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Would you like to buy the plugin? Visitor: Oh, no thanks. Bar patron: Okay. Have you been to a poetry reading here before? Translation: Okay. Visitor: No, I just flew in yesterday? What are they like? Really interesting. Nothing else really like it in the city. Visitor: What kind of poetry is it usually? Visitor: What? The worst poetry people can write. Poet: Putty putty putty Green putty green putty Grarmpitutty Morning!

FlashForward - Robert J. Sawyer - NEW Book

Armpit Putty Not even a particularly nice Shade of green. Every few months there seems to be a new story about how some company has invented a babelfish. Star Trek-like universal translator comes to Skype! The future is now! But machine translation is actually still not great. Barry Slaughter Olsen: What I think frustrates me more than anything is, there is so much journalistic drivel out there today when it comes to language.

And there is, I learned, a difference between those two things, between translation and interpretation. Barry: Translation is written and interpreting is spoken. If you need to speak with a potential business partner from China you need an interpreter. Rose: Now, if you are, say, an English speaker living in a country and community where English is the dominant language, you might not realize how big the language services industry really is. To demonstrate how much translation touches everything around you, Barry challenged me to a little game. Barry: Pick and industry and let me see if I can tell you where translation and interpreting would be applicable.

Give me another one. Barry: TV production and movies! Rose: So if we could really perfect computerized translation, all of this could be simply done by machines. Barry: Technology has really become a huge elephant in the room if you will for translators and interpreters because there has been such progress made towards improving productivity for written translation, and then you have the whole issue of machine translation, that is really shaking up the industry significantly.

Robert J. Sawyer | Issue 80 | Philosophy Now

And we worked out that what it was was soup that had pork in it. Pork turned to swine, and swine turned to filthy. They wrote their promotional materials in Galacian, and used Google Translate to convert them to Spanish. But Google Translate messed up. It messed it up pretty badly. Instead of advertising a grelo festival, suddenly this small town was advertising a clitoris festival. Since … the festival has made the clitoris one of the star products of its local gastronomy.

FlashForward - The Blackout

In November of last year, a Chinese woman in Virginia Beach was arrested and taken to jail on charges of prostitution. So what they did was they pulled up Google Translate, and put question into it, and had her answer them in Chinese back into Google Translate for them to read. So Barry says that he wants people to be more careful before they whip out their translation app and assume it can bridge a language barrier without a problem. Now, before you write Barry off as a luddite who hates technology, I will tell you that he is not.

Rose: Take, for example, translators who work in war zones. Since the United States has employed tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans to travel around with coalition forces and interpret conversations for them. And many of them fear for their lives. According to a Pentagon spokesperson, The U. What if you could have machine translation do a lot of the basic word to word translation, and then have some kind of camera that an interpreter could be watching through to help argument that with notes on culturally specific nuances or correcting the machine translation where it might be wrong?

I struggle understanding how we could think that we could boil down the human experience to mathematical equations because being human is a lot more than just that, but anyway.

possible & not so possible futures

People mean things, and they use words and sentences as tools. Rose: So Julie obviously agrees with Barry, that some parts of language make a true babel fish really hard to actually achieve. And I thought that was really interesting and in a sense kind of realistic. Rose: But what if we DID have a really, truly fluent machine translation system?

What would it be like? But first, a quick break.

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Are looking to publish a novel or know someone who is? If so, and I have a feeling some of you might be Hard Sci Fi lovers, this is a contest for you! So go! Submit your work, or read the submissions already available inkshares. Where the language barrier really has fallen. But this is a podcast about the future! A babelfish! The first question I had, was whether or not this would change how fast people lose or gain languages.

If we can all translate everything in real time, when you move to a new country, do you have to learn that language?

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It might not have anything to do with your own preferences, so that definitely has a role in languages and language loss. Julie: So when I was a kid, starting school, this is I think a universal experience of immigrant kids, is that it becomes really clear what the advantages of knowing the dominant languages are.

Rose: But aside from learning the dominant language wherever you move, do people learn new languages at all? Is there any point if the machine is going to always be better than you are? Erin: And I run Wordnik. You know I might say maybe there are better ways, but learning a language is considered to be good in and of itself. Rose: So while people might not HAVE to learn a language to get by, they still will because they want to be the kind of person who learns languages. Erin: And there are all sorts of things today that people do as weird hobbies that years ago were just stuff that you had to do everyday.

Once language learning becomes a commodity that is available to everyone there will always be people who do it in a kind of recreational, artisanal way. Rose: And even if machine translators are really really good, people are still going to value human translation just because we like humans. Erin: Oh it will be a luxury good, like, your mass market novel will be machine translated into every language on Earth, but, you know, best sellers are going to have it written into their contracts that they get a human translator. Erin: There will be a whole internet forum of translator conspiracy takedown groups, where they do machine translation against the same work that the human translator has done and try and prove that they used machine translation instead, translator truthers!

Rose: And there could be other foolery at foot too. Like anything that humans train, these systems are only as good as the data they learn from. Which means that there will be all kinds of bias coded into the translators. All the language varieties that are discriminated against now, will certainly be discriminated against as inputs for the machine translation. Rose: In other words, the early systems will almost certainly be based on the way that rich white guys talk.

But eventually people will want things that sound like themselves. Rose: But beyond being biased or branded, the system could also be gamed. The idea is that you link a certain word or phrase with a certain translation over and over again online, so that when a system like google translate tries to compare texts it learns your bogus translation.

Erin: Freedom fries! Something, yeah, and so then anyone who used the system and wanted to say that phrase in English it would sound absurd. And a few years ago there was a weird sort of conspiracy theory about a secret code living inside Google Translate. Erin: I think it would be like a tool of spy craft, your deep cover agent would machine translate some innocuous piece of popular literature and what came out would be the instructions.

Rose: So, one of you should write a movie about this, and then tell me about it, so I can watch it.

Why Can’t ABC Follow Through on Its High-Concept Sci-Fi Shows?

Now, any time people talk about universal translation, there are questions about whether or not this is going to make languages less complex. The team investigates a number of events related to the flashforward, including "Suspect Zero," who did not lose consciousness during the event, the sinister "D. Gibbons", and a similar mass loss of consciousness in Somalia in Meanwhile, personal revelations contained within the flashforwards occupy the personal lives of the principal characters. Mark Benford sees his alcoholism relapsing, his wife sees herself with another man, and other characters grapple with similarly unexpected or surprising revelations in their flashforwards.

In the series, the episodes revolve around Agent Benford. However, a character named Lloyd Simcoe portrayed by Jack Davenport will appear on the show. The visions experienced by people in the novel take place 21 years in the future, in the TV series the interval is only six months. Robert James Sawyer is a Canadian science fiction writer, born in Ottawa in and now resident in Mississauga.


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Robert J. Sawyer has won forty-two national and international awards for his fiction, most prominently the Nebula Award for his novel The Terminal Experiment; the Hugo Award for his novel Hominids, the first volume of his Neanderthal Parallax trilogy; and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for his novel Mindscan. He has had two additional Nebula nominations, ten additional Hugo nominations, and three additional Campbell Memorial Award nominations.

His books have appeared on the major top-ten national mainstream bestsellers' lists in Canada, as published by The Globe and Mail newspape and Maclean's magazine, and they have reached number one on the bestsellers' list published by Locus,[10] the trade-journal of the SF field.

In , Robert J. Sawyer received Ryerson University's Alumni Award of Distinction in honor of his international success as a science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer received an honorary doctorate Doctor of Letters, honoris causa from Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario. Sawyer's work frequently explores the intersection between science and religion, with rationalism always winning out over mysticism. He has a great fondness for paleontology, as evidenced in his Quintaglio Ascension trilogy Far-Seer, Fossil Hunter, and Foreigner , about an alien world to which dinosaurs from Earth were transplanted, and his time-travel novel End of an Era.

In addition, the main character of Calculating God is a paleontologist, Wake features a chase scene at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing, and the Neanderthal Parallax novels deal with an alternate version of Earth where Neanderthals did not become extinct. Sawyer often explores the notion of copied or uploaded human consciousness, most fully in his novel Mindscan, but also in Flashforward, Golden Fleece and The Terminal Experiment, plus the Hugo-, Nebula-, and Aurora-award-nominated novella "Identity Theft," its sequel the Aurora-winning short story "Biding Time," and the Hugo- and Aurora-award-nominated short story "Shed Skin.

His interest in consciousness studies is also apparent in his WWW trilogy, beginning with Wake, which deals with the spontaneous emergence of consciousness in the infrastructure of the World Wide Web. Sawyer gives cosmology a thorough workout in his far-future Starplex. Real-life science institutions are often used as settings by Robert J. Another Robert J. Sawyer hallmark is the mortally ill main character. Pierre Tardivel in Frameshift suffers from Huntington's disease, Thomas Jericho in Calculating God has lung cancer, and Jacob Sullivan in Mindscan has an arteriovenous malformation in his brain; one of the main characters in Rollback vividly suffers from that most fatal illness of all, old age.

Sawyer nonetheless is known for tales that end on an upbeat, and even transcendent, note. Sawyer is unusual even among Canadian SF writers for the blatantly Canadian settings and concerns addressed in his novels, all of which are issued by New York houses. He holds citizenship in both Canada and the United States, and has been known to criticize the politics of both countries. He has a tendency to include pop-culture references in his novels his fondness for the original Star Trek, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Planet of the Apes is impossible to miss.

In addition to his own writing, Robert J. Sawyer edits the Robert J. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future contest. Sawyer's similarly titled novel, after successful production in February and March of a pilot episode scripted by David S. Sawyer is story consultant on each episode of the series and is slated to write one of the first-season episodes.

Sawyer wrote the original series bible for Charlie Jade, an hour-long science-fiction TV series that first aired in , and he did conceptual work in for reviving Robotech. He has also written and narrated documentaries about science fiction for CBC Radio's Ideas series, and he hosted the part weekly half-hour documentary series Supernatural Investigator for Canada's Vision TV, which premiered January 27, [58].

Sawyer's Hominids as the "One Book, One Community" title that all , residents were encouraged to read in Sawyer is a frequent keynote speaker about technology topics, and has served as a consultant to Canada's Federal Department of Justice on the shape future genetics laws should take.

He has long been an advocate of Canadian science fiction. The Canadian Region was established in , and Robert J. He also edited the newsletter of the Canadian Region, called Alouette in honor of Canada's first satellite; the newsletter was nominated for an Aurora Award for best fanzine.

Sawyer was elected president of SFWA on a platform that promised a referendum on various contentious issues, including periodic membership requalification and the creation of a Nebula Award for best script; he won, defeating the next-closest candidate, past-SFWA-president Norman Spinrad, by a margin. However, Robert J. Sawyer's actual time in office was marked by considerable opposition to membership requalification and negative reaction to his dismissing, with the majority support of the Board of Directors, one paid SFWA worker and one volunteer. He resigned after completing half of his one-year term, and was automatically succeeded by then-incumbent vice-president Paul Levinson.

Prior to resigning, Robert J. Sawyer's promised referendum was held, resulting in significant changes to SFWA's bylaws and procedures, most notably allowing appropriate non-North American sales to count as membership credentials, allowing appropriate electronic sales to count as membership credentials, and creating a Nebula Award for best script.

Sawyer has been active in other writers' organizations, including the Crime Writers of Canada, the Horror Writers Association, and the Writers' Union of Canada for which he has served on the membership committee , and he is a member of the Writers Guild of Canada, which represents Canadian scriptwriters. Click the 'Add To Cart' button at the bottom of this form to proceed. Author: Nick Hendler, webmaster kryptronic.