Google Translate, the Qualia and Human Consciousness

3 min read

Taking you on a ride on my train of thought…

So, the other day, whilst I was on my shameless procrastination session, I wondered what Google Translate say the translation of “ውሃ አጣጭ” is (mostly because I’m a trash and love abusing the online world with geeky searches, but this essay isn’t about that so, let’s move on). And it won’t surprise most of my Habeshan folks to learn that it wasn’t even nearly accurate. And my mind that loves chewing on unnecessary (but not really unnecessary) things connected certain topics with that and thus this essay was concieved.

It started like this: “Huh, so a time will come where Google Translate’s algorithm is well-fed with accurate translations?” and ended with: “Would words ever express thoughts to the fullest?” (Yes, my mind thrills me, too.)

Google Translate (in my opinion) is still a work in progress. It is still understanding one of the things that makes us unique—language. And, honestly, it (language) is such a fascinating thing when you think deeply about it. It thrills me how I fix certain symbols here like this resulting your brain reading it to you and letting you understand what I am thinking/letting you feel what I want you to feel (unless I’m the terrible author that I am, that is). Now, I was thinking about how Google Translate is limited for a minute or two and somehow landed on another thought: our language translations (even of the finest lexicons, linguists etc.) is limited.

Let me elaborate that. Personally, I find Amharic as a genuine and sincere language; French as a lovely, romantic, kind of a classy-date-ish language; German and Russian have the same murderous feeling; and Hebrew as a majestic language. Now when you translate love in each of these languages, the feeling they give will influence the thought I have for them. Hence, the language, the tone and my perception for the languages will limit my experience to what you wanted me to understand/feel. Not only between different languages, the limitation also exists within synonyms of the same language. I don’t think one would feel the same feeling when they feel “happy” and “ecstatic” nor when they feel “bad” and “terrible”.

Are your brain cells fine? No? Yes? Avocados? Let’s move on anyway because I am not done yet.

The limitation caused by the aforementioned factors then triggered another thought chain that revolves mainly around these terms: words, thoughts, knowledge, experience/the qualia and human consciousness. I will post those thought chains and take you on some sort of thoughts train in (most probably) three parts in the coming days (because I— hold on, I owe none of you explanations as to why I do what I do ሆ!)

(in ellipsis for now)

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