Imagine a world where you’re speaking to a colleague from an international office in your language, and they’re hearing you in theirs.
Meta has pioneered an AI-based speech-to-speech translation process, giving people more opportunities to connect, in real-time, despite language barriers.
It’s the first speech-to-speech translation system powered by artificial intelligence (AI) for a primarily oral language, specifically used in parts of China.
Zuckerberg said: “We’re developing AI for real-time speech translation to break down language barriers in the physical world and in the metaverse. Our AI research can help break down language barriers in both the physical world and the metaverse to encourage connection and mutual understanding.”
With almost 3,500 living languages being spoken, that could be hugely impactful for global connection and engagement.
Meta is open sourcing its translation dataset in the language known as Hokkien, and its SpeechMatrix system. This includes a large collection of speech-to-speech translations developed through its natural language processing toolkit.
Because Hokkien is a lesser-used language, and largely spoken not written, it doesn’t have a wide corpus of text-based material available.
Meta says that this new process will alleviate the need for transcription output in translation.
“Meta AI built the first speech translator that works for languages that are primarily spoken rather than written. We’re open sourcing this so people can use it for more languages.
While the translation model is still a work in progress and can translate only one full sentence at a time, it’s a step toward a future where simultaneous translation between languages is possible.
The techniques we pioneered can be extended to many other written and unwritten languages.”
Into the metaverse
As part of its broader quest to ‘Connect the World’, Meta’s new AI-real time translator can be applied to its metaverse future, enabling broader interaction, on a global scale.
It hopes to facilitate a Star Trek-like metaverse experience, where anyone can speak their native language and still take part in the global conversation.
“The ability to communicate with anyone in any language — that’s a superpower people have dreamed of forever, and AI is going to deliver that within our lifetimes.”M. Zuckerberg
A new frontier
The potential for AI translation tools like these to expand opportunities for future business collaboration is huge. Opening up the world to broader connectivity will no doubt expand market reach. In turn, facilitating all-new potential within marketing communication and content creation.
It’s another exciting step towards a more diverse, more connected digital world.
And despite its infancy, anything that endeavours to bring together cultures in a way that’s never been possible before, is worth talking about – in whatever language you speak.
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