I have known this was coming. I did not think it would come this fast.
How do you break down the language barrier and chat with someone in another country when there’s no ‘common’ language between the two parties? Microsoft is building a version of Skype for that will allow real-time translation for voice and video calls. You can watch the video demo though the actual software is expected to become available for Windows 8 later this year.
There’s another option now for people looking to have multi-lingual text chats – Google Sheets. Since two people can work on a Google Sheet simultaneously, it can actually work as a simple chat client. And if you integrate the same sheet with Google Translate – which is easy – the text typed inside Google Sheets can be translated in real-time and automatically (Demo GIF).
The international division of labor will make a quantum leap when this is out of beta.
If it works in Chinese, this will open up a gigantic market for ideas. Once ideas cross borders, there is no way for tariffs to reduce the value of trade by much. Ideas are the currency of the Web. They will not be bottled up linguistically for much longer.
Skype is hard for bureaucrats to monitor. It is not immune, but it is way more immune than a cell phone.
When villagers in China can speak with mentors in America, the Communist Party of China is as good as gone.