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Who'd'a thunk it? The Universal(ish) Translator is in alpha, and it's coming from Microsoft
device
jducoeur
Very, very neat stuff -- according to this article in Ars Technica, they're getting to the point of demo'ing Skype Translator, which, no shit, does on-the-fly translation of spoken word for you while you're on a call. It's sounds like it's a bit slow and limited at this point (just English/Spanish for the full experience), but getting from a proof of concept to something generally usable for real is probably just engineering and data.

I have to agree with the article: the pieces have been there for a while, so this isn't *intellectually* astonishing, but still -- it's one of those "we're catching up with our science fiction kind of fast" moments. And it does remind one that Microsoft hasn't completely ceded the high-tech terrain...