Google, Kurzweil, and the information transformation age

December 20, 2012

Last week, Google announced the hiring of Ray Kurzweil, who will work to solve complex language processing problems, among other things. In an interview last year, Kurzweil pointed out that language processing issues are among the most difficult problems to solve. Kurzweil will join the same company that employs Franz Och, the mastermind behind Google Translate (both were interviewed for my new book, Found in Translation). This is extremely important news — far more important than most people realize.

Google Translate is not just a tool that enables people on the web to translate information, although that’s how people know it on the surface. It’s a strategic tool for Google itself. Google’s self-declared mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” It’s impossible for Google to accomplish this without translation. In fact, translation is one of the most critical components of this mission. The world’s information cannot be accessible if it’s locked up in languages that people cannot understand. The only way to unlock that information is through translation. […]