(CNN) — I want to translate the Web into every major language: every webpage, every video, and, yes, even Justin Bieber’s tweets.
With its content split up into hundreds of languages — and with over 50% of it in English — most of the Web is inaccessible to most people in the world. This problem is pressing, now more than ever, with millions of people from China, Russia, Latin America and other quickly developing regions entering the Web. In this TED talk, I introduce my new project, called Duolingo, which aims at breaking the language barrier, and thus making the Web truly "world wide."
We have all seen how systems such as Google Translate are improving every day at translating the gist of things written in other languages. Unfortunately, they are not yet accurate enough for my purpose: Even when what they spit out is intelligible, it’s so badly written that I can’t read more than a few lines before getting a headache. This is why you don’t see machine-translated articles on CNN.
With Duolingo, our goal is to encourage people, like you and me, to translate the Web into their native languages.
Now, with billions and billions of pages on the Web, this can’t be done with just a few volunteers, nor can we afford to pay professional translators. When Severin Hacker and I started Duolingo, we realized we needed a way to entice millions of people to help translate the Web. However, coordinating millions of contributors to translate language presents two major hurdles. First, finding enough people who are bilingual enough to help with translation is difficult. Second, motivating them to do it for free makes this next to impossible.
The idea behind Duolingo is to kill two birds with one stone . . .