Friday, October 28, 2005

Attack of the Cybermen

Two news items this morning have grabbed my attention. We are coming closer and closer to turning Earth into the Borg Planet.

First, from Japan, an amazing technological breakthrough shocked the crap out of a journalistic guinea pig for the Associated Press:

Prepare to be remotely controlled. I was. Just imagine being rendered the rough equivalent of a radio-controlled toy car.
For the details of this shocking experience, click here.

Closer to home, researchers at Carnegie-Mellon University are working with German scientists from the Universit√ɤt Karlsruhe on a very special communications project. As the professor in charge says:
"In the future, we could implant the electrodes into your mouth and throat if you want and have your mouth become multilingual," Waibel said.
He even has a lovely assistant working with him. With a cybernetic tongue, she could tell a guy to buzz off in any language. If she had cybernetic ears to go with it, a man would not be able to get away with making lewd remarks no matter what language he spoke. She'd understand everything. Guys, this is a bad thing. We would be completely unarmed in the war between the sexes.

But that's okay. Someday we will all be remotely controlled cyborgs with total human language comprehension. You, too, will be assimilated.


jipzeecab said...

You might remember that for a period earlier this year the internet explorer browser had a "right click" option which purportedly would translate whatever language was showing on the screen into English...I tried once to write a post about it.. "the universal translator".
Unfortunately the sample paragraghs I tried to use it even with French or Spanish were incomprehensible....Why..?..Because so much of language is tied up with culture and shared really have to "think" in a language to be fluent in it. So other than saying "I'll have the roast duck" useful utility phrases" I suspect it will be quite a while before people will understand each other with a computer bridging the conversation.

Nicko McDave said...

Ha ha! A few times I used Google translator to send emails in Italian to an Italian lady who worked with me. The translations were so poor that she complained that they gave her a headache.

"Universal translator"...reminds me of a Star Trek themed problem on a final exam for a "Study of the English Language" course that I took about 18 years ago. The test taker (i.e. me) was a linguist for Kirk and Spock, visiting a new culture whose language was completely alien to the universal translator. I was given basic instructions on how to pick up key phrases of what the culture's chief seemed to be saying, and use this knowledge to say something in return. The professor had rigged the problem so that, when you translated a message back to the chief, you were deeply insulting him and his people, who responded belligerently. And thus, if you got the question right, you had earned the eternal enmity of Kirk and Spock.

I can see one of these new translators doing something like that.