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Skype’s Real-Time Translator Learns How to Speak From Social Media

The quirky cant of Twitter and Facebook helped Microsoft build the tools for its real-time translator

4 min read
Skype’s Real-Time Translator Learns How to Speak From Social Media
Illustration: Dan Page

Think you have trouble deciphering social media slang? Try translating it. Microsoft researchers have been studying how to translate social media, and in their efforts they came across a way to teach the company’s upcoming Skype Translator how to speak more like us.

Some researchers think social media could be key to getting computers to better understand humans. Social media experiments are “important examples of a new line of research in computational social science, showing that subtle social meaning can be automatically extracted from speech and text in a complex natural task,” says Dan Jurafsky, an expert in computational linguistics at Stanford, who recently led work on teaching computers about human interactions by listening to speed dating.

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An IBM Quantum Computer Will Soon Pass the 1,000-Qubit Mark

The Condor processor is just one quantum-computing advance slated for 2023

4 min read
This photo shows a woman working on a piece of apparatus that is suspended from the ceiling of the laboratory.

A researcher at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center examines some of the quantum hardware being constructed there.

Connie Zhou/IBM

IBM’s Condor, the world’s first universal quantum computer with more than 1,000 qubits, is set to debut in 2023. The year is also expected to see IBM launch Heron, the first of a new flock of modular quantum processors that the company says may help it produce quantum computers with more than 4,000 qubits by 2025.

This article is part of our special report Top Tech 2023.

While quantum computers can, in theory, quickly find answers to problems that classical computers would take eons to solve, today’s quantum hardware is still short on qubits, limiting its usefulness. Entanglement and other quantum states necessary for quantum computation are infamously fragile, being susceptible to heat and other disturbances, which makes scaling up the number of qubits a huge technical challenge.

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