Recently, on the eighth floor of a Washington office building, Rachael held her finger down on a Dell Streak touchscreen and asked Aziz whether he knew the village elder.
The handheld tablet beeped as if imitating R2-D2 and then said what sounded like, "Aya tai ahili che dev kali musha." Aziz replied in Pashto, and the Streak said in a monotone: "Yes, I know." Rachael asked: "Would you introduce me to him?" Aziz failed to understand the machine's translation (though he does speak English), so she asked again: "Could you introduce me to the village elder?" This time, there was success, after a fashion. Aziz, via the device, replied: "Yes, I can introduce myself to you." Aziz, who is at most middle-aged and was wearing a sweater vest, was not the village elder.