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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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The Spectacular Collapse of CryptoKitties, the First Big Blockchain Game

A cautionary tale of NFTs, Ethereum, and cryptocurrency security

8 min read
Vertical
Mountains and cresting waves made of cartoon cats and large green coins.
Frank Stockton
Pink

On 4 September 2018, someone known only as Rabono bought an angry cartoon cat named Dragon for 600 ether—an amount of Ethereum cryptocurrency worth about US $170,000 at the time, or $745,000 at the cryptocurrency’s value in July 2022.

It was by far the highest transaction yet for a nonfungible token (NFT), the then-new concept of a unique digital asset. And it was a headline-grabbing opportunity for CryptoKitties, the world’s first blockchain gaming hit. But the sky-high transaction obscured a more difficult truth: CryptoKitties was dying, and it had been for some time.

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