I Translate, Therefore I Be

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I Translate, Therefore I Be

Would machine translators free people up for other work? Well, that still remains to be seen as to which degree you would like to depend on it. While the need for crude machine translation may be useful in emergencies, it may fall short of the hopes to replace language learning for face-to-face communication.

  1. The targeted sentences supplied by Google Translate must never be mistaken for “correct translation,” which never exists for there are too many nonverbal and unexpected factors in human speech.
  2. Google Translate, instead of translating, actually pairing most equivalent sentences from an astronomically large corpus utilized by Google search engine. That means it can be cool when it comes to writing, because it has access to the documentation online like Google Books. However, I would not expect it to work miracle when I have to express myself at a meeting, or when I need to craft a prose of beautiful translation. Of course, it should be of no use for simultaneous interpretation.
  3. I think over the last decades there has been a resurgence of optimism in the research community around AI, machine learning and voice recognition, which has come really close to solving some core problems with AI and interpretation/translation. Machines learnings improves with experience, which means even robots can learn as they are being preprogrammed.   With enough data and examples to look at, machines come up, hopefully, with functionaries on their own. Therefore, you feed the systems lots of speech to leave them a conclusion arrived at by induction. And, this gives Google a competitive edge because it has a huge database built and expanded by Google’s search engine.

 

That is an incredible accomplishment as to understanding human speech given the problems caused by intonation. I think they have a group of software engineers sitting there, trying to write down the rules of syllable, phoneme, semantics and sound. But, they will ultimately get to a point where unpredictable behavior emerges.

Given the progress that has been made so far, machines are moving toward self-education with a huge database fed by the Net and speech. But the final mile would be how to build the correlations between the examples, but causal inference is much more complicated for them to acquire because languages do not always follow the rules. After all, the world is not just a matter of only statistic intelligence and correlations.

Take raining and opened umbrellas as an example. We can train a system to sift through millions of images of people going outdoors with their umbrellas opened. Nonetheless it may come up with an incorrect inferrence that whenever people open their umbrellas, it is going to rain.   Umbrellas and rain are linked with each other, but are not necessarily in an cause-and-effect relation.

Understanding and learning this cause and connections in languages is what makes chatting beyond preprogrammed rules, and, of course, algorithm’s capabilities. If not, then we are predictable machines, too.

Extended Reading:

1.Google Translate App Gets an Upgrade http //bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/14/google-translate-app-gets-an-upgrade/?smid=fb-share&_r=0

2. Hold conversations using Google Translate

3.Why Google Translate Can’t Compare to a Human Translation Service http://verbalink.com/articles/why-google-translate-cant-compare-to-a-human-translation-service

Turn Wait to Cash Flow for Business Owners Episode IV Waiting for Equipment in the Gym

 

          Gym lines are almost impossible to avoid during peak hours. The best way to address this hassle may be to hit the gym during off-hours either early in the morning or after 19:00 hours.

 

But a crowded gym should not be the reason to stall the routine for doing that exercise on the machines or equipment. So, if we have to spend so much time waiting for meals, business, exercise routine, why not turn these down times into productivity?

 

This is why some app makers are branching out into other industries for a share of the “waiting economy.”

 

To get around the “always occupied” issue, having alternative options can be a better way to go. I think a squat rack may be the best place to get in a heavy set of back squats, but as a backup plan, dumbbell goblet squats can be just as challenging and add an element of core strength. Furthermore, this period can be used to warm up so injuries can be avoided as workouts get tough.

 

However, people will stay moving rather than waiting for the equipment to open up if they can be informed how long they have to wait for each of them. For example, when people know that they have to wait for 20 minutes to use the bench, they will probably go for an alternative plan and budget the time spent on the session.

 

After all, we do not see why anyone should waste time in a line anywhere. And, gym beasts do not have to scramble with gym clowns for the Smith Machine.

 

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Turn Wait to Cash Flow for Business Owners

Episode I
What my friend Mark Peng and his partners wanted when they open their own 20-seat Taipei eatery, Tammy Cafe, in 2012 was to offer a cozy corner for citizens in Shi-lin district and tourists to Twin River area (外雙溪). However, the scene of people walking in from the cold outside and only to find that all the tables already occupied makes them felt wretched about it.

Aspired to become a bona fide hit, and that posed a difficult dilemma that comes with publicity: “People weren’t going to tolerate long waits,” says Mark. To keep customers satisfied, he had waiters take phone numbers and call people when a table was available. It worked but still not good enough—and did not keep patrons from pestering waiters or dining elsewhere.

Turn Wait to Cash Flow for Business Owners
Episode II

The real trick is to turn those waiting periods into fun time. “It can be a golden opportunity to get real work done. ” From my own experience, I would appreciate it if the restaurateur let me have a quiet corner to do what I have to do so that I can enjoy my meal later. While the restaurant offers prospective customers something useful such as travel tips or pre-order service, not only does it alleviate the stress of the delays, but it allows for more chances to conduct customer surveys or sample tastings.

Some people think becoming a preferred customer is the first step toward saving and maximizing time. Such status may provide quicker service, but may not be cost-efficient if you are not some frequent guest. At an eatery like Tammy Café, each dish takes time to prepare for bringing out the best flavor, so what we can do to pass the down time?

It is where a time waster/reminder such as an app comes into use.

Turn Wait to Cash Flow for Business Owners
Episode III
Opportunities and Challenges
Despite the rich diversity of functions, notification and visualization remain the two fundamental features for almost all wait apps. When a table is ready, you should receive notification via the portable devices on your person, and most wait apps provide access to a real-time visualization of the virtual line so you can see how far back you are.

When people know what to expect, they would more likely to wait and stay with a restaurant.

As the apps work the wonder, so does the improvement in retention numbers. The challenge is in persuading a hidebound industry to utilize new technologies. Even most restaurants lose money on reservations in which consumers can cancel them without penalties, they still do it.

Some restaurants use a “token system” to prevent this. So diners have to buy tokens to reserve a table and they would get no refund once they cancel it. I think this only works for those really famous restaurants and chefs, and wait apps can do the same and, in the meantime, cut costs.

Photo Credit: WaitAway

Wait apps like WaitAway maks the wait more tolerable.

Wait apps like WaitAway maks the wait more tolerable.

US Cruise Missile Submarines Ride the Wave of Asia-Pacific Security Issues

  1. P8101743_Fotor_Collage_Fotor_CollageAs two mountains of steel made their way to the Asia-Pacific waters, they made waves to foreign shores.  Having been deployed underwater for three months before making scheduled calls, the two of the US Navy’s cruise missile submarines, the USS Michigan and the USS North Carolina, are serving as a peacemaking force in the disputed waters in the East China Sea, South China Sea and the Philippine Sea.According to the London-based Jane’s Defence Review, the United States plans to move up to 60% of its naval power to the Far East in 6 years to maintain the regional power of balance as China is set for expand its maritime power in the region.

    Security in the Asia-Pacific became the focus of global concern, particularly following the increasing tension between China and some of its neighbors like Japan, Vietnam, Philippines and India. Given territorial disputes have spiked across the region and China is viewed as partially menacing its neighbors. The United States has announced a pivot to Asia, but defense budget cuts and challenges elsewhere in the world like ISIS may undermine Barack Obama’s promises to the US’s allies.

    Paralleled with the shift in the US’s foreign policies, Japan’s prime minister Shinzō Abe is looking to expand the role that his country’s military plays in ensuring regional peace. The retired admiral Kaneda Hideaki called on both the U.S.A. and Japan to create a mechanism to take in Taiwan as they discuss the revision of Japan-US Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.

    This event is drumming up for support to check the burgeoning Chinese hegemony, but also for the negotiation on trade pacts across Taiwan Strait. The disparity is also reflected in social attitudes and the ambivalent feelings held by many Taiwanese.  Various opinion polls indicate that people here welcome the business opportunities fostered by the ties with China, but also fear a string tag of political and cultural assimilation.

    I hope that we can find an answer from the impending Scottish independence referendum.

Photo Credits: U.S. navy and Reuters

Alibaba Headed into Soccer Field with Evergrande

About 3 months ago at the joint press conference hosted in Guangzhou, China, founder and chairperson of Alibaba Jack Ma (Ma Yun, in orange)and the chairman of Evergrande Group Xu Jiayin(in blue)confirmed their highly anticipated partnership during a signing ceremony. The e-commerce portal will pay 1.2 billion Yuan(US $19 million)for a 50-percent share of Evergrande.

 

Guangzhou Evergrande is one of China’s most successful football clubs and Alibaba is the Chinese, even to some extent, the worldwide leading e-commerce company.

 

So, what is the rational for this unusual horizontal alliance?

 

“We’re not investing in football, we’re investing in entertainment,” Mr. Ma told a press briefing on Thursday. “Alibaba’s future strategies are health and entertainment.”

 

It seems that Alibaba Group’s IPO has little to curb its appetite for acquisition, and this acquisition marks the firm’s latest attempt to diversify its business and to bolster its online entertainment offerings include Youku, AKA the YouTube of China.

 

Although it is not common for an Asian tech company wanting to make a foray into sports, it should not be surprising if you know Guangzhou is a stronghold of Alibaba’s arch-rival, QQ.

 

Who can be a better assistant in penetrating the market than a super property agent?

 

 

Photo Credits: BBC, CFP and Bizjournals

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Walk In with Honors and Walk Away with Partnership

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The summer about two hundred years ago, the Chinese government was called on the carpet to grant indemnity and extraterritoriality to Britain after the Anglo-Chinese War, which had been fought between the two over their conflicting viewpoints on diplomatic relations, trade and other issues.

The circumstances were turned around completely 172 years later.

On 17 June 2014, Chinese Premiere Li Keqiang was followed by British Minister David Cameron as he walked past the Honor Guard at the Treasury Building in London.  This time, he was invited for the UK-China Summit, in which both sides committed to their economic and trading relationship while Li acted as an advocate for Chinese products and services in technology, finance, energy, education and infrastructure.

Record bilateral trade growth tells the story: Britain’s exports to China have risen by 15% last year and more than 200% in the last 5 years at a £1-billion-a-month pace. With more Chinese investment into the United Kingdom in the last one and a half years than in the whole of the last 30 years combined.

This would not only mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Britain comprehensive strategic partnership, but also the degree to which Sino-British cooperation stands to benefit both sides, as well as the global economy.

 

Photo Credits: CNTV, BBC and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China

Literary Classics for the Young and the Elder

 

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As an English major, I do not recall enjoying reading those classics and understand them very well. I would say the first one I really enjoyed was The Scarlet Letter, with which I could really relate for its characters are quite strong and dare to buck the trend, and even stand up to the establishments.However, classics can take a while for people, especially ESL readers, to grasp the meaning and connotations arising from the contexts, let alone appreciation and pleasure.One of the difficulties readers may have when reading classics is the language used can be quite different from modern literature, even though many characters are relatable and the issues facing them remain relevant today.
I also struggled with the length of these books. Too often, those unfinished novels I shelved long time ago would come into my view and remind me of my laziness and stupidity.

So how can we make these classics more accessible?

With The Enchanted Attics, Lisa Samson engages readers with some of the tomes gathering dust in your attics. The series are based on what might happen if some of literature’s greatest characters wandered into modern times. Written in an approachable, easy-to-follow manner, the whole series can be appreciated by adults as well as young readers, which is why the classics earn that designation. And Lisa’s writing leave the reader more time to contemplate the characters and themes at their most basic.

I feel that reading can be a terrific substitute for those non-sense TV programs, especially they leave you a good sleep with some though-provoking plots and mind gymnastics.

 

 

 

 

Is Economic Forecast Becoming Fortune-telling?

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Life is full of uncertainties and choices, so we struggle to predict what lies ahead and what it would be like if we take actions. If we cannot fathom the secrets in the making, seeing the whole picture of economy will be too overwhelming for us to tackle alone. Hence, we need professional advice.

But, here is a problem. When forecast arrive on the scene, whom and what should we believe?

In the book Fortune Tellers the Story of America’s First Economic Forecasters, Walter Friedman offers a deep perspective on this issue by tracking back to the USA’s first economic forecasters. He notes that economic forecast is nothing but an autonomous economy that followed decipherable rules.

These empirical approaches to economy created econometric models, along with ideas of how to conceptualize the economy. And, this explains why we have founded so many institutions to analyze the past as well as forecast the future.

Many financial advisors rely heavily on business cycle, they know the client would feel more comfortable about investment plans if they catch the internal rhythms of economy. It is just like sailing ships in the tide, the feeling of not knowing where we are going would kill us. This is why a bunch of experts would gather data and send out newsletters to render the financial outlook to their entrepreneurial advantages.

That is the way a lot of people tend to think about the economy these days. When seeing the stock market, for instance, going way up, your mind tells you that it is probably going to come down a similar amount and reach some kind of normal level. And that was Babson’s Chart, a beautiful red and black chart that shows how areas of boom and bust will equal out over time.

How much growth would you expect from investments? Babson’s chart has a trend line driving through the curve. And that was the estimated normal growth rate of about 3% per year. Therefore, for those who cannot take too much risk, it would be a great tool for making investments.

On the contrary, Irving Fisher became a rival of Babson in analytical approaches to economy. As a trend analyst, Babson really believes in trends over a long period of time. Just the opposite, Fisher does not think trends are important at all. Instead, he believes in causation and tries to figure out how the economy works and the effects are entailed. What effect does it have if we plow earnings back? What effect does it have if we pour dividends back in to earnings? Fischer tried to find ways to quantify these changes and the effects they would exert. His perspectives corroborate econometrics and foster the idea of mathematical approaches to forecasting and to make sense of econometrics.

The big move in forecasting that really has made a difference, is the transition from the idea of a fixed business cycle, to one in which certain actors like the government may flatten cycles.

Once you start believing that cycles are not something simply happens to an economy, but are ones that government can make a difference in, this mindset may carry a risk of over-confidence.

The real problems that people have with forecasting is that they tend to look at past accuracy as an indication as to whether or not to follow a forecaster.

Without trying to figure out the reasons behind forecast, investors are probably going to fall for a financial advisor as Walter Friedman explain in the book:

“I think you need to think about forecasts a bit like a treasure maps. In that you always have to be skeptical of the person who would want to print and sell treasure maps on mass. When it’s much better for you to simply keep a treasure map, if you actually have a valid one, and get the treasure yourself. You have to keep in mind that these people are trying to sell their predictions. And that persuasion is as big a part of this industry as prediction is.”

Therefore, having a financial advisor does not make investors exempt from doing research.

 

When the Wind Blows, What Will Be Gone and Fall with It?

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It may be hypocritical of these critics to say that Taiwan has degraded itself by staging protests while they called those in Syria, Tibet, Ukraine and that staged by Falung Gong “fight for democracy.” I just believe Taiwan has gone through the incubation period and is enduring its labor stage.

These movements may be illegal and irrational, but they reflects two things:
1. People do not think they have a place in the political systems and social institutions, even they hold the voting right. This frustration is stoked by the increasing Gini coefficient in Taiwan, indicating the gap between the poor and the rich is widening.
2. As elections are approaching, many interest groups, parties and even individuals will hitch their leverage on these issues, but this does not mean the making of policies will depend on “the direction of the wind is blowing.” The situation will blow over, the momentum may wear off, so do populism and action other than civil disobedience.

Whatever, all these will mark a page in our history, and we should not be the only one to make a judgment call.

Photo credit: AFP

“When the wind blows” by The Economist:http://www.economist.com/node/21601553/email

〈經濟學人:台灣前途恐越來越由街頭決定 〉聯合新聞網
http://udn.com/NEWS/NATIONAL/NATS1/8651531.shtml#ixzz30hYREB7n
Power By udn.com

Why Working Under the Same Roof?

Why Working Under the Same Roof?

If coffee shops are too rowdy and there’s too much activity for you to focus on the work at hand, then you may find the real working mindset in a communal working office space. It is like a library for people with cell phones and a strong desire to meet like-minded people with different background; hence, this style of work offers a solution to the problem of isolation that many freelancers experience while working at home, while at the same time letting them escape the distractions of home.

In an economic sense, early-stage start-ups often cannot afford hefty rents, and their uncertain success makes a long-term lease less desirable.

However, budget is not the only concern at play. The coworking space offers that age-old human connection leading to collaborating with professionals.

What lies behind the growing trend of doing jobs in a coworking space is to actively manage and facilitate presence, as technology allows more people to contribute from around the world. This may have changed the role of place in our work lives.

Amarit Charoenphan completed his degree in accounting from Thammasat University. He helps people realize their dreams and become more successful startups, entrepreneurs, and freelancers through the best coworking spaces, as well as events, education and media. His areas of professional interest include capacity building of start-up social ventures via incubators and accelerator programs, scaling up social enterprise via impact investments as well as the emergence of social venture philanthropy, angel investing and venture capital industry in Thailand. He co-created Hubba, Thailand’s first coworking space for Tech & Creative startups and is actively supporting the Chiang Mai start-up scene through partnership with Pun Space, a coworking space in Chiang Mai. Amarit (and Hubba) has also co-organized and facilitated events such as Echelon Ignite Thailand (e27) and Startup Weekend.

Transcriber: Samson Zhong
Reviewer: Elisabeth Buffard
Language: English

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