Malagasy culture/history on Malagasy Wikipedia

Unlike English, French or Chinese, Malagasy is practically unused as a medium of international communication. And those foreigners who have a good command of Malagasy are interested in the national culture much, much more than the average Joe; or have acquired it as part of a very specific training to eventually spread Christianity in Madagascar. Thus it is more than justified to center our interest on Malagasy culture on one hand, specifically because a lot of the upper class people in Madagascar have been schooled in international schools and thus tend to ignore the very culture of the country they live in, or at least not to give it as much weight as it deserves.

That might seem very inward-looking in our vision of the sum of human knowledge, but our culture is poorly documented especially online (and surprisingly even more so in its original language) as most of it is done through oral transmission, thus in that regard there truly is a deadline.

While on the other hand, popular culture, science and technology can always be translated from English or French, and doing so correctly requires special vocabulary knowledge which the average Rakoto doesn’t always have, and written resources to mitigate that lack of knowledge are rare.

Malagasy on Wiktionary

Following a discussion that had been made on Wikimedia Metawiki (which is basically a wiki to talk about other wikis), the Malagasy Wiktionary was targeted by a so-called “small-wiki audit” which aims to assess, as it names implies, the quality of the content in a small wiki. What is meant by “small” here is the community. I used to be the only contributor there, and made a very extensive use of bots to fill the wiki with as much content as possible. I had done so by implementing a parser coupled with a basic machine translation engine.

The effort was spread over 8 years, and a lot of mistakes were made in the process. The conclusion of the discussion was that all the content with the exception of already-created Malagasy were going to be deleted. Such deletion was mostly complete by 2021.

In the meantime, NLLB (for No Language Left Behind) — a project by Meta (Facebook), which is a new technology for machine translation targeted at lesser-documented languages — was published and I swiftly adopted such technology to create foreign-language entries, with supervision.

On Artificial Intelligence

Since the end of year 2022, generative AI has been the hottest topic in the tech world since the first iPhone and the smartphone revolution that ensued. The public has been mostly hyped by the impressive capacity by Stable Diffusion to generate images in seconds where a commissioned artist would take days, or OpenAI’s ChatGPT ability to respond to users’ questions and to compose prose in seconds where poets or compositors would also have taken days. ChatGPT has changed the tech world quite a lot since 2022 where it was made publicly available.

Generative AIs power an ever-increasing panel of apps and aims to commoditize drawings, paintings, and images by taking in a prompt and outputting an image. In addition to it’s closed-source nature, the sheer size of the model (176 billion) makes it impractical to be run on commodity hardware.

Unfortunately, I have the impression that ChatGPT has been dumbed-down I think by an ever-increasing amount of rules on sensitive topics it’s not allowed to give a decisive answer on. Following this, I’ve been more attentive to its small competitors like LLaMA and other models that I won’t name here that could run on a beefed-up laptop (for what it’s worth, the one I’m currently using now has 48GB or RAM) and can run without limitations on controversial topics.

It is said that the human brain has between 150,000 to 300,000 billion synapses, and we could need a similar number of “parameters” to achieve something that looks like a whole-brain emulation (WBE). The current GPT-3 is 3 orders of magnitude below that number. Given the current trend which is to gain 2 orders of magnitude every 2 years, we could bet on WBE being practical by the end of the decade. Fantastic times await ahead!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *