The same technology that allows Apple’s Siri to recite movie times could also save dying languages. Of the 6,000 languages on earth, close to a third are in danger of disappearing.
“Some of them may only have a few hundred speakers – could be wiped out by a volcano, say, and that’s happened before,” says David Teeple in a video by The Verge. Mr. Teeple is a linguist for the text-to-speech software company Nuance.
The company hires voice actors to record lines that are then broken down into their phonetic parts and reassembled into any English word. Teeple says the same software could also record the speakers of endangered languages, digitally protecting their culture.
This year, leaked classified documents revealed that the National Security Agency has secretly collected the online communications of foreigners. The PRISM program has gathered data from nine American tech companies, including Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. Setting aside the legal and moral arguments against such a program, Glenn Derene writes in Popular Mechanics that spying on foreigners could hurt the US economy.
“Collecting vast quantities of user data from American-based multinational companies could end up poisoning their reputations and harming their business,” he says. It forces foreign firms to question whether they want to work with American companies, and raises national security questions for other governments thinking about contracting US firms.