I’m a huge fan of Steven Spielberg’s 2002 science fiction film Minority Report. Starring Tom Cruise as a fugitive police officer, the film is set in a near future Washington, D.C., where technology has overtaken all aspects of society. You’ve got some outlandish things like jetpacks and future predicting clones, but there’s stuff that’s increasingly looking realistic. Along with driverless cars and fully immersive virtual reality, everything operates by retinal scan: your identification is acquired instantly. Even commercials appear on screens targeting you specifically as you walk down the street.
So thoughts of Tom Cruise dodging jetpack-wearing police officers inevitably came to my overly imaginative mind as I read about the UAE Ministry of Justice’s plans this week:
“By 2021, there will be an online dispute resolution mechanism, a 100 per cent smart trial with no courtroom; video conferencing in court hearings; a unified translation centre that will connect translators to secretaries of court and judges via a computer screen; and mediation and conciliation services in criminal justice.”
In a country with as many nationalities speaking as many diverse native tongues as the UAE, the unified translation centre is genius. It will offer real-time translations in court proceedings via a screen. Those proceedings are often confusing to people not used to them, especially expats accustomed to different norms in their home countries. Having such a centre will streamline proceedings and cut down costs. It will reduce potential conflict and confusion in those attending the proceedings. So that got me thinking about what other areas of society could benefit from such a translation centre: municipal buildings, hospitals, airports, shopping centres…the list is endless.
Diversity is the strength of a country like the UAE. The language barrier is the other side of that coin and will always be a challenge, but it’s a challenge that can be overcome and reduced by technology. All you need is the distribution system and the product.
The product is information, and the benefits of more information in a society are incalculable. Along with on location screens, the distribution system is already there in the miniature screens in the hands of the population. That the vast majority of people have smartphones and tablets is a given at this point. Apps specialized for a certain facility or purpose can be downloaded and deliver the information right to the recipient’s language. A bank of translated answers to clients’ queries can be provided instantaneously. Especially in places where people don’t normally go but are vulnerable and in need of information, the results can only be positive.
So even though we’re not quite at retinal scans and crime prediction software, technology is changing our day-to-day lives in creative and innovative ways. I say keep it coming!