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Ask Julia: Why Doesn’t Earth Have Universal Translators?

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By Julia Crumpleman

Greetings once again, fellow New Romforders!  Today’s question comes from Omoye in Cloonyn.

Hi, whenever aliens come to Earth, they’re always wearing universal translators.  They’re able to speak to us in our language, and the humans with them wear those things, too.  They seem really useful for aliens, but why don’t we have those on Earth?  They’d be a lot of help!

Omoye, you’re onto something here!  Just speaking for myself, I’d love to have a universal translator so I could travel more without the fear of being misunderstood.  Also, I wouldn’t have to try and learn a new language.  But to your question, I had to ask an alien communications expert.  Luckily, we have a few here in town.

“It’s largely a matter of politics,” said Randy Newman (not the singer-songwriter), who works at city hall as the city’s alien liaison.  “Most Earth governments are wary of using alien technology, especially after the Jrats attacked in 1983.  They presented themselves as allies and look what happened in Chicago.  Even though some technologies like nanotechnology, smart phones, and Crocs have certainly benefited human lives, it comes down in trickles.  It has to go through so much red tape before it can even really be used by research labs and companies.”

“And that’s not even talking about the brain wave manipulation.  That really freaks people out.”

Universal translators, at least the ones humans have come across, have to manipulate the user’s brain waves in order to translate a foreign language into one the user knows.  “This is no small feat, mind you,” said Eva Broadstone, a language expert at ATOM Labs.  “Your ears catch sound waves and transmit them to your brain, and your brain, in essence, translates those sounds into meaningful speech.  Universal translators intercept your brain waves as they start to interpret speech and alter them, turning them into your native language, which is another process in itself.  It’s a complicated process.”

The latest NRU poll from last year showed that 65% of humans are distrustful of aliens and their technology, and a whopping 84% didn’t want their brain waves altered by aliens either.  While universal translators can’t mind control someone, for instance, gaining the trust of the general public is the biggest hurdle to bringing these amazing devices to Earth.

Sorry, Omoye!