2018-02-06-hubris

I got one of those audiobooks of the year’s best science fiction.  It had a story in it I liked a lot.  Now that I look at this cartoon, I think I liked it more than I realized.

In it, a computer programmer had given her sister a beta-version language translation software suite that was ramped up to account for the fact that her sister communicated in a couple of different Sign Languages.  The software would translate sign, and whatever other languages it could recognize, or learn, and display a CGI avatar of the person with a synth voice as though it were speaking American English aloud.

All well and good until, through a series of domestic vagaries, the woman’s daughter finds herself going through interminable conversations with someone while the computer flounders to understand the language of the caller involved.  The avatar would repeat “Hello” and “I’m hungry”, but the caller never seemed to understand the responses.

Finally over days, the computer breaks the language and conversations get a little better.  And, in the end, as you’ve possibly guessed, the avatar had been randomly assigned to a pet crow.  The augmented and advanced language software worked like crazy to understand and translate a language, but the avatar imaging software was only concerned with making lips match American English words, and didn’t have a setting for ‘non-human’ face.

Good story.