View Poll Results: Machines, not human translators, leading the way in the Future?

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Thread: No more human translations in the future?

 
  1. #1
    IUS
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    Question Google Vision of the Future: Machines, not human translators, leading the way.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/topNe...21881520070328

    Google seeks world of instant translations


    By Adam Tanner


    MOUNTAIN VIEW, California (Reuters) - In Google Inc.'s vision of the future, people will be able to translate documents instantly into the world's main languages, with machine logic, not expert linguists, leading the way.

    Google's approach, called statistical machine translation, differs from past efforts in that it forgoes language experts who program grammatical rules and dictionaries into computers.

    Instead, they feed documents humans have already translated into two languages and then rely on computers to discern patterns for future translations.

    While the quality is not perfect, it is an improvement on previous efforts at machine translation, said Franz Och, 35, a German who heads Google's translation effort at its Mountain View headquarters south of San Francisco.

    "Some people that are in machine translations for a long time and then see our Arabic-English output, then they say, that's amazing, that's a breakthrough," said Och.

    "And then other people who have never seen what machine translation was ... they read through the sentence and they say, the first mistake here in line five -- it doesn't seem to work because there is a mistake there."

    But for some tasks, a mostly correct translation may be good enough.

    Speaking over lunch this week in a Google cafeteria famed for offering free, healthy food, Och showed a translation of an Arabic Web news site into easily digestible English.

    Two Google workers speaking Russian at a nearby table said, however, that a translation of a news site from English into their native tongue was understandable but a bit awkward.

    FEEDING THE MACHINE

    Och, who speaks German, English and some Italian, feeds hundreds of millions of words from parallel texts such as Arabic and English into the computer, using United Nations and European Union documents as key sources.

    Languages without considerable translated texts, such as some African languages, face greater obstacles.

    "The more data we feed into the system, the better it gets," said Och, who moved to the United States from Germany in 2002.

    The program applies statistical analysis, an approach he hopes will avoid diplomatic faux pas, such as when Russian leader Vladimir Putin's translator miffed then German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder by calling him the German "Fuehrer." The word is verboten in that context because of its association with Adolf Hitler.

    "I would hope that the language model would say, well, Fuehrer Gerhard Schroeder is ... very rare but Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schroeder is probably 100 times more frequent than Fuehrer and then it would make the right decision," Och said.

    The center of Google's effort looks surprisingly modest. Och shares a spartan office with two others on his team, with little clutter other than a shelf of linguistic books above his desk. That's because the muscle work is performed by machines.

    So far, Google is offering its own statistical machine translations of Arabic, Chinese and Russian to and from English at http://www.google.com/language_tools. Third-party software gives access on the site to German and other languages, Och said.

    "So far, the focus is let's make it really, really good," Och said. "As part of a general Google philosophy, once it's really useful and it has impact, then there will be found ways how to make money out of it."

    Miles Osborne, a professor at the University of Edinburgh, who spent a sabbatical last year working on the Google project, praises Google's effort but sees limitations.

    "The best systems (e.g. Google) can be very good indeed for language pairs such as Arabic-English," he said.

    But he added software will not overtake humans in expert translations as it has in playing chess; software should be used for understanding rather than polishing documents.

    "It may also be useful when deciding whether to pay a human to do a good job: you could imagine looking at Japanese patent documents and seeing if they are relevant, for example," he said.

    Google chairman Eric Schmidt also sees broad political consequences of a world with easy translations.

    "What happens when we have 100 languages in simultaneous translation? Google and other companies are working on statistical machine translation so that we can on demand translate everything all the time," he told a conference earlier this year.

    "Many, many societies have operated in language-defined communities where they really don't understand and are not particularly sympathetic to other peoples' views because of the barrier of language. We're about to have that breakthrough and it is a huge thing."

    Guau! What do you think?
    Last edited by IUS; 03-31-2007 at 07:18 PM.

  2. #2
    Forum User Spanish-Translator's Avatar
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    Unhappy No more human translators in the future?

    Quote Originally Posted by IUS
    But he added software will not overtake humans in expert translations as it has in playing chess; software should be used for understanding rather than polishing documents.

    "It may also be useful when deciding whether to pay a human to do a good job: you could imagine looking at Japanese patent documents and seeing if they are relevant, for example," he said.
    I think these are politcally correct comments, but they are thinking in a world with no more human translators needed, and may be this is true but in a long term future....

  3. #3
    Moderator SandraT's Avatar
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    Wrong! so wrong! computers will never be able to take over translators. Currently, they can not even offer a nearly-correct general idea. How can a computer translate "concierto" as in Yo concierto una cita/ I set up a meeting and "concierto" as in Yo doy un concierto maŮana/ I will offer a concert tomorrow... How could they make a difference...giving parameters? yeah, right!?
    Wanna know the google-translation?
    I arrange an appointment with you. I give I arrange tomorrow.
    So, it takes more than document feeding to a system to really translate the real meaning of a single sentence.

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    Senior Member Veronica's Avatar
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    Computers won't make it because only another human can read past the straight words and give the translated text it's real meaning!

    Of course, you have all sorts of people, there will always be those who use machines and end up with incomprehensible translations. I see them nowadays already...it's so easy to recognize one of these texts...

  5. #5
    Forum User Spanish-Translator's Avatar
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    Default Machines will not be leading the way in the short term future

    But I am affraid, Machines will be leading the way in the long term future... let's change the angle: Do you belive it is possible to have A.I. (Artifitial Inteligence) like Bishop in Alien? I do, so translations, it's a minor thing if you compare to that, but it is a question of time, may be we are speaking of 100 years or 500 years....

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    Default Machines doing translation

    We really donīt know what the course of the world will really be in the future...Many bet that computers/machines will lead the world...but are you all sooo sure??? Drastic turning points in human history are more common than what people think...Just wait and see....

  7. #7
    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    I guess that if machines actually have the capacity to decide the meaning of a word, translation could be the least of our problems.

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    New Member spanglish1's Avatar
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    Default translation machines??

    I don't think machines will be able to take over human translators. Not even in a long term future. We all have seen the result of a translation made by a computer, and I personally think that apart from being a waste of time, its a waste itself. Computers will never have the cultural and working experience of a human translator no matter how long they take introducing parallel texts and diversification of terminology, its never going to work...

  9. #9
    Senior Member Julio Jaubert's Avatar
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    If we see the first human being attempts to build a flying machine, we will find them ridiculous.

    Human brain is a combination of chemical and electrical processes, may be some more. There is a process to translate: connections among neurons, electrical signals, etc. Computers only need to copy them.

    Personally, I think the problem is not the capacity of computers of the future, but the capacity of human beings to discover the essence of language. It's a matter of software, not hardware. But linguists are not close to comprehension of language processes.

    At this momment (and in the near future) computers aren't close to solve this problem. May be in 10, 20, 30 years... but never say never.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    Default What we are

    I donít want to get too philosophical about the matter, but do you really think we can describe the human being just as a sum of chemical and mechanical elements? That is quite a positivist point of view, a conception that still couldnít explain the most difficult questions. I can think of Stephen Hawkins right now, when he said that after trying to explain reality from a physical perspective, he might end up believing in God. Donít take me wrong: Iím not a religious man. My point is quite different. Just to quote Hamlet, ďThere are more things in heaven and earth, [Horatio] than what your philosophy can dream ofĒ.
    Are we just mechanical animals? So why didnít we find answers to our most important questions, language not being less of a mistery than other phenomena?
    (I'm not asserting... I'm just wondering).

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