Autonomous, Algorithmic, Simultaneous Translation Systems in the Glocal Village: Consequences and Paradoxical Outcomes
Autonomous, algorithmic simultaneous translation systems (AASTS) have made significant strides, first textually, and more recently orally. In the foreseeable future, they will enable instantaneous, ongoing translated communication between large swaths of humanity, despite our multilingual diversity.
This study first surveys the latest AASTS technologies in the digital, “compunications era,” enabling the widening of translation capabilities and services to overcome communicative misunderstanding and traditional linguistic obstacles standing in the way of “perfect” translation.
The central question is then addressed: Will AASTS reinforce current centripetal trends toward greater globalization/cultural homogenization, or rather strengthen emerging centrifugal forces of increased nationalism and cultural (re)identification?
Some surprising answers are offered, in light of several broad, revolutionary, counterintuitive, and some contradictory, potential AASTS effects: (1) Preservation of linguistic diversity (and end of English as the world’s “lingua franca”) – but in an increasingly globalized world; (2) reduced linguistic cross-pollination and decelerated evolution of language; (3) demise of foreign language education and the profession of human translation; (4) dual-track, multinational political union alongside devolution/decentralization; (5) greater multiculturalism along with a decline in “cultural imperialism”; (6) expansion of global outsourcing and other economic benefits; (7) increased tourism from the First to the Third World, enabling greater understanding of the “other”; (8) immigrant waves in the other direction, potentially exacerbating already existing, nationalist xenophobia. In short, whereas AASTS will lead to some contradictory trends, they will also enable having our (local linguistic/cultural) cake while eating from the (increasingly globalized) table.
Finally, a brief look into the future will be offered, noting altogether new arenas and types of “translation,” with their own, specific, social potentialities.
KeywordsTranslation Global Local Algorithm Diversity Homogeneity
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