March 17, 2017


Artificial intelligence will delete nationalism (Nabil Al-Khowaiter, 3/17/17, Al Jazeera)

This barely acknowledged revolution, which is likely to change the entire course of human history in a few short decades, is the rise of Artificial Intelligence-enabled, fully fluent live audio translation of conversations between humans of all ethnicities.

We are not just talking about the literal translation of English or French into Russian or Chinese, but the translation of the subtle meanings wrapped in cultural allegories that even fluent but non-native speakers of a language often miss.

This means that armed with nothing more than an Artificial Intelligence, or AI, audio translation app on a mobile phone, an American tourist could enter a farmer's market in Turkey or Germany and, not only haggle over prices, but laugh and joke with a local fruit seller as if he was Turkish or German. Wait another decade and he will be able to do the same thing in China. 

Suddenly, everything we consider today a barrier to mutual understanding between peoples will fall away as millennia of linguistically based cultural and religious isolation in discrete societal units between billions of human beings to dissolve within a few decades.

What will this mean for the modern bureaucratic nation state, which evolved over the last 300 years in an environment that allowed for the voluntary and/or enforced organisation of millions of individuals into separate political units on the basis of linguistic and cultural differences?

What will it mean for ethnic and religious identities when a complete foreigner's deepest worries, anxieties and hopes become intelligible? 

Will it still be possible to create a national state bureaucracy by training and imbuing a group of individuals with a sense of duty and commitment to a single language or cultural group? More urgently, what will it mean for human migrations around the world?

Governments around the world need to begin preparing for the wrenching changes to identity politics when the incentive for people to cooperate more with people who speak their own language is no longer an overriding factor in the political empowerment of individuals.
If an Albanian is able to understand the most obscure German phrase and reply to it in perfect German, what power on earth will stop him from leaving a job paying an average wage of less than $3,200 a year, when he can travel to Germany and potentially qualify for a job with an average wage of $32,000 a year?

Furthermore, will Africans, Asians and South Americans, whose standard of living is a fraction of that in industrialised countries choose to remain in relative poverty because they will feel like aliens outside their country's borders, or will they pick up and leave to find work on another continent with no language barriers to deal with?

It stands to reason that the elimination of language and cultural barriers around the world by AI will lead to massive migrations of people seeking a better standard of living across and between continents. 

Just turn on the Travel Channel with the sound off and try to figure out what city they're in.  They are all the same after globalization.
Posted by at March 17, 2017 5:26 AM