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A man from South Africa speaks Sepedi to a Peruvian woman who knows only Quechua, yet they can understand each other. The universal translator is a staple of science fiction, but Google, Meta and others are locked in a battle to get as many languages as possible working with their AI models. Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg announced on Wednesday that his firm now had a block of 200 languages that could be translated into each other, doubling the number in just two years. Meta’s innovation, trumpeted in 2020, was to break the link with English — long a conduit language because of the vast availabil…

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