Star Trek VI: will computers ever emulate the charm of human language learners?

Looks like like two teams are in the final running for the Tricorder Xprize—the idea of this kind of technology coming to the consumer in the near future is awe-inspiring.

I joked about the Universal Translator in this post a few years ago—-somehow I don’t think that technology is much farther away…. technologically, this is an extraordinary time to be alive!!


For some reason, seeing Christopher Plummer in the running for his [now confirmed] Oscar for his role in Beginners, made me remember him playing the role of General Chang in Star Trek VI. I hadn’t watched a Star Trek movie in ages, so I decided to resurrect a golden oldie over the weekend. Star Trek fans may remember that the Klingon-language dialogue figures quite prominently throughout Star Trek VI…

“We must respond personally–the Universal Translator would be recognized”

I’ve actually never been one to get swept up in the idea of learning to speak Klingon, but there was something about the context of a particular scene that I found quite interesting. If you’re not familiar with the world of Star Trek, it’s set in the 23rd century and is full of futuristic gadgets and interplanetary space drama. Whenever there is a conversation between life forms, crossing the language barrier is…

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