An article by David Arbesú, professor of English at the University of Florida, debates the potential disappearance of global language barriers in less than 10 years. With the introduction of "live-translation" apps, technology experts predict that computers will soon make the need for traditional language learning obsolete, despite the many other advantages of learning a second language, such as improved cognitive development. According to Alec Ross, former Senior Advisor for Innovation to Hillary Clinton and author of the New York Times bestseller “Industry of the Future,” small earpieces with inbuilt microphones will translate conversations, eliminating the potential for communication difficulties.
Arbesú, however, claims that computers may never be able to replace human translation due to the complex and nuanced nature of the existing 7,000 languages worldwide. Jokes, sarcasm and situation-specific forms of address are just some of the factors that could be lost if we rely on computer-based translation. Although one question remains: how much should we trust machines to communicate effectively with humans?