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checker280 t1_j0uq0zx wrote

My (M60) WTF moment with tech that everyone else just shrugs over is the tech behind Google Translate.

I discovered Word Lens in 2010.

I was fascinated with Optical Character Recognition programs at the time - it was a way of taking a photo of text, recognizing the text well enough to not only understand what was written but create an editable file.

Word Lens took that to another level when it not only understood what was written but was able to translate it to another language almost as fast as it would take the camera lens to focus on that portion of the screen.

It’s even more impressive that the dictionaries were tiny.

I recall being fascinating by the Palm Pilots decades earlier - particularly the part where you were carrying around word processing and text editing capabilities in the palm of your hand. This was next level magic.

While the dictionaries were cheap - maybe $5 - nobody seemed to care enough to want to pay.

Fast forward to today, after Google buys Word Lens then folds it into their Google Translate and makes it just another feature that most of my peers just overlook.

I’m constantly looking for opportunities to use it. I read the free foreign language newspaper found in most major cities. I translate the menus of my favorite ethnic restaurants. As an installer, I used to create Flashcards in real time to communicate with my immigrant customers.

It really is Star Trek level tech


ThePhoneBook t1_j0uqven wrote

You realise that all that's happening is your clients are aware of the limits of the translation and are accommodating to it, yes? Machine translation has got a bit better over two decades, but humans have got much better over two decades at realising they're reading machine translations and either making sure the input is basic or correcting mentally for deficiencies in the output. I'm at the point where I expect shit translations but I ask myself, "Why did the computer say it like this?" and meanwhile am depressed that the average article has the reading age of a 12 year old to accommodate for all this automated processing. Compare a reputable newspaper's writing style in the 1980s to today, or even look at the enjoyable turn of phrase of publications like the New Yorker and contrast with modern clickbait style.

This is like the trope about French people preferring to speak in English than tolerating your terrible French. They've taken the opposite attitude to Silicon Valley America, which expects everyone to race down to the lowest common denominator of man and machine - they don't want to have to dumb themselves down to your level of French.


checker280 t1_j0utyju wrote

Not really. I never used it for chats over coffee. I simply needed to ask simple questions like “where is your tv?”, “where do you use the internet?”, and “where is the electrical outlet?”

Just being able to get to that level of easy communication without (this was the Verizon way) calling up an 800 number, passing my cell to the customer, customer has a lively chat with the operator about why I’m here and what needs to be done, with me standing by stupidly while the operator over promises what I can do (of course he’s going to hide all the wires and feed your cat!!), and then ends the call, which inevitably leads to “can you point me toward an electrical outlet?” and puzzled looks.

Can you describe that sentence without props with hand gestures?


estherstein t1_j0v5fqo wrote

I have an MA in Talmud and I used Google Lens to OCR old blurry books all the time so I could format them. It's incredible.