Video: Machine Translation in 1954
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:02
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Mar 4, 2011

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-HfpsHPmvw&feature=player_embedded#at=0




[Edited at 2011-03-04 20:12 GMT]


 

opolt  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:02
English to German
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"They hadn't reckoned with ambiguity ..." Mar 4, 2011

LOL

So in 1954, $500000 were poured down the drain, it would be nice to know how much that would be in today's money.

... or maybe today they do reckon with ambiguity, but I mean, really ... why is it so difficult for programmers to understand that many symbol systems used among humans (language just one of them) do not follow binary logic, nor do they have much to do with statistical measures? That as long as different languages exist, they exist, as it were, for the very reason that they are not one-to-one compatible. And what's more, that these languages are being refined on a daily basis, getting more and more complex all the time. I could go on ...

There is clearly a collective delusional disorder at work here among IT people. Or like it is said in the novel The Good Soldier ŠveiK: "We've been marching a handsome distance today -- even though we've not gotten anywhere."

Thanks, Jeff -- maybe it was not your intention to shed such a negative light on MT, but anway this made my day!

PS USD 500,000 from 1954 would correspond to more than 4.09m in today's dollars, according to one website I've just consulted ...


[Edited at 2011-03-04 22:17 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:02
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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To replace human translators Mar 5, 2011

So that was going to replace human translators. How many times have we read this in Proz.com's fora over the years? And yet, translation is an attractive career and alive and kicking!

This video should be shown to the salespeople of companies doing MT... and their customers. Maybe that will help them be more humble about their claims and expectations.


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:02
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
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TOPIC STARTER
Machine Translation in 1954 Mar 5, 2011

What is even more amazing is that 100x that amount is currently being spent to create a system that cannot function without constant input from human translators. If the time ever comes when the amount of human translation is reduced, there will be less human input, and therefore the system will collapse upon itself and we will be right back to 1954.

 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:02
French to English
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Interesting video Mar 5, 2011

Thanks for sharing -- it's always interesting to see these pioneering systems "in the flesh".

Looking back, it seems that these earlier developers were naive in underestimating the amount of linguistic and "world" knowledge that would need to go into a successful translation system. On the other hand, they were looking at things from the perspective of the wartime message decoding efforts and to some extent viewed translation as "a variant of the same problem".


 

opolt  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:02
English to German
+ ...
If you do the math, the mind boggles Mar 6, 2011

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

What is even more amazing is that 100x that amount is currently being spent to create a system that cannot function without constant input from human translators. If the time ever comes when the amount of human translation is reduced, there will be less human input, and therefore the system will collapse upon itself and we will be right back to 1954.



Yes, and that's only the raw money spent, without taking into account how dramatically computer power has increased since then, and/or how much cheaper computing has become in the meantime.

I'm not really good at maths, but after looking up "Moore's law", a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that MT should by now be at least one trillion times better than it was back then, even without considering improved linguistic algorithms. The improvement in processor speed alone should account for a billionfold increase. And that's not even taking into account distributed computing, much less cloud computing! Add (or factor) in improvments in disc space, disk seek times, cache size, bus speed, memory sizes etc., and that number will grow a LOT. On top of that, MT can now rely on networks and a much bigger corpus of written texts. Databases have been invented and vastly improved since then. Programmers are much better educated, can rely on more convenient or even semi-automatic programming languages and scripting methods. Linguistics and translation theory have advanced.

And the result?

I mean, obviously I'm a "human translator" and as such, I'm hugely biased. But OTOH, "brute force attack" is far too friendly a term when looking at the current approach of the MT industry, it seems to me ...


[Edited at 2011-03-06 22:13 GMT]


 


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Video: Machine Translation in 1954

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