Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse has been the topic of much talk on the internet. But what does the “Meta” in Metaverse mean? And how will it affect the language we use now?
The Role of Language in Various Industries
Language is all around us. Used almost everyday, in different forms, language is the most basic form of communication for humans, and the foremost method of connection with other beings, animals and plants among them.
Will the Language Landscape Evolve If Metaverse Succeeds
Naturally, with its explicit importance, language has become invaluable in all aspects of society, particularly when it comes to the industries that keep the economy going. In fields such as healthcare, legal, and finance, accurate and precise language is essential for effective case handling and ensuring compliance with regulations. In the technology sector, language is important for creating user-friendly interfaces and documentation. And in marketing and advertising, language is used to create persuasive messages that resonate with consumers.
As language is a natural, ongoing facet of life, it might be difficult to build connections with people who come from different cultures and locations.
However, what if language is taken into an entirely different area altogether? What happens when the language we know now is applied to virtual worlds and situations, such as the Metaverse?
What Is the Metaverse?
The Metaverse is a hypothetical future version of the internet that combines virtual reality, augmented reality, and other emerging technologies to create a shared, persistent, and immersive digital space where people can interact with each other and digital objects in real-time, much like in the physical world.
At its most basic, the Metaverse promises users immersion, real-time interactivity, and total agency. Fully realized, the Metaverse aims for seamless integration between platforms and devices, the possibility for simultaneous interactions between thousands of people, and other use cases apart from gaming.
For some people, the Metaverse seems like another way of escaping reality, but as futurist Cathy Hackl puts it, it’s about “embracing and augmenting it with virtual content and experiences that can make things more fulfilling and make us feel more connected to our loved ones, more productive at work, and happier.”
So what happens when language is introduced to this new, mostly unexplored environment?
How the Metaverse Will Impact Language and Communication
The possibilities are numerous, but the potential is present. Because of the internet, people nowadays have a solid grasp of communication in digital environments, which is mostly comprised of text, emojis, photos and videos.
However, with the Metaverse’s inclusion of both augmented and virtual reality, language might evolve into a more natural and immersive form, such as gestures, facial expressions, and body language. This would allow communication to become more nuanced and richer in context. With enough time and interactions, the Metaverse can even develop language and dialects specific to its environment.
Still, this possible outlook comes with its own challenges. Since the aim of the Metaverse is for multiple people to interact within its virtual surroundings at the same time, the possibility of language barriers and cultural misunderstandings increases, if not becoming a legitimate obstacle.
The Metaverse AI Translator
Fortunately, the creator of the Metaverse, tech company Meta, has taken the first steps to mitigate concerns when it comes to language and communication. According to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s research division is working on a universal speech translation system that could streamline users’ interactions with AI within the company’s digital universe.
This is a two-fold plan. First, Meta is developing No Language Left Behind, a translation system capable of learning “every language, even if there isn’t a lot of text available to learn from,” according to Zuckerberg. “We are creating a single model that can translate hundreds of languages with state-of-the-art results and most of the language pairs — everything from Austrian to Uganda to Urdu.”
The second part is creating an “instantaneous speech-to-speech translation across all languages, even those that are mostly spoken; the ability to communicate with anyone in any language,” Zuckerberg adds. “That’s a superpower that people dreamed of forever and AI is going to deliver that within our lifetimes.”
The Impact of Instantaneous Universal Translation
The revelation of a potential universal translator for the Metaverse can have rippling effects when it comes to its end users.
By enabling real-time translation of spoken or written language, language barriers during more traditional online settings can be significantly reduced, if not outright eliminated. This can allow for broader accessibility, including people in different regions and backgrounds to participate and contribute, regardless of linguistic background.
Additionally, if the AI-powered technology for speech and text has advanced enough, translation for non-verbal communication such as gestures, expressions and body language can be developed as well, strengthening the potential for more holistic, meaningful methods of interaction.
Despite these upsides, it’s important to still note that the use of automated translation or artificial intelligence could introduce errors or misinterpretations into conversations, as the accuracy and reliability of automated translation is not yet perfect. Furthermore, the use of automated translation could have implications for privacy and data security, as sensitive information may be shared and processed by third-party translation services.
The Future of Language in a Metaverse
Overall, the future of language in the Metaverse is likely to be influenced by a range of factors, including advances in translation systems, changes in social and cultural norms, and the evolving needs and preferences of users.
The Metaverse, through the help of AI Universal Translators, can facilitate the blending of different communication methods and practices. It will give rise to hybrid, if not completely new, languages and cultures that will reflect the diversity and richness of the global community.
But ultimately, the language of the Metaverse will be a result of multiple technological, communication, and cultural factors, as users and developers work continuously to create a more inclusive, accessible, and engaging digital environment.
About the Author:
By Ofer Tirosh – founder and CEO of Tomedes, a translation company that offers technological and multilingual solutions to SMEs and Fortune 500 companies worldwide. From his experience, he has written several articles about the translation industry’s role in making technology more accessible to non-native English-speaking markets. You can follow Tirosh through his LinkedIn account by clicking here.
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