Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Babel to Translation


However, the underground city of workers has a very different story to tell. Caught in a proletarian underground world of mechanical torture, working class slaves away, day after day, alienated, inside the bellies of demonic machines that keep the city in high without problems for the upper classes. Without breaks or one gram of compassion, workers are struggling to make 10-hour shifts at the same time until they collapse the depletion and they are replaced by the next wave of worker bees with the sleepy brain.
"There can be no understanding between the hands and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator".
This was the basic moral of the story of Lang. Workers represent hands, tirelessly pulling levers and turning knobs so that the rest of the civilized society can meet its own highest standards, keeping that power into their own hands, but incapable of make it completely. Jon Fredersen, the creator and ruler of the city, represents the brain: frivolous and completely rational in his vision of the exploitation of the lower class. If it is efficient, it complies with its technological purpose. But at what price? What dangers does it lead?
Only his son Freder, which is exposed to the horrors of life in the underworld when one day he scuttles in search of Mary (the woman that falls in love), is able to feel compassion for their brothers and sisters underground. And it is he who will fight so that both parties join in a civilized agreement to play the role of mediator (the heart connecting the hands and brain).
The basic myth on which stands Translation is the biblical story of the Tower of Babel, in which men have struggled the divinity through progress, trying to build the highest tower that exists to reach the Kingdom of heaven. A project so ambitious and divine that would end up collapsing on them.
Then, what should we do with this and have to do all this with the increased growth of the technology of Automatic translation (or machine translation, MT) on the translation industry?
First, the language itself played a significant role in the collapse of the Tower of Babel.Apparently, Dios felt offended by the audacity of humanity trying to overcome struggling to achieve divinity. Thus, by way of punishment for his vanity, the Lord confused their languages so that none of them could communicate, unleashing such chaos and confusion over the city the same tower and the whole project collapsed under their feet as a direct result of his divine wrath Workers, still unable to communicate among themselves, expanded later by land, founding their own cultures and civilizations. This would explain our global cultural and linguistic diversity. Babel was the beginning, but it also could have been the end.
As humans strive for perfection through technology, sometimes we get lost in the frenzy of playing God. Why isn't the automatic translation (or AI) a simplified simulation of human intelligence in action? Not we will be striving to recreate a sensitive being, a kind of automat, you might think as a linguist living while can process information in a few seconds? A be or humanized contraption that could work for hours and hours without any nutrition or salary? That sounds very similar to Translation.
Then, are we reissuing the myth of the Tower of Babel, by the way? Would not has it taught us anything the history of Lang (or Bible)?
Even if those days seem still far in the future, we are still living on the edge. Because we are already mediators today, leading the way among linguists who work hard and the spoiled children of the garden of Eden.