Google Announces New Universal Translator

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Star Trek’s universal translator is here, about 200 years early. Say hello to our new digital overlords, the Google Pixel Buds:

The earbuds connect wirelessly with Google’s latest smartphones, but more importantly, they’re able to access Google Assistant, the company’s virtual personal concierge, which launched exactly a year ago. Through this software, Google claims the earbuds can translate 40 spoken languages nearly in real time—or at least, fast enough to hold a conversation.

A demonstration on stage during Google’s event showed accurate and nearly instantaneous translation from Swedish to English, but it’s unclear how well it will perform in the real world, where background noise, differences in accent, verbal stumbles, and so on could confuse the software.

I don’t quite get the name. Pixel Buds? Did they just pick some random, techie-sounding word to go before buds? Can anybody explain?

Anyway, this is great. I don’t doubt they work a bit spottily right now, but real-time translation is sort of like the dancing bear: pretty astonishing even if it’s mediocre. And if they’re mediocre now, it means we’re no more than a few years away from reliable, accurate, honest-to-God universal translation. And that’s some genuine futuristic shit.

Artificial intelligence is on its way. This isn’t it, but it’s the Archangel Gabriel of precursors. It’s coming.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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