Google AI Won't Replace Language Learning, Now Or Ever: Babbel

Despite remarkable advancements in the field, Google's artificial intelligence solutions are unlikely to replace language learning, now or ever, according to Julie Hansen, the U.S. CEO of Babbel, still touted as the most successful language app in the world.

While the language-learning industry changed by a significant margin since Babbel's 2007 launch, the company headquartered in New York City and Berlin doesn't view AI as a threat to its business model. "At Babbel, we see machine translation as being one part of the language learning journey, rather than being an innovation that replaces it," Ms. Hansen said in a statement provided to Android Headlines.

Not only is Babbel unconcerned about the potential threat real-time translations pose to its business but it actually believes such solutions may help it thrive going forward. As exposure to languages increases, so does people's motivation to learn them, and instant translations presently being offered by Google certainly accomplish the former goal, however rough they may be. That train of thought largely summarizes Babbel's stance on technologies such as Google Assistant's newly launched Interpreter Mode announced earlier this month.

Don't buy into the "hype"

Ms. Hansen is referring to instant translation solutions as "band-aid" tools which can never hope to replace actual knowledge of any given foreign language. "Despite the hype around machine learning, algorithms are yet no match for human intelligence, especially when it comes to natural language," the industry veteran explained. Ultimately, Babbel sees its users and other people around the world who are trying to learn a new language as individuals willing to make significant sacrifices in order to communicate with others more effectively. Those dedicated enough to do so are unlikeyl to drop their long-term ambitions just because someone came up with an app that can deliver a rudamentary understanding of select foreign languages, the CEO suggested.

Learning a new language also broadens one's perspective of the world as every tongue has its own range of methods for describing life and everything that surrounds us, Ms. Hansen argued, pointing to that phenomenon as yet another example of a benefit that AI-powered translators simply cannot hope to replace. Finally, Babbel's U.S. chief is quick to point out that language learning comes with psychological benefits, helping people become more resourceful, particularly when it comes to multitasking, in addition to having a scientifically proven effect on the human brain's efforts to delay the start of dementia.

Ultimately, Babbel isn't just unconcerned by technologies such as Google Assistant's Interpreter Mode and real-time translations offered by Pixel Buds but insists it's more than happy to welcome such services as it doesn't see any realistic substitute for language learning, as Ms. Hansen explained.

Professional translators are also believed to have little reason for concern as teh current state of Google's technologies and comparable solutions is far from being passable in a working environment meant to convey the meaning of foreign languages. Alphabet's subsidiary never outright claimed it's looking to replace translators and challenge the very concept of language learning but the company has been moving in that direction for a while now.

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About the Author

Dominik Bosnjak

Senior Writer
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]