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World Wide Lexicon - SETI-type distributed computing application
Thread poster: gianfranco

gianfranco  Identity Verified
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Apr 4, 2002

Hot news from http://www.globalisation.news
Distributed program to translate many languages


16:47 02 April 02 (1 day late?)





NewScientist.com news service



A US software designer plans to harness the brains of the world's computer users to build a multilingual translation database. Brian McConnell believes it could provide a free way to translate the many languages not included in existing online translators.



McConnell is releasing a new distributed computer program, which works like programs such as SETI@home. However, while most distributed computer projects make use of spare computer power to perform complex computational tasks, in this case people will be asked to provide short translations themselves.



"It's a clever twist on distributed computing," says McConnell. "In this case the computers are people's brains."



The World Wide Lexicon (WWL) project will need multilingual volunteers to download a software program. This will automatically detect when the computer user is less busy and ask them to translate a word or phrase. However, some experts warn that the system may lack the quality of conventional dictionaries.



There are numerous online translation services for common languages, such as French, German and English, but McConnell says there are very few translators suited to less common languages. He hopes that people who speak more unusual languages will volunteer as translators.





Quality assurance





The first version of the program will be demonstrated at the O'Reilly Emerging Technologies Conference in California in May 2002. But some experts are already unsure about the practicality of the system.



"One of the main problems is quality assurance," says Ramesh Krishnamurthy, a linguistics expert at the University of Wolverhampton, in the UK. "Translation is a highly developed skill."



McConnell concedes that this could be a problem and hopes to develop an automatic system for peer review, to ensure that translations are accurate.



But Paul Rayson, a research fellow at Lancaster University, adds that unskilled translators may confuse the meaning of individual words. "The problem is you generally need the context to get a good translation," he says.





Spider web





To get the WWL database started, McConnell has designed a "spider" program to roam the web and select common words from foreign web sites. These will be sent to relevant volunteers for translation. Translations will be uploaded to one of a number of different servers, which will spread the information to other servers. The numerous servers should give the system more stability.



The next stage begins when a sufficiently large word database has been built. Users will then be able to download another client program and search these servers for different words. Words that are not found will be sent to volunteers for translation.



The WWL has been designed using the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP). McConnell says this should make it possible to integrate the client software into other computer applications. He hopes that other software developers will make use of the translation network, as an add-on to web browsers, for example.



Will Knight



This story is from NewScientist.com's news service - for more exclusive news and expert analysis every week subscribe to New Scientist print edition.





It is true. Honest!

I found it in:

http://www.globalization.com/newsIndex.cfm?newsID=news57701040420020



Gianfranco




[Edited at 2003-09-17 08:41]


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 03:55
German to English
+ ...
Don't worry! Apr 4, 2002

As I have said many times, machines and computers, no matter how sophisticated they may be, will never be able to do a human brain\'s work: reading between the lines, catching all the nuances and different shades, etc.



Language is a very intuitive matter; machines don\'t have intuition (and they never will).



Admittedly, some of these machine products may work reasonably well for certain types of text (e.g., spec sheets), but overall, human translators will never be out of work!



For a good example of how machines can mess up languages, go to: http://www.tashian.com/multibabel/


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Ursula Peter-Czichi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:55
German to English
+ ...
Das Sonne ist scheinend! Apr 4, 2002

Three years ago, I was very concerned about MT, to say the least. OK! I was paranoid and tried a few websites:

I did not ask much! MS translation service (no longer at the site), I challenged with:

\"The sun is shining.\" Result? Please, see the heading, \"Das Sonne ist scheinend.\"



Just now, for the fun of it, I typed something similar:

\"The sun is out today.\"

Babylized, translated to French and then back to English:

\"The sun is outside today.\"

(Don\'t you think that\'s very comforting!}

Everything after that piece of fun:

\"cannot translate...\"

I am sure, anyone of us can!



Here is another example. It is one of the easiest sentences from my last translation job.



Original English Text:

No picoline was found.



Translated to French:

Aucune picoline n\'a été trouvée.



Translated back to English:

could not translate



Translated to German:

konnte nicht übersetzen



Translated back to English:

could not translate



Translated to Italian:

non ha potuto tradurre



Translated back to English:

it has not been able translate



Translated to Portuguese:

não pôde traduz



Translated back to English:

it could not translates

(now this last one is very interesting...)



Computers can actually be \"taught\" to make logical decisions. However, those techniques are still in their infancy.




So: Das Sonne ist immer noch scheinend fuer Uebersetzer/The sun is still outside for translators.



Before anyone gets too concerned, do try the site:

http://home.cwru.edu/cgi-bin/multibabel



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Dyran Altenburg  Identity Verified
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Local time: 03:55
English to Spanish
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Thinking Machines are Impossible... Not! Apr 4, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-04-04 19:46, AbacusTrans wrote:

Language is a very intuitive matter; machines don\'t have intuition (and they never will).





There\'s no reason to believe a machine will never think the way we do.



You could even describe our brains as extremely sophisticated processors based on bio-chemical interactions.



The fact that we don\'t know yet how to re-create something similar in a machine doesn\'t mean it can\'t be done.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-04 21:53 ]

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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 03:55
German to English
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Oh yeah? Apr 4, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-04-04 21:52, Dyran wrote:

Quote:


On 2002-04-04 19:46, AbacusTrans wrote:

Language is a very intuitive matter; machines don\'t have intuition (and they never will).





There\'s no reason to believe a machine will never think the way we do.



You could even describe our brains as extremely sophisticated processors based on bio-chemical interactions.



The fact that we don\'t know yet how to re-create something similar in a machine doesn\'t mean it can\'t be done.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-04 21:53 ]





So, how would you go about programming feelings, emotions, moods, intuition, etc. Scientists don\'t even know how all these things work in humans!



Unless you become Dr. Frankenstein and build a human being from scratch (out of flesh and blood), you\'ll never be able to achieve the same result.



So, in short, don\'t worry about machines! But I do worry about people who put too much store by computers and machines.

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Dyran Altenburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:55
English to Spanish
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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Apr 4, 2002

Quote:


So, how would you go about programming feelings, emotions, moods, intuition, etc. Scientists don\'t even know how all these things work in humans!





The operating word here is they don\'t know *yet*.



Quote:


Unless you become Dr. Frankenstein and build a human being from scratch (out of flesh and blood), you\'ll never be able to achieve the same result.





So where did you buy your crystal ball?



Seriously, the \"impossibility\" argument is a classic straw-man.



Quote:


So, in short, don\'t worry about machines! But I do worry about people who put too much store by computers and machines.





Like serious scientists?



Perhaps you might want to take a closer look at what is being done.



As to worrying, I don\'t. Fortunately, translation is not the only low-stress and profitable thing I know how to do well.





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Hans-Henning Judek  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:55
German to English
+ ...
No worries .... for the time being Apr 4, 2002

The result first - machine translations are still light years away, but they will come one day, at least with a quality that can be rewritten easily by a human.



Machines have taken over part of our job already. All that standard-stuff like \"Tighten the bolt to the specified torque.\" can be done efficiently by machines. But when it comes to more complicated matters....



I just had to deliver a 100,000 terms dictionary for a machine translation program from Japanese into various languages. The job was eye opening!



The base of the job was a machine translation, and I was supposed to \"rewrite\" it. So look what I got:

hot spring village - heißes Frühlingsdorf - Dorf mit heißer Quelle

trade representation - Geschäftsdarstellung - Handelsrepräsentant

spear carrier - Stangenfördermaschine - Speerträger

capital flight - Hauptflug - Kapitalflucht



The funny thing was that the \"translations\" all made sense in their details, but the combination was totally off. The reason is the strength of the machine in producing consistent results, which is a weakness on the other hand.



We make use of the ability - which is by the way also the human translator\'s weakness - nowadays in TMs and CAT programs to balance our brain\'s deficiencies. Who ever translated a big manual with thousands of terms, knows how difficult it is without TM to translate the same term always the same way, namely if you get just printouts and no data.



So our strength is to think fuzzy, because language is a very fuzzy matter, which developed over centuries in a disorganized, unplanned manner. I doubt that machines will be able to make all the associations and evaluations, our brain does by experience, taking short cuts and analyzing various fuzzy possibilities in the near future.



So at least our generation will be safe.







[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-04 22:18 ]


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 03:55
German to English
+ ...
Comments Apr 4, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-04-04 22:16, JE-Access wrote:

The result first - machine translations are still light years away, but they will come one day, at least with a quality that can be rewritten easily by a human.




\"Easily\" - that\'s in the beholder\'s eye. The end product (and that goes for any translation that requires heavy-duty editing and proofreading) will still be shoddy and inconsistent.



Quote:




Machines have taken over part of our job already. All that standard-stuff like \"Tighten the bolt to the specified torque.\" can be done efficiently by machines. But when it comes to more complicated matters....




Exactly!



Quote:




The funny thing was that the \"translations\" all made sense in their details, but the combination was totally off. The reason is the strength of the machine in producing consistent results, which is a weakness on the other hand.




And making such associations is something that only living, breathing human beings can do (remember: the \"mind\" is more than just the brain and all its neurons, etc.! IOW, the \"mind\" can never be programmed into a machine.).



Quote:


So our strength is to think fuzzy, because language is a very fuzzy matter, which developed over centuries in a disorganized, unplanned manner. I doubt that machines will be able to make all the associations and evaluations, our brain does by experience, taking short cuts and analyzing various fuzzy possibilities in the near future.



So at least our generation will be safe.





Again: exactly! But it is not our generation, but the next 100, 200, ... generations as well (if this planet is still around then)!



As for Dyran: there are also \"serious scientists\" dealing with UFOs, paranormal phenomena, etc. The fact that \"serious scientists\" work on a certain subject matter does not mean that the subject matter is accorded greater importance or \"feasibility\".



As far as our future as human translators is concerned, we don\'t have anything to fear from MT; the greater problem is posed by people who blindly put their trust and faith in it and start extolling its feasibility (however unlikely), thus bringing our own profession down to a lower level: the more clients or others hear such stories (IMHO, malaria-induced, feverish dreams), the more they will think that a) translators are nothing special and b) they don\'t have to pay reasonable rates (\"We\'ll have our program translate the document and then hand it off to a translator to edit it - for half a cent per word.\")

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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 03:55
SITE FOUNDER
interesting project - but it has nothing to do with machine translation Apr 5, 2002

The goal of this project seems to be to build a lexicon. For translation the program relies on humans. Developing the ability to do what the humans do does not seem to be among the objectives of the program. It is a \"lexicon\".



Still, pretty interesting.


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Dyran Altenburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:55
English to Spanish
+ ...
Neural Networks Anyone? Apr 5, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-04-04 23:24, AbacusTrans wrote:

The end product (and that goes for any translation that requires heavy-duty editing and proofreading) will still be shoddy and inconsistent.



It\'s amazing that you have so little regard for human ingenuity.



Quote:


And making such associations is something that only living, breathing human beings can do (remember: the \"mind\" is more than just the brain and all its neurons, etc.!



What exactly is there in the mind that goes beyond bio-chemical interactions?



Surely you don\'t mean a... *gasp* *shudder* ...\"soul\"!? (Speaking of far-fetched ideas).



Quote:


IOW, the \"mind\" can never be programmed into a machine.)



And still you won\'t tell us where you got that crystal ball.



I was kind of hoping you\'d have the results for the lotto too, you know?



Quote:


As for Dyran: there are also \"serious scientists\" dealing with UFOs, paranormal phenomena, etc.



You mean the ones debunking them? Sure there are!



Quote:


The fact that \"serious scientists\" work on a certain subject matter does not mean that the subject matter is accorded greater importance or \"feasibility\".



So let me get this straight. Things are impossible based solely on what people believe? Without further analysis or proof? You just neet to say it won\'t happen and it won\'t?



Quote:


As far as our future as human translators is concerned, we don\'t have anything to fear from MT; the greater problem is posed by people who blindly put their trust and faith in it and start extolling its feasibility (however unlikely), thus bringing our own profession down to a lower level: the more clients or others hear such stories (IMHO, malaria-induced, feverish dreams)



But of course! Let\'s cancel all research and ban scientific investigation. Let\'s also do without rationality and critical thinking while we\'re at it.



What we really need to do is concentrate real hard and try to wish away all those awful inventions that threaten our livelihood.



C\'mon people! The sky is falling! All together now! Hummmmmmmmmmmmm....

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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 03:55
German to English
+ ...
Reply to Dyran Apr 5, 2002

The operative word was \"blindly\" - and I rest my case! Thank you!



Besides, it is people who blindly believe in the \"power of MT, CAT, etc.\" that are the most worried about the \"sky falling\".



As a translator with many years in the business, you really ought to know that translation involves so many different things (things we are not even aware of) at so many different levels that it is impossible to program machines that way (or are you trying to make us believe that machines could be programmed to fall in love too?).



If you truly believe that the day will come when machines can think and feel like humans, then, perhaps, you should consider a career change - because it would tell me that you have missed out on a lot. \"Selling out\" to the idea of machines ever being able to take over from us (as translators) is not something I would expect from translators with several years under their belts (not you, but in general).

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-05 01:34 ]


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Dyran Altenburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:55
English to Spanish
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Agree Apr 5, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-04-05 01:00, AbacusTrans wrote:

The operative word was \"blindly\" - and I rest my case! Thank you!





By all means, let\'s put it to rest.



The poor thing has had enough already.





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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 03:55
German to English
+ ...
Now, I can agree with you Apr 5, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-04-05 01:06, Dyran wrote:



By all means, let\'s put it to rest.



The poor thing has had enough already.











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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 09:55
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
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MODERATOR
Thanks Werner for giving us this Apr 5, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-04-04 19:46, AbacusTrans wrote:



For a good example of how machines can mess up languages, go to: http://www.tashian.com/multibabel/





I tried it:



Swedes always try to reach consensus.



What I got (to French and back to English):



Of the Swedetest always the end to take with the agreement.



etc. etc.



Das Sonne ist really scheinen auf us tranzlatorz!



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Guido Dalla Fontana
Local time: 09:55
English to Italian
Werner's faulty crystal ball Apr 5, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-04-04 23:24, AbacusTrans wrote:

Again: exactly! But it is not our generation, but the next 100, 200, ... generations as well (if this planet is still around then)!





Try to open your mind and imagine yourself living, say, 100 years ago. Following your reasoning, would you have considered possible any of the following things:



1) Men walking on the moon

2) Nuclear energy (and everything that comes with it)

3) TV

4) Computers

5) Biotech (and we haven\'t seen anything yet)



These are just a few examples, and I\'m talking about *one hundred* years; if you lived 200 years ago probably you would have considered impossible flying, photography, radio, telephone, and the like. And again, it would be just 200 years, something hardly comparable with your 50 or 100 generations (not to mention the remark about the planet still being around).

Being a little humbler would do a lot of good to yourself and to your public image, and I\'m not talking just about this thread.



Ciao



Guido

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