Will Learning Languages Be Necessary in the Future?



The "Pilot" application allows to translate conversations in real time in several languages. Does this kind of technology announce the end of language learning?

A revolutionary application to translate in real time


Recently, we talked about an application that translates in real time through earbuds.
These earbuds connected to a mobile app translate 4 languages in real time. This device available from 2017 could allow to communicate with a foreigner without learning his language.
Remember the movie "Lost in Translation". Have you ever felt lost in a completely foreign environment without the ability to communicate?
To avoid this on your next trip to a country you do not know the language, or in your city, with a tourist in distress, the New York start-up Waverly Labs claims to have the solution thanks to a pair of earbuds called "Pilot".

If they prove to be as effective as the company claims, this system will, firstly translate English, Spanish, Italian and French. All in real time.
The start-up ensures that within two years, idioms such as Hindi, Arabic, and other African, Slavic and Asian languages will be also available. The founders of Pilot thus claim to be able to create "a world without language barriers".

To use this new generation translator, it would be enough to place one earbud in your ear, and another in the one of your interlocutor.
The essential element to connect the two earbuds is a smartphone, on which an application will download the different available languages. Speech recognition algorithms are supposed to do the rest. The whole, even offline, so as not to incur additional costs of Internet connections when the user is abroad.
The creators of Pilot are already announcing a second generation of their product, which will be able to translate the words of an interlocutor without any earbud.

A vision that already raises, among some experts, the question of the usefulness of learning foreign languages in the future ...

That's what we are going to discuss now!

Will it soon be useless to learn a foreign language?


Besides the example of the "Pilot" device that still have to prove its performance, nowadays, we can already send multilingual messages on Facebook, we can also talk in Chinese on Skype and even read a scientific article in English thanks to Google! All this is already real and not science fiction.

Obviously, knowing all the progress yet to come and especially through artificial intelligence, some already ask themselves whether there will still be a need to learn a foreign language. Furthermore, will we still need an interpreter or a translator?
If we listen to the representatives of the translators, this time is not yet ready to come. For them, artificial intelligence or not, translation cannot be reduced to a computer equation, for it is more an art than a science! It is an argument that holds its ground ... for the moment. This argument will undoubtedly also be dismantled exactly as we had said that a computer would never beat an expert at chess, or better still at the game of go, two bets that did not stand long against the new intelligent robots.
Without going into the future, it should be noted that translation algorithms already produce excellent results for European regulatory texts, for example. Not only does this type of text - codified enough in its structure - lends itself wonderfully to translations by computers, but it is infinitely faster. It is true that for texts of a more general nature, such as novels for example, automatic translations are still quite disappointing.
For other observers, instead of worrying, we should all rejoice that algorithms can help us to interact with people from different cultures.
And then those who want to settle abroad will have no choice but to learn the local language. If an American wants to settle on the Côte d'Azur for his old age, he will have to learn French.
For the rest, automatic translation will be especially an opportunity, as it will release new energies, including in the recruitment of personnel.

And you, do you think that it will no longer be necessary to learn languages in the future? Please leave a comment below.
  • FAQ Author: vincentvincent profile picture Nov 25, 2016 @ 15:16

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  • 1 Comments
Engineergeek profile picture Engineergeek   
Electronic translation systems use previously human translated texts. If we stop learning foreign languages and rely on machines we will start a vicious circle where translations get progressively worse.
    May 29, 2017 @ 13:13