"Across cultures, English is the word": What is future of translation?
Thread poster: Lubain Masum

Lubain Masum  Identity Verified
Bangladesh
Local time: 20:58
Member (2006)
English to Bengali
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Apr 10, 2007

Hi everybody

I have read the following article/report and thought that it might be useful and relevant to share it with you. Given the arguments of the article, what you do think would be future of our profession? Are we the last generation of translators? What is the influence of English in your country? The state of English in my country, Bangladesh, truly reflects the opinions given in this report.

Across cultures, English is the word
By Seth Mydans
Monday, April 9, 2007
International Herald Tribune

SINGAPORE: Riding the crest of globalization and technology, English dominates the world as no language ever has, and some linguists are now saying it may never be dethroned as the king of languages.

Others see pitfalls, but the factors they cite only underscore the grip English has on the world: cataclysms like nuclear war or climate change or the eventual perfection of a translation machine that would make a common language unnecessary.

Some insist that linguistic evolution will continue to take its course over the centuries and that English could eventually die as a common language as Latin did, or Phoenician or Sanskrit or Sogdian before it.

"If you stay in the mind-set of 15th-century Europe, the future of Latin is extremely bright," said Nicholas Ostler, the author of a language history called "Empires of the Word" who is writing a history of Latin. "If you stay in the mind-set of the 20th-century world, the future of English is extremely bright."

That skepticism seems to be a minority view. Experts on the English language like David Crystal, author of "English as a Global Language," say the world has changed so drastically that history is no longer a guide.

"This is the first time we actually have a language spoken genuinely globally by every country in the world," he said. "There are no precedents to help us see what will happen."

John McWhorter, a linguist at the Manhattan Institute, a research group in New York, and the author of a history of language called "The Power of Babel," was more unequivocal.

"English is dominant in a way that no language has ever been before," he said. "It is vastly unclear to me what actual mechanism could uproot English given conditions as they are."

As a new millennium begins, scholars say that about one-fourth of the world's population can communicate to some degree in English.

It is the common language in almost every endeavor, from science to air traffic control to the global jihad, where it is apparently the means of communication between speakers of Arabic and other languages.

It has consolidated its dominance as the language of the Internet, where 80 percent of the world's electronically stored information is in English, according to David Graddol, a linguist and researcher.

There may be more native speakers of Chinese, Spanish or Hindi, but it is English they speak when they talk across cultures, and English they teach their children to help them become citizens of an increasingly intertwined world.

At telephone call centers around the world, the emblem of a globalized workplace, the language spoken is, naturally, English. On the radio, pop music carries the sounds of English to almost every corner of the earth.

"English has become the second language of everybody," said Mark Warschauer, a professor of education and informatics at the University of California, Irvine. "It's gotten to the point where almost in any part of the world to be educated means to know English."

In some places, he said, English has invaded the workplace along with the global economy. Some Swedish companies, for example, use English within the workplace, even though they are in Sweden, because so much of their business is done, through the Internet and other communcations, with the outside world.

As English continues to spread, the linguists say, it is fragmenting, as Latin did, into a family of dialects - and perhaps eventually fully fledged languages - known as Englishes.

New vernaculars have emerged in such places as Singapore, Nigeria and the Caribbean, although widespread literacy and mass communication may be slowing the natural process of diversification.

The pidgin of Papua New Guinea already has its own literature and translations of Shakespeare. One enterprising scholar has translated "Don Quixote" into Spanglish, the hybrid of English and Spanish that is spoken along the borders of Mexico and the United States.

But unlike Latin and other former common languages, most scholars say English seems to be too widespread and too deeply entrenched to die out. Instead, it is likely to survive in some simplified international form - sometimes called Globish or World Standard Spoken English - side by side with its offspring.

"You have too many words in English," said Jean-Paul Nerrière, a retired vice president of IBM USA, who is French. He has proposed his own version of Globish that would have just 15,000 simple words for use by nonnative speakers.

"We are a majority," Nerrière said, "so our way of speaking English should be the official way of speaking English."

As a simplified form of global English emerges, the diverging forms spoken in Britain and America could become no more than local dialects - two more Englishes alongside the Singlish spoken in Singapore or the Taglish spoken in the Philippines. A native speaker of English might need to become bilingual in his own language to converse with other speakers of global English.

"We may well be approaching a critical moment in human linguistic history," Crystal wrote. "It is possible that a global language will emerge only once."

After that, Crystal said, it would be very hard to dislodge. "The last quarter of the 20th century will be seen as a critical time in the emergence of this global language," he said.

English and globalization have spread hand in hand through the world, Warschauer said. "Having a global language has assisted globalization, and globalization has consolidated the global language," he said. That process started with the dominance of two successive English-speaking empires, British and American, and continues today with the new virtual empire of the Internet.

Although Chinese and other languages are rapidly increasing their share of Internet traffic, English is likely to remain the common language, experts say.

"Estonian has an amazing Web presence," McWhorter said. But when Estonians speak on the Internet with people outside their small country, they will continue to use English.

In a phenomenon never seen before, Crystal said, English is spoken in some form by three times as many nonnative speakers as native speakers.

The teaching of English has become a multibillion-dollar industry, and according to Graddol, nearly one-third of the world's population will soon be studying English.

By the most common estimates, 400 million people speak English as a first language, another 300 million to 500 million as a fluent second language, and perhaps 750 million as a foreign language.

The largest English-speaking nation in the world, the United States, has only about 20 percent of the world's English speakers. In Asia alone, an estimated 350 million people speak English, about the same as the combined English-speaking populations of Britain, the United States and Canada.

Thus the English language no longer "belongs" to its native speakers but to the world, just as organized soccer, say, is an international sport that is no longer associated with its origins in Britain.

Two years ago for the first time, a nonnative English speaker, Jun Liu of China, was elected president of the global education association Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, known as Tesol.

Even if English were somehow to collapse as the language of its birthplace, England, Crystal said, it would continue its worldwide dominance unperturbed.

A recent study found that the Queen's English - the language as spoken by the queen of England - has evolved over the past 50 years, becoming slightly less plummy and slightly more proletarian. But the future evolution of the language, scholars say, is more likely to belong to the broken-English speakers of far-off lands.

"The people who were once colonized by the language are now rapidly remaking it, domesticating it, becoming more and more relaxed about the way they use it," wrote the Indian author Salman Rushdie in an essay in 1991.

But in the end, Ostler said, all of this could become moot. The advance of technology that helped push English into its commanding position could pull it down again.

*** (Asterisk by the poster) Though it still sounds like science fiction, it seems likely that some time, many decades from now, a machine will be perfected that can produce Urdu when it hears someone speaking German. *** (Asterisk by the poster)

"With progress, the problem of machine translation and automatic interpreting is going to be solved," Ostler said, "and the need for a common language is going to be technically replaced."

Tomorrow: The world's top universities are shifting into English, but the move is not without its difficulties, for faculty and students.


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Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:58
German to English
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How English is English? Apr 10, 2007

The article leans strongly towards technoromanticism in my view.

It is probably true that English plays a leading role amongst world languages, and you can "get by" in English in most parts of the world (although in other areas you would do better with Spanish, Chinese or Russian).

But what English do people really understand? In a recent study on advertising slogans in Germany, a large proportion of respondents thought the slogan "Come in and find out" meant that it was easy to find the way out of the shop after you had entered it. (i.e. they took "find out" to mean "find the way out").

There is an enormous difference between knowing some English and understanding the finer points of the language (and being able to express them in good English). I get a lot of my work from German solicitors who have an excellent knowledge of English, and many of them have legal qualifications from English-speaking countries, but they still ask me to translate their contracts etc. into English.
The same principle applies to technical manuals - it is important that they are translated (or written) by someone who really knows how to express things properly in the target language.

It is interesting (and amusing!) to observe the development of technoromanticism that is associated with the spread of global English and the development of machine translation. Global English and MT can help to facilitate communication at a basic level, but it is important to recognise that they are both limited - and they will remain limited in our lifetime.

The technoromantics dream of controlling the tangible world, and even overcoming language barriers by technical and educational means.
How fascinating! History repeats itself!
"Let us build a tower that reaches up to the sky!" said the inhabitants of Babel many hundreds of years ago. It was a time of exciting technical progress, a time of new construction methods with a revolutionary durability. And yet, we now remember that era for a different reason - as a time when people lost the ability to communicate with each other, an age in which words and grammatical forms lost their agreed meanings.
I wonder how historians will look back on the linguistic dreams of our present age!

[Edited at 2007-04-10 22:01]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 16:58
Member (2003)
Danish to English
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Global English is not anybody's native language. Apr 11, 2007

Aurora Humarán explained extremely well in a discussion in another forum: She said "I can think in several languages, but I only feel in Spanish."

I already work quite consciously with two languages that I call English. I am often asked to translate texts for companies that use English as the common language or corporate language. Even then, I need to know where in the world the text will be used. English is 'falling apart' into many different dialects. It is not possible to write English that 'everyone' can understand, except at a very basic level.

If I am writing for a British target group, I can allow myself the luxury of using expressions that might be misunderstood anywhere else. That is my native language, for me the real English, that I 'feel' in.

I have read 'English as a Global Language' too - some time ago - but I think these quotes are only half of what David Crystal is saying.
I have recently been reading another of his books - 'The Fight for English' - that traces it back hundreds of years, and he argues that in fact it never has been a unified language. Northern English dialects are very different from southern ones, and that is before you get out of the British Isles. There were attemtps to standardise the written language when printing was invented, but have never really merged completely.

The Microsoft spell-checker has a ridiculous number of varieties of English before you get to the United Kingdom and United States at the bottom of the list as the last options! I cannot use the default US English, so I have macros to set the language on my computer when I change from source to target and back.

Tom McArthur (a native of Scotland) has written another interesting book called 'The English Languages'. It is some time since I read it, but that too discusses the dialects and creoles that have developed round the world. Many people who speak their local variety of English cannot understand those who speak a variety from another part of the world.

Written English may be more standardised, but there are still many traps and pitfalls.

English is stil being 'invented' round the globe too. There is a flourishing dialect, or maybe several, here in Denmark, where 'everyone speaks English', but some of it is in fact Danish thoughts and syntax with English vocabulary. It is quite a sport among young people, but although the words are English, it may be extremely difficult to explain to my friends in England what they mean!

The same is sure to be going on everywhere else too. I am sometimes asked to proof read the Swedish variety or the Danish one - and it is far more difficult than translating from a good Danish or Swedish source text. The spelling and grammar may be excellent, but it is simply not clear what is actually meant. I often refuse to do it, and just as often regret taking on a job that looked fine at first glance.

Scandinavians are good at English, and at languages in general, but if they really want to communicate, they need to speak at least one side's native language.

We are going to need translators for many centuries to come. The translating machine is a fallacy, because languages develop at an amazing speed. It would be impossible, even if the machine could be made and programmed, to keep it up to date. Far easier simply to use human translators in fact.

I will not be here in a hundred years' time, but I bet if I could look in I would see Proz.com flourishing in some form or other and translators as busy as ever.

Happy translating, folks!


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JonathanBrown
Local time: 17:58
English to Finnish
+ ...
Machine Translation of the future Apr 18, 2007

In reply to Mrs. Andersen's claim that machine translation is a fallacy:

"The translating machine is a fallacy, because languages develop at an amazing speed. It would be impossible, even if the machine could be made and programmed, to keep it up to date. Far easier simply to use human translators in fact."

This statement is not true, and it contains serious misconceptions of artificial intelligence, and what is meant in the original article on the topic of a Universal Translator (UT).

First of all, we need to understand what a machine translator of natural, human, languages would require in a computational sense. If you had a machine with an equal capacity to a human, skilled in languages A and B, then you would have a machine that could translate from A to B, and B to A. Mrs. Anderson seems to have the misconception that a machine translator would be something less than a thinking machine, which most certainly is not the case. I think this misconception is seeded by the fact that contemporary efforts at machine translation, especially the ones that normal people have witnessed, are so incredibly poor. If you had a real UT machine, you would need it to be able to do all the same types of processing tasks that humans can do in order to translate text correctly, and that includes learning new things. And this is key: the ability of such a machine (a sentient program, in effect) to learn new things means that the pace at which languages develop would present no challenge at all to this machine. It would simply do precisely what human translators do: update its language skills with the newest information available by reading, speaking with people and other sentient programs, and perhaps writing articles for online translator websites, or whatever people of the distant future do to stay proficient in languages they know. (See 'Artificial Intelligence', Wikipedia)

It's important to realize that a machine translator would need to be a sentient program to function as effectively as a human. Translation involves information about meaning, and that means you have to give the machine the ability to think about the meaning of the text it needs to translate. Sentient, thinking machines are the holy grail of machine translation, just as they are a panacea to many other fields of endeavor. The world will be a radically different place when this technology happens. (See 'Singularitarianism', Wikipedia)

Now the next point of debate might be to actually discuss whether thinking machines are possible. As a computer scientist, I say: Absolutely. I base my certainty on the mathematical concepts of computational complexity, and a belief that there is nothing special or mystical about the human brain in terms of that computational ability. So what I'm saying is that, given enough computing power, and enough research into artificial intelligence, crossing the threshold of sentience, and then even surpassing the ability of the human brain, is only a matter of time. It may be a little bit more time than some optimists are saying, but I am unphased by a century or two, or even a millennium or two: it's going to happen. (See 'Machine-state functionalism' and others, Wikipedia)

Read Douglas Hofstadter's famous, and highly entertaining book: Gödel, Escher, Bach.. I think you may gain a new outlook on the subject.


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Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:58
German to English
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Belief in bits and bytes? Apr 19, 2007

JonathanBrown wrote:
Now the next point of debate might be to actually discuss whether thinking machines are possible. As a computer scientist, I say: Absolutely. I base my certainty on the mathematical concepts of computational complexity, and a belief that there is nothing special or mystical about the human brain in terms of that computational ability.


The key word here is 18 words from the end of the above quote: BELIEF.
My BELIEF about the human brain happens to be different.

Specualations about intelligent and sentient machines, voting rights for computers, working conditions for computers (with anti-discrimination rights for Mac/Linux/Windows?) and other similar topics are all very well in science fiction, but I'm afraid I regard them as a latter-day romanticism.

Religious debate anyone?
(Sorry, the ProZ rules do not allow us to pass this point.)


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JonathanBrown
Local time: 17:58
English to Finnish
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Machine translation and the human brain Apr 22, 2007

Victor Dewsbery wrote:
The key word here is 18 words from the end of the above quote: BELIEF.


Come now, let's not be petty. In this case the word 'belief' is more of a rhetoric device. Considering the rest of my post, one can't possibly be under the impression that I'm operating under nothing but blind faith, which is what your reply insinuates. Especially since I'm listing my sources. I've read the sources, and I find them convincing. That is the core of my previous post.

Victor Dewsbery wrote:
My BELIEF about the human brain happens to be different.


So what you are saying is that there is something about the human brain that makes it special, special in a way that constructing an identical capacity to understand meanings from, say, text, and translate those meanings from one natural language into another is impossible. And you're also saying that not only is it impossible with current technology, it's impossible given any amount of progress in artificial intelligence research, and any amount of increase in computing power available to the human race.

I find your claim to be far, far more extravagant than mine.

There certainly is literature in favor of your position that machine sentience is somehow fundamentally impossible, however, to the discredit of your argument, you are not in any way referencing it, nor addressing its relationship to the sources I am referencing, nor discrediting the sources I have presented. This is not the stuff of a successful debate strategy.

There is a wide body of literature to support the notion that brains of all kinds found throughout the animal kingdom have both structural (made of neurons) and functional (e.g. can make decisions based on sensory input) similarities. These similarities naturally lead to the notion that you could put brains onto a continuos spectrum based on complexity, say a clam at one end of the scale, and humans at the other. I find it an incredibly "special" claim that humans are somehow "off the chart" in some way, such that no amount of computing power, no amount of software sophistication could duplicate what a human brain can do. Especially since it's not hard to imagine that one should easily be able to program a modern computer to perform all the tasks that a clam brain does.

Victor Dewsbery wrote:
Religious debate anyone?


It's not really a matter of religion, it's a matter of science. Firstly, just because it hasn't been proven yet one way or the other doesn't mean it's not possible to usefully employ rational scientific study to unlock its secrets. Artificial intelligence should present no exception to this concept. And just because science fiction writers talk about something that is not yet reality doesn't mean that they are somehow less likely to actually come true some day. You seem to be insinuating both.

In a way, you could say that it's much more likely that the future will prove me to be correct than you: simple logic will tell you that it's easy to disprove those who say something is impossible; simply do it. However, those who say something is possible are much harder to prove wrong, since the scope of human knowledge might not contain the required understanding yet. How callous it was for people to say that human flight, instant cross-global communication, or understanding the genetic code was not possible.


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wikimar
Local time: 16:58
English to Polish
How to teach a machine to make snappy. good choices? Apr 22, 2007

We feel almost intimidated to begin our Proz.com activity by taking up such serious matter - forgive any blunders, and: welcome everybody

It seems to us that whatever time is spent on preparing, assembling and "teaching" machines in the field of translation or interpreting, a crucial area - that of decision-making - will still be underdeveloped. The technology we have now is already quite advanced, but it still requires human presence. A good analogy here has been given by Norbert Wiener, a cybernetics Pioneer. As he was working on an anti-aircraft gun, he envisioned the human operator as a decision-making medium, sandwiched, as it were, between layers of complicated machinery he had to operate.

There is no reason to doubt that translating technology will improve with time. But we are not tempted to announce the death of the translator yet (we've just got into the business, natch). Much remains to be done before the complicated, almost intuitive work of a sensitive and aware individual becomes obsolete.

We wish we had access to the posted article earlier...would have made a brilliant lecture!


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Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:58
German to English
+ ...
Reason and subjectivity Apr 23, 2007

Jonathan,

I find your posts and your theories fascinating, and I have looked at your Wikipedia references. However, I did not find anything that came even close to convincing me.
To keep the length of this post down, allow me to summarise my response without direct quotes:

1. All reasoning has an element of subjectivity - in the last analysis, our reasoning is based on a value judgement, i.e. a belief (that word again!), about how the world works.

2. An appeal to references in the literature is a form of shared subjectivity - I choose the people who happen to agree with my own value judgments. There is nothing wrong with that, but we should not pretend that it is objective in any global sense.

3. The word "belief" is not an insult, nor is it "petty". I did not accuse you (or anyone) of "blind belief". Belief is an honourable and respectable part of life. You are perfectly entitled to your belief about how the human brain works, and I am unashamed to keep to my belief.
The important thing is to be honest about the fact that it is a belief.

4. Human life has many different elements, including love, patience, fear, anger, suffering, optimism, pessimism, aesthetic preferences, humour, selfishness, selflessness, hunger, belief, confidence, doubt, disbelief, insecurity, choices of will, various personality traits. And, of course, reason.
Reason is just one aspect of humanity. It is not predominant in any way.

5. Human communication involves all of these elements, and the way we express them changes over time. Any sentient machine which wants to comprehend (and translate) human language would need to emulate all of these elements, otherwise it would constantly fall behind the times, and it would never "understand" what is being said.

6. You find me presumptuous to suggest that this is impossible. I find it rather romantic to suggest that software programmers will in some way emulate the creator and create a living being which will have the full range of human consciousness, awareness and communicative ability.

7. We can debate the subject, but we will not resolve it one way or the other by rational means, because reason is only part of the equation.

8. I am happy to agree to differ.


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JonathanBrown
Local time: 17:58
English to Finnish
+ ...
Machine Translation and special status of the brain of Homo Sapiens Apr 24, 2007

Ok, we can agree to disagree on the matter. I admit, it's not in any way an open-and-shut case, like I said, there is in fact literature to support your ideas as well, I just subscribe to the other school of thought. Even though you will surely disagree as before, let me address some of the points you made.

I find your posts and your theories fascinating, and I have looked at your Wikipedia references. However, I did not find anything that came even close to convincing me.


Ok. This is not entirely surprising, since the material that has convinced me best is
a) my university studies on computational theory, and complexity analysis
b) Douglas Hofstadter's book: Gödel, Escher, Bach
c) Australian physicist Paul Davies' books: God and the New Physics, The Mind of God, etc.

I highly recommend these titles, especially for religiously inclined scientific minds, since they deal not only with the concept of what sentience, conciosness and self-awareness are, but also the beginning of the universe, and cosmology. Wikipedia naturally doesn't contain enough background, since it's just an encyclopedia.

I find it rather romantic to suggest that software programmers will in some way emulate the creator and create a living being which will have the full range of human consciousness, awareness and communicative ability.


The fact that you feel it is "romantic" tells me that you make a conscious choice not to attack the problem at all using reason. I kind of have a problem with people who do so, for they are selling themselves short. Perhaps you choose to do so because you do not believe that it is possible to achieve anything by it. However, it seems that you haven't seriously tried to attack it with reason, so how could you know for sure? I would be much more inclined to respect a "not possible" point of view, or a point of view that appeals to emotion or religion, if that person has first at least travelled down the road of attacking the problem with the scientific method. (Which is resposible for almost all modern technical innovation of any kind. And that's what were talking about, innovation.)

Another point: humanity's inevitable success in creating AI will not lessen the creator's value in any way, I feel. No more than human flight "goes against nature", or curing certain diseases is "playing God." Besides, your choice of wording makes it sound like it will be done in one fell sweep, and that it is easy. I do not believe this to be the case. It will be hard, and it will take perhaps centuries to perfect. It is an incremental process. First it will probably take a long time to develop software that can learn some limited meaning, then later that will expand to full-blown self-awareness. However, the time-scale is irrelevant to me, it is irrelevant to my central argument. Given enough time and resources, which we shall assume to be plentiful, it is quite certain to me that the secrets of the brain cannot remain hidden forever, and humanity will build such machines. When the first cavemen saw birds in flight and dreamed of flying themselves, it was just a matter of a few tens of thousands of years before that was a reality.

Any sentient machine which wants to comprehend (and translate) human language would need to emulate all of these elements, otherwise it would constantly fall behind the times, and it would never "understand" what is being said.


You have hit the proverbial nail on the head. That is precisely the case. In fact, the first sentient machines will not be translators, they will be harnessed to do something far more financially lucrative, and humans will remain the state of the art, if you will, until AI becomes cheaper and more prevalent. Which should not be far afterwards, given the exponential multiplying effect that artificial intelligence will have on humanity's research efforts. (Read about the AI Singularity.)

When a real AI is created, it stands to reason that it should be just like a baby: it has the software to learn, but it knows almost nothing. Its development will be just like a child. Because that's what it is: a mind, ready to learn, according to whatever influences it can absorb. That is why it is silly to think that the first AI will be "evil" or destructive, like in the movies, since just like a human child, it would require serious neglect or deliberate teching to grow up like that. AI will be capable of becoming a translator just like a person does it: by learning the languages in question, and having sufficient grasp of grammar, etc.

Human life has many different elements, including love, patience, fear, anger, suffering, optimism, pessimism, aesthetic preferences, humour, selfishness, selflessness, hunger, belief, confidence, doubt, disbelief, insecurity, choices of will, various personality traits. And, of course, reason.


I think I know what you were getting at with this sentence. However, in debate wording one could say that this is leaning toward the logical fallacy that is called "special pleading". I would like to postulate that it is not merely human life that contains these elements, but any sufficiently complex mind that displays these traits. Not just humans, necessarily. We just don't currently have access to any other good examples, any life forms that could help us understand this matter better. For some people, maybe not you, but some people, the emotions you have described are thought to be proof of humanity's special status, uniqueness, that machines could never be "taught to think" or "be human" or "as good as humans", since these people's experience doesn't encompass any other object capable of these phenomena other than the human brain. This fallacious reasoning ignores the idea that brains of a sufficient complexity (like gorillas, dolphins, humans) are capable of these emotions. Therefore if we create a working "brain", or mind, of sufficient complexity, we should see these features emerge, providing that we get the basic software set up. We are already on our way, it will just take some time to get it right, just like human flight took some adjusting to perfect.

We can debate the subject, but we will not resolve it one way or the other by rational means, because reason is only part of the equation.


This is the part I object to the most. Reason is the only way to resolve whether it is, or is not, possible to someday build artificial intelligence, or achieve some scientific milestone. Emotion, or any other aspect of human existence is a very poor tool to solve matters like this. Spoken by ancient cavemen, what value does the statement "I feel in my bones that people will never be able to fly" have? You are right that we (you and I) will not resolve it one way or the other through reason, but that is not because reason cannot do it, it's just that our reason, humaniy's current reason, cannot do it. I just can't understand why the human brain would be so special as to be immune to the effects of the scietific method.

Thanks for your posts, I can't wait to see what you say next.


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Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:58
German to English
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I think we have taken it as far as we can for now Apr 24, 2007

The central element is our belief about the human brain.
You seem to regard it as basically a computing machine that can be emulated by computing methods. I believe there is far more to the human brain than that.
And you believe that there will at some time be a "quantum leap" in programming that will create a sentient machine.

JonathanBrown wrote:
Human life has many different elements, including love, patience, fear, anger, suffering, optimism, pessimism, aesthetic preferences, humour, selfishness, selflessness, hunger, belief, confidence, doubt, disbelief, insecurity, choices of will, various personality traits. And, of course, reason.

I think I know what you were getting at with this sentence. However, in debate wording one could say that this is leaning toward the logical fallacy that is called "special pleading".
...
For some people, maybe not you, but some people, the emotions you have described are thought to be proof of humanity's special status, uniqueness,


The qualities I described are more than just "emotion".
Being human involves much more than just reason + emotion.

My "special pleading" argument certainly exists, but it is not quite of the type you suppose. For me, these human qualities are not the PROOF of a higher reality, they are one of the CONSEQUENCES of the created order. But a discussion of my belief in the Creator, and my Christian position in general, goes beyond the brief of this forum, so if you want to find out more, it will have to be by private mail.


We can debate the subject, but we will not resolve it one way or the other by rational means, because reason is only part of the equation.

This is the part I object to the most. Reason is the only way to resolve whether it is, or is not, possible to someday build artificial intelligence, or achieve some scientific milestone.


And this, in turn is the part that I object to the most.
Your belief in reason as the ultimate authority to decide such questions (especially the nature of humanity and the feasibility of human beings creating a sentient being) is missing the point of humanity (in my view).
Reason is a wonderful tool, but a poor master.

So we will have to agree to differ after all.


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"Across cultures, English is the word": What is future of translation?

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Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

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SDL Trados Studio 2017 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2017 helps translators increase translation productivity whilst ensuring quality. Combining translation memory, terminology management and machine translation in one simple and easy-to-use environment.

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