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Eric Schmidt says next big thing for Google could be online translation (Shape of Things to Come?)
Thread poster: Barnaby Capel-Dunn
Barnaby Capel-Dunn  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:03
French to English
May 2, 2008

Eric Schmidt says "the next big thing" for Google could be online translation services. "I've always thought that the scariest piece of innovation is knowledge understanding and language translation," he says.

"I don't understand how it works, but to watch a computer - literally watch it - read something in English, dissect what it's about, translate it into a language that I don't speak and having that other person say, 'Wow, that's incredible,' to me, that's magic.

"And it isn't magic, it's just very good computer science, very good artificial intelligence, very good physics. And that's where we are. So the things that are most impressive to me are the things where the computer does something that nobody could do, literally translate things 100 language in parallel, summarise something for me, take me to something which I didn't know I was interested in but knows that I cared about it. And we're right on the cusp of that."

Wow!

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2008-05-02 12:41]


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 08:03
Dutch to English
+ ...
Key words May 2, 2008

'Artificial intelligence' - I'll leave it at that

No doubt the 'prophet of doom' who hates translating - but continues to do it for some odd reason - will seize upon this opportunity to recycle his tired rant about how we will all soon end up editing MT texts for a living.

Yes, before you start, we know, we've heard you before - countless times ...



[Edited at 2008-05-02 11:02]


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Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:03
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Wow - Not as bad as it has been 2 years ago May 2, 2008

Translated into German by Google Translate

"Ich habe immer gedacht, dass die erschreckenste Stück Innovation ist die Kenntnis und das Verständnis Sprache Übersetzung ", sagt er.

"Ich verstehe nicht, wie es funktioniert, aber sich hier einen Computer - buchstäblich zuschauen - lesen Sie etwas in Englisch, sezieren, was es geht darum, übersetzen sie in eine Sprache, die ich nicht sprechen und mit diesem anderen Person sagen, 'Wow , Das ist unglaublich, "für mich, das ist Magie.

"Und es ist nicht Zauberei, es ist nur sehr gute Computer-Wissenschaft, sehr gute künstliche Intelligenz, sehr gute Physik. Und das ist, wo wir sind. Also das sind Dinge, die beeindruckendsten für mich sind die Dinge, wo der Computer tut etwas, das niemand könnte tun, was wörtlich übersetzt 100 Sprache, in parallel, zusammenfassen etwas für mich, nimm mich zu etwas, was ich nicht weiß, dass ich interessiert war, sondern weiß, dass ich gepflegt about it. Und wir sind direkt an der Schwelle dafür."

And back into English

I always thought that the scariest piece of innovation is knowledge and understanding language translation, "he says.

"I do not understand how it works, but here a computer - literally watch - read something in English, dissect what it is a matter of translating it into a language that I can not speak and with that other person say, 'Wow , That's incredible, "For me, this is magic.

"And it's not magic, it's just very good computer science, artificial intelligence, very good, very good physics. And this is where we are. So these are things that are most impressive for me are the things where the computer does something that nobody could do, which literally translated 100 languages, in parallel, summarize something for me, take me for something I do not know that I was interested, but know that I cared about it. And we are directly connected to the threshold for that."


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:03
German to English
+ ...
Right on the cusp? May 2, 2008

If you look at the history of machine translation, I think we've been "right on the cusp of that" for about 50 years now. OK, maybe not 50 - 30 years?



[Edited at 2008-05-02 10:22]


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
Definite change in the last year or so May 2, 2008

Daina Jauntirans wrote:

If you look at the history of machine translation, I think we've been "right on the cusp of that" for about 50 years now. OK, maybe not 50 - 30 years?



[Edited at 2008-05-02 10:22]


No, this is very different. Two years ago, there was almost no type of text that machine translations handled well. Now Google's translation tool handles straightforward journalism much, MUCH better than it used to, at least for Spanish-English.

For the moment I'm not too worried; 90% of the source texts I translate would come out a right mess if machine translated, but the technology has taken a huge leap forward since 2006.

[Edited at 2008-05-02 11:17]


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:03
Member (2004)
English to Italian
jus wait... May 2, 2008

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:

No doubt the 'prophet of doom' who hates translating - but continues to do it for some odd reason - will seize upon this opportunity to recycle his tired rant about how we will all soon end up editing MT texts for a living.



we will, eventually...

G (another Doom Merchant)


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:03
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Who designed the translation programs? May 2, 2008

Although, like all serious translators, I deplore the usual results of machine translations and loathe having to correct them (i.e. re-translate them), I assume that in the design of those programs, linguists/translators must be involved at some point? The computer can only use what somebody somewhere put into it. I'm not happy about it, but perhaps in some distant (or not-so-distant) future, translators will all be employed on designing, tweaking and perfecting translation programs?
Just a thought ...
Jenny


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 10:03
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
We are not yet able to translate from Finnish into English May 2, 2008

That's what Google toolbar says.
Those guys have for years been playing around with English-German-translations, so its no big news that they finally are getting results for everyday speak.
Cheers
Heinrich


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:03
German to English
+ ...
Not entirely true May 2, 2008

Steven Capsuto wrote:

No, this is very different. Two years ago, there was almost no type of text that machine translations handled well. Now Google's translation tool handles straightforward journalism much, MUCH better than it used to, at least for Spanish-English.

For the moment I'm not too worried; 90% of the source texts I translate would come out a right mess if machine translated, but the technology has taken a huge leap forward since 2006.

[Edited at 2008-05-02 11:17]


That's not entirely true. Machine translation has always been able to handle restricted language well. As I recall, the classic examples in the literature are Caterpillar manuals (written using simplified English rules) and weather reports in Quebec (repetitive, limited vocabulary). If the proper rules are set up for standard types of articles, I can see how MT could handle that well. Disambiguation is the problem when you get to trickier texts.

It would be interesting to know if this leap is real (not doubting your observations, but is it hype or a quantifiable improvement?) and, if so, what technology or advance is behind the improvement. I have not kept up with the MT world much since writing my thesis on the subject 10 years ago. It is an interesting topic - it's just that the quote in the first post sounds just like every major announcement of MT breakthroughs in the past few decades.

Personally, I'm not worried yet! At least in my specialty, MT for the repetitive stuff would be a welcome relief so that I can concentrate on the tough stuff. To me it seems that the volume of documentation is going up, not down, and the number of translators able to handle it is not sufficient, so MT could possibly be an improvement in my niche of the translation world.

[Edited at 2008-05-02 11:58]

[Edited at 2008-05-02 11:58]


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Αlban SHPΑTΑ  Identity Verified
Albania
Member (2008)
English to Albanian
+ ...
Language pairs May 2, 2008

I have enough reason to believe "unemployment" will first target translators between English, German and French. I am somehow happy to understand that I deal with a language that is not easily translatable by machines due to its annoying complexity. By the time this happens to Albanian, I will switch to interpreting

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 08:03
Dutch to English
+ ...
Didn't say we wouldn't (to some extent, at least) ... May 2, 2008

... doom merchant

It's the particular tired 'rant' I personally get a bit fed up with - it's a question of adapting if and when it happens to the extent it becomes necessary and keeping a firm eye on the hourly rate. There aren't any professions that don't undergo change.

But scaremongering and constant downers about the future of the industry from someone who by his/her own admission doesn't want to be in it anyhow isn't helpful at all. There are those who know how to make money and those that don't, and will just blame everybody and everything else for their own shortcomings in that department.

[Edited at 2008-05-02 13:04]


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Barnaby Capel-Dunn  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:03
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Lawer-Linguist May 2, 2008

"But scaremongering and constant downers about the future of the industry from someone who by his/her own admission doesn't want to be in it anyhow isn't helpful at all."
I suppose you're referring to me?! But when did I ever say that I didn't want to be in the profession?


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:03
English to Spanish
+ ...
Restricted language May 2, 2008

I think Daina has hit it on the head when she emphasizes "restricted language". Computer translation lends it self well to restricted language, and what I am sure it will lead to is more things, and not less, being translated not only by computers but by humans.

I do not think anyone can expect "restricted language" to become the norm for human communication except in limited areas. Thus, there will continue to be an increasing need for human translators.

I look at some of the things I have to translate and ask myself, "could a machine ever be programmed to translated this?" And the answer of course, is a resounding "NO, NEVER".

No two people in the world speak the same language. We only speak languages that are more or less mutually intelligible with one another.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:03
French to English
Not you May 2, 2008

Barnaby Capel-Dunn wrote:
I suppose you're referring to me?! But when did I ever say that I didn't want to be in the profession?


She means our Dutch chum with the avatar of a dolphin. The clue that it wasn't you was in the future tense she used

FWIW, my understanding has been that recently, the focus has moved away from using computers to parse and codify and analyse the source in order to do the same thing in reverse to generate a target, and more to sheer bloody processing power.

Storage is cheap as chips, computers can rip through a giga-tera-gazillion tons of data before you can say "what's the plural of corpus", searching for matches or close enough matches from the piles of previous translated work (or from aligned TMS or whatever, you get the idea). This is the future. Well, it is today


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:03
German to English
Actually.... May 2, 2008

i Translate wrote: I have enough reason to believe "unemployment" will first target translators between English, German and French. I am somehow happy to understand that I deal with a language that is not easily translatable by machines due to its annoying complexity. By the time this happens to Albanian, I will switch to interpreting


..... German-to-English is one of the most difficult language pairs for MT, always has been. That's why the quality of MT results for Romance, Slavic, Nordic and many Asian languages has traditionally outstripped De-En.

No doubt Albanian MT will flourish once there's sufficient commercial demand for it.

Robin


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