On 20/02/2011 2:51 PM, John F. Sowa wrote:
> David, Ron, and Len,
> The amount of history is enormous. I suggest that we focus the
> discussion on implications for the future of NLP -- including
> the implications of IBM Watson.
> I'd like to mention a note by Len Yabloko from Thursday (2/17),
> which I had intended to comment on, but got sidetracked:
>> What bothers me [about Watson] is that while opening some great
>> possibilities to commercialize the technology (which is necessary
>> step to make a real progress), it may close some other maybe
>> greater directions of progress.
> That is a good question. There have been many fads and trends
> in every branch of science that have opened up new topics, but
> with the unfortunate side effect of diverting attention from
> other directions that could be more promising.
>> Unfortunately, working last year at IBM Research as a consultant
>> I came to conclusion that IBM made a strategic decision to
>> suspend all their research in Semantic Web, especially the work
>> on ontology-based approaches. I am not claiming this as a fact,
>> just merely as my own observation. This happened roughly in the
>> same time frame as Watson project gained momentum.
> I hadn't noticed that point, but it's possible. In any case, one
> of my major complaints about the Semantic Web is that they ignored
> many other developments that had been very promising. I discussed
> that in slides 21 to 23 of the following talk:
> Integrating Semantic Systems
> While we look at the history of MT and Watson, we should also
> consider the bigger picture of how all versions of semantic
> systems are, may be, or should be heading.
>> 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.
> 1954 was when IBM began a partnership with the GAT project
> (Georgetown Automatic Translator), but I didn't think that they
> had anything to demonstrate that early. IBM did have a large
> demo at the 1964 World's Fair of their Russian-English translator
> For a quick survey of the early MT work see the following slides
> by Jaime Carbonell:
>> I use Google Translate a lot to construct French translations from English.
>> It is not perfect but it is surprisingly good.
> Google uses statistical methods to "learn" the translation patterns
> from one language to another. But their accuracy depends heavily on
> the amount of parallel text that they can find for any pair of
> The French-English pair happens to be especially good because the
> Canadian Parliament requires all proceedings to be available in
> both languages.
We are located in Montreal so all of our websites and materials are in
both languages and many of the portals and e-Learning courses that we
make, are in both languages.
Quebec has a whole set of language rules and Canadian companies that
operate across the country have all of their internal materials in
French and English.
> Fred Jelinek at IBM research in the 1980s used
> that material to develop the first statistical parser between
> French and English.
> Google has continued along that path, and they have been gathering
> as much statistics as they can for every language pair. But French
> and English still have a head start with a large volume of data.
> Research on the GAT project was terminated in 1963, but some of
> the original developers used that work as the basis for Systran.
> The original code was written for the IBM 704 and 7094, but they
> translated Systran to the IBM 360 in the late 1960s and to the PC
> in the 1980s. Systran is still available on the WWW under the
> name of Babelfish.
> Depending on the amount of data available, different translators
> have different advantages. The Systran dictionaries were all
> developed by hand, mostly for political topics in the European
> Union, but its original dictionaries for Russian-English physics
> texts are still available.
> If you're using free translators on the WWW, you might compare
> the results of Google and Bablefish for different texts in
> different languages.
> There's a lot more to say, but I have to run.
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