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[ontolog-forum] History of Machine Translation?

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: David Eddy <deddy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2011 12:48:03 -0500
Message-id: <BED7B0CA-87D1-4CE8-A346-6D1C0E9A3ECA@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
John -    (01)

On 2011-02-20, at 8:01 AM, John F. Sowa wrote:    (02)

> And by the way, I'd like to make some comments about those
> absurd "human-like" comments by journalists.  The one Leo
> cited was truly ridiculous:
> http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9210319/ 
> Brain_behind_IBM_s_Watson_not_unlike_a_human_s? 
> source=CTWNLE_nlt_pm_2011-02-18    (03)

I've been having a hard time holding my lunch down with some of the  
stuff that's being written about Watson.  What's a ruder word than  
"fawning?"  Definition: "seek favor by groveling" is pretty rude.    (04)

Might you, John, offer some historical perspective of how we've been  
through this before over the past 60 years.    (05)

[What I describe here is likely to have some details missing or  
unintentionally embellished.]    (06)

As I dimly remember, there was an IBM demonstration in the Madison  
Ave. office in maybe 1954 which "translated" Russian into English.   
There was evidently a LOT of HUZZAHs!!! about how with just a little  
more effort/money/technology and the machine translation problem  
would be solved.    (07)

The background context of the time was the brunt of the Cold War...  
so it was received wisdom that if we had this machine translation  
magic, we'd have a serious leg up on those imagined fleets of  
intercontinental bombers.  I remember picking up in high school  
stories about how "hydraulic ram" in Russian was translated into  
"water goat" in English.    (08)

IBM & Georgetown University subsequently teamed up to move the ball  
forward.    (09)

In due course of time, the ALPAC report (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ 
ALPAC) was issued & AI descended into the "AI winter."    (010)

At the time I came across this history in August 2006, I'd just  
attended a MT conference in Cambridge, MA.  One of the things that  
really struck me was that dear ol' Babblefish (the commercial remains  
of the Georgetown Project) was the giant in the industry at US$20M in  
revenues... after 50 years!    (011)

David Eddy
deddy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx    (012)

781-455-0949    (013)

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