XTM Advent Calendar Day Thirteen – Into the Metaverse
Facebook’s rebranding as Meta Platforms this year was partly a bid to refresh the company’s image and partly an attempt to stake a claim in what may become the next iteration of the internet.
The metaverse will consist of 3-D environments accessible via smartphones, PCs and game consoles, and will offer users an immersive virtual reality experience. At this moment it’s still just an idea. How long before it becomes our reality?
If and when that happens, China’s pioneering work in the AI space will be a major influence. Billions of dollars in R&D investment have been sunk into Beijing’s New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan since its creation in 2017, and China also leads the way in consumer device manufacturing. While the launch of the metaverse will surely need cooperation between tech pioneers around the world, Chinese research may well enable the next stage of online communication, and Chinese-made devices may well be needed to access it.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg may have seen this coming when he set out to learn Chinese. As well as a strong commercial motivation to succeed, he had the support of his Chinese-speaking wife. When he put his progress to the test on an advisory trip to Beijing, Zukerberg conducted a 30 minute question and answer session with local students, entirely in Mandarin. Some of us would argue that he deserves credit for flying on this particular trapeze without a net, but not everyone gave it to him. Quartz News reported that he sounded “like someone was stepping on his face”. Another observer wrote that he resembled “an articulate seven-year-old with a mouth full of marbles.”
The complexities of the language led Zuckerberg to state that Facebook had eleven mobile users when it actually had a billion. Linguists would surely sympathise. Mandarin contains over 50,000 characters, and it’s possible to be familiar with each individual word in a sentence and not fully understand its meaning. Chinese translation is an unforgiving discipline, and unless we master it, we’ll struggle to keep pace with the next stage of tech development and consumer spending. With a limited number of skilled linguists available, and an entirely new metaverse to serve, high volumes of automated translation will be required to keep us talking.
Can we trust machine translation to get the job done? Thanks to XTM’s pioneering work in Inter-language vector space (ILVS), the answer is yes.
Google research has revealed that by using algorithms coupled with a neural network, we can “predict” a target word based on its surrounding words. With enough data to draw on, we can automatically complete a sentence with a high degree of accuracy.
With ILVS, XTM has taken the research one stage further, and enabled comparisons between different languages. We can evaluate machine translation on a segment by segment level and compare the output and quality of different MT engines for a uniquely informed judgement of translation accuracy. Drawing on vast amounts of online data, ILVS can perform instant calculations in over 250 languages, covering a total of 31,125 language pairs.
The result? Fast, accurate and consistent machine translation that requires minimal editing. And XTM Cloud offers the most user-friendly environment for linguists and project managers to complete that editing.
Technology reviews of 2021 will no doubt discuss the creation of Meta Platforms and the prospects of us accessing a metaverse. They may not mention the value of ILVS, but XTM Cloud users already know it very well.
The metaverse is coming. And we’re ready to help you understand every word of it.