Man at His Best

Facebook's New Multilingual Translator Could Break Language Barriers

Facebook's new 45-language strong translator is now live, and growing.

BY BEATRICE BOWERS | Jul 5, 2016 | Technology

Indian Express

We’ve all had moments like these – you’re on Facebook trying to staunch mid-day boredom that feels like a zit that refuses to rear its head. Anything and everything has the potential to be interesting. You chance upon a viral video featuring a rabbit with an Elvis Presley-styled quiff on its head chomping down on hay, and it’s the most magical 22 seconds of your sludgy afternoon.

Three replays later, you’re bound to want answers for why the ball of floof has a ‘do that surpasses yours, but the answer lies in a caption that is a barrage of Thai characters. Unless you’re a polyglot, your burning leporidaen query will never be put to rest.

Facebook’s new instant translation service, made available to millions today, might just cease such questions by expanding the accessibility, and sociability of the platform to new heights. Of Facebook’s 1.5 billion users, only half speak English, creating social barricades for companies, celebrities, and others who require multilingual engagement.

Using Facebook’s Pages service, one could opt to provide their own translations, or use Facebook’s multilingual translator, which automatically translates 45 different languages. While the algorithmic model is currently run by neural networks that aren’t perfect, the team behind the new engine have steady plans for the process to become fully automated and inclusive.

As for the languages outside the 45, the data field is currently lacking, but users who engage with the translator to provide their own translations are contributing to the gradually expanding neural network.

Soon, Facebook could very well be breaking language barriers, instead of just fortifying instances of millions being lost in translation.