Meta wants you to understand anyone, from anywhere, no matter which language they speak. To achieve this the company is looking to build a universal, instantaneous speech translator, capable of translating any language to any other language — including languages that are primarily spoken.
Mark Zuckerberg announced this goal during an AI-focused event Wednesday, describing it as a key step toward a world-encompassing metaverse. “The ability to communicate with anyone in any language — that’s a superpower people have dreamed of forever, and AI is going to deliver that in our lifetimes.”
Meta’s ambitious universal translation project is part of a broader push to build out the company’s translation capabilities for the metaverse. “This is going to be especially important when people begin teleporting across virtual worlds and experiencing things with people from different backgrounds,” Zuckerberg said.
As part of these efforts, Meta’s AI researchers have begun to build an AI model called “No Language Left Behind” that is supposed to be able to learn new languages with less training data than existing machine translation models to more easily understand languages like Luganta, a language spoken by an estimated 2 million people in Uganda.
Going even further, the company’s “Universal Speech Translator” is supposed to be able to translate speech directly to speech without first transcribing it.
Zuckerberg and Meta’s AI researchers also used Wednesday’s event to announce a range of other AI initiatives meant to support the company’s metaverse push, including algorithms that will help people more easily create virtual worlds with the help of AI assistants. To this end, Meta’s researchers built a “Builder Bot,” which Zuckerberg demonstrated in a short clip that had his VR avatar create a beach scene, complete with palm trees and a picnic table, with just a few spoken commands.
“As we advance this technology further, you'll be able to create nuanced worlds to explore and share experiences with others, with just your voice,” Zuckerberg said.