Microsoft’s global language: Beta version 1.0

NEW YORK (U-WIRE) — Bill Gates is the richest man in the world. He has grown so wealthy that he has immodestly installed a billboard outside of his home: “Billions and billions made!” He is the man who has brought the world things like Microsoft and practically every other technological innovation since the cotton gin. I certainly wouldn’t think this man — this seemingly immortal being — to be an idiot. But alas, Bill Gates keeps opening his damn mouth.
First, there was the whole monopoly controversy last year. Bill said that Microsoft does not have a monopoly over the computer industry. Well, Bill, if you would poll the average American today, he or she would probably think that LINUX was the latest probe sent to Mars and that Netscape is what Monet painted. You have a monopoly. The courts have proven it.
But now, he has confirmed his geeky ignorance with a recent statement he made in Melbourne, Australia. The statement was made to Asian nations, specifically China. The message: “Welcome to the Internet: Now speak English.”
According to the Associated Press, China will have the largest online population in less than 10 years. But in spite of this, until machine translation shows up, it’s very likely that English will be used, Gates said. To be polite, this is an idiotic idea on Bill’s part. Not that his company needs any more money, but to isolate the language of the Internet to English excludes billions of potential customers. Not only that, it inhibits the ever-flourishing world of e-commerce, as well as various forms of communication that could benefit international relations, especially from a sociopolitical standpoint. Countries could work toward a better understanding of each other and maybe make advances in science, entertainment, even world peace — together.
Gates’ statement, however, sounds like something out of 1950s McCarthyism — Don’t let the Reds know of our latest technology! Simply put, it’s bigoted and outdated. Gates sounds like he has no regrets about the lack of technology for Far East and Southeast Asian nations. And when Bill Gates doesn’t care, computers don’t care. And when computers don’t care, we Internet surfers are left in the dark. The “World Wide” Web now takes on a twisted tinge of irony, doesn’t it?
If Microsoft has the technology to produce new super-computers fast enough to antiquate last week’s computers, then I highly doubt that there is no way to include the Asian languages, not only within the country itself, but also translated when posted worldwide. Now that would be software that could be beneficial to everyone across the world. With all due respect for software developers, if they could put half the energy into this translation project as they do into something like “Tomb Raider,” countries would have the capacity to communicate in each other’s languages, technically speaking, in no time at all.
But for the time being, Gates’ word is law. And until that voice recognition translator is created (which Gates predicts being more than a decade away from development), half the world will be left out in the cold, which speaks very poorly for the technology that was supposed to unite the “Free World.” For Bill Gates to cut off most of Asia from “the language of the Internet” is tunnel-sighted, poor business sense and bad karma in general — although I doubt Bill even knows what karma is.

Steve Luber’s column originally appeared in New York University’s Washington Square News on Sept. 18. Send comments to [email protected]