Re: Linguist's Of The Apocalypse, unite!

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Thu, 30 Jan 1997 15:41:17 -0800 (PST)

> > The comment to which I replied was something along the lines of "in
> > 100 years, you wouldn't recognize English", and I disagree...

> Here's an interesting idea: Automatic translation.
> . . .
> "When making a prediction based on a technological trend, ask yourself
> what technology could lead to the exact opposite of what you predicted.
> If that technology could move faster than the trend on which your
> prediction is based, rethink your prophecy."
> -- Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (

A brilliant observation, and one I will save and keep in mind when
I attempt further prophecies. Thank you.

But I don't think it applies here. Two facts get in the way: first,
in order for two automatic translators to communicate effectively,
they will need to share /some/ common protocol for representing the
concepts they plan to exchange. The more universal this internal
protocol is, the more useful the machines will be, so there is a
drive for stability. Second, since much of the information content
of something like a movie or television show is not expressed in
the mere language used, such recordings will have to be archived in
their original, complete form, so that transhumans who study these
fossils will be able to see the tones, facial inflections, music,
lighting--and cultural idiom--contained in them. To deliberately
abandon English rather than keeping it alive along with whatever
native transhuman communication we develop would be to smash the
Rosetta stone, limiting our ability to learn from the past.