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Re: [ontolog-forum] History of Machine Translation?

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2011 09:56:54 -0500
Message-id: <4D627D36.6000502@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Sergei,    (01)

The question was "When?"    (02)

>> 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    (03)

> Oh yes, they did have something to demonstrate. It was the famous
> Georgetown experiment. See Hutchins's book on history of MT for
> details.    (04)

If they started in 1954, they wouldn't have much to demonstrate
until sometime later.  But people could (and did) speculate.
In any case, I agree that John Hutchins's web site is a goldmine
for that history:    (05)

    http://www.hutchinsweb.me.uk/history.htm    (06)

But the scanned versions of the original publications are important to
show what was actually implemented (although many papers are unclear
on that point):    (07)

    http://www.mt-archive.info/conferences-1.htm    (08)

> The journalists had a field day, one from New Yorker invented
> the notorious "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" joke.    (09)

Journalists do that when they need a catchy headline.  But they
aren't the only people who enhance the actual accomplishments.    (010)

> The good thing was that this allowed some of the Soviet colleagues
> to persuade the authorities to fund MT research there (sans computers,
> needless to say - but that's another hilarious story).    (011)

Two points:  (1) In Cambridge, CLRU started in the 1950s as a discussion
group that couldn't afford computers, but they eventually got some.
(2) When the ALPAC report in 1964 caused the US DoD to cut funding
for MT, the Soviets also cut funding.  No treaties necessary.    (012)

John    (013)

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