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DARPA Starts Ultimate Language Translation Project 123

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the teach-it-klingon-first-please dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched the ultimate speech translation engine project that would be capable of real-time interpretation of television and radio programs as well as printed or online textual information in order to be summarized, abstracted, and presented to human analysts emphasizing points of particular interest." If combined with the tower of babel project we discussed earlier, it could only lead to awesomeness.
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DARPA Starts Ultimate Language Translation Project

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  • to understand DARPAese. (Try reading some of their PPT slides.)
    • It certainly would be handy. I suspect that as even skilled human translators can mess things up at times that expecting any kind of automated system to produce good results will be an accomplishment indeed!
      • by 2.7182 (819680) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:35PM (#16769571)
        Seriously though, I just don't believe it. I've worked on a number of DARPA robot projects, and have heard a lot of their babble. They claim to be funding all these fantastic ideas, but none of them ever work except in a limited capacity. The robot projects I worked on were very lame in that DARPA created these really specific environments for the robots that were light years away from what they were saying they were really going to do. All of the Universities involved failed to accomplish even the simplest tasks. So my experiance with them is that they talk a big talk, and no one ever goes back to check "hey did you really ever do that ?" Now granted, some of their work is supposed to be high risk, but they never emphasize which projects are expected to have a high failure rate. Largely because they don't care. It's really all about funding your academic buddies or whoever is going to be able to scratch you back in some way. It is very much an old boys network, with an emphasise on PR and not much about real science. Much like the MIT media lab. (Just thought I'd get another jab in there....)
        • by jotok (728554)
          They claim to be funding all these fantastic ideas, but none of them ever work except in a limited capacity.

          Like that internet boondoggle?

          I keed, I keed :)
          • by 2.7182 (819680)
            That was ARPA, not DARPA. And I have little doubt that the culture of ARPA in the 60's is different then the culture of DARPA now.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          The US department of Defense is openly claiming to be able to solve one of the world's hardest AI problems, and you don't believe it? Big surprise.

          If the US military had anything close to real A.I., you wouldn't hear about it. It would be a classified information.

          The NSA would love to have anything close to a system capable of understanding language as well as a native speaker can; as would the CIA, or any other clandestine organization. Any system smart enough to understand and generate English probably al
        • Actually... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by technococcus (990913)
          I attend one of the many Universities where DOD research is currently being conducted. Portions of our graduate student body and faculty are working on the powered armor concept in conjunction with UC-Berkley (they're doing the frame and kinematics, we're doing the control theory/system and power supply). We're actually making quite a bit of progress in the field of alternative batteries (the current iteration is a peroxide-fueled hydraulic hybrid-type system widget) and mechanical interface control theor
        • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @02:08PM (#16771341)
          Seriously though, I just don't believe it. I've worked on a number of DARPA robot projects, and have heard a lot of their babble. They claim to be funding all these fantastic ideas, but none of them ever work except in a limited capacity.

          This is a big pipe dream that is extremely unlikely to work any time soon. How do I know that? Right now, I think it would be reasonable to conclude that computer technology today is good enough to do accurate text translation. Can it? Well, it depends on how picky you are. There are always mistakes, sometimes glaring ones, in text to text translation programs. I can speak Russian and for convenience (to get quick rough translations) at one time I owned what is probably the best Russian-English text translation program. It's much more accurate than Babelfish. It still left a lot to be desired. It would be about 80-90% accurate, but no more. I remember one time when it took a statement in Russian that said "I absolutely would not mind to tell you about ..." and translated it as "I absolutely would mind to tell you about ..." which is the exact opposite. Many languages, such as Russian, Spanish and Portuguese (and no doubt others) use double negatives to express negation. "I don't know nobody" is quite correct in Russian, Spanish and Portuguese although it is quite grammatically incorrect in English if your intention was to say "I don't know anybody". Programs that translate into English from languages that use double negatives often fail to correctly translate the negation. Maybe there are some that get it right, but I've never seen any. Text translation programs are very poor at distinguishing between words that have uses as different parts of speech. Here's an example:

          She sings like an angel.

          In this sentence, "like" is an adverb, but it can also be a verb ("She likes to go shopping."). A text translation program might fail to correctly understand that "like" is an adverb here and say something like:

          She sings and angel is pleasing to her.

          I could give a lot more examples, but these are enough. If we can't even do a better job right now at text translation, how on earth is DARPA going to get speech translation right? This is the kind of project that gets funded by idiots who have never studied foreign languages and believe that the Star Trek idea of a Universal Translator is only a few years away.
          • by Venner (59051)
            The time-honored CS example is:

            Time flies like an arrow.
            Fruit flies like a banana.

            Always liked that one.
            • So then, we have:

              Time flies like an arrow:
              Time-travelling winged insects prefer an arrow

              ...and...

              Fruit flies like a banana:
              The end product is airborne as if it were a banana

              Talk about name-mangling... :)

        • I'd agree, as there are two fields here that are extremely difficult -- voice recognition and machine translation -- which makes this all seem like so much pie in the sky. Anyone who's ever used voice recognition knows how spotty it can be, and anyone who's ever played with Babelfish (like this guy [tashian.com]) knows how much humour can result. Now imagine these two lovely examples put to use on the battlefield, or at intel HQ, and some very unhappy possibilities arise.

          I'm all a fan of research for learning's sak

  • Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - DARPA - is working on the ultimate speech translation engine that would be capable of real-time interpretation of television and radio programs as well as printed or online textual information in order to be summarized, abstracted, and presented to human analysts emphasizing points of particular interest.

    In unrelated news, a user named DARPABOT has made the Slashdot Hall of Fame [slashdot.org] under most active submitters at over 1000 in under a few weeks time, crushing prost

  • ... Now in 54 flavours! :-)
  • Awesome? WTF?? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:22PM (#16769333)
    If you consider that now the government will be able to spy on you in your native language to be awesome, then I suppose giving the Feds this sort of technology can only lead to awesomeness.

    Surveillance of civilian populations under the guise of "monitoring terrorists" is not something that I'd consider awesome. Irksome, yes. But not awesome.
    • Re:Awesome? WTF?? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:28PM (#16769433) Homepage
      As if the government doesn't already have legions of translators at the ready. Military linguists are trained at Defense Language Institute [dliflc.edu] at the Presidio of Monterey. I studied Chinese there while serving in the Navy, and while most of my fellow enlisted servicemen were likewise studying languages of some clear strategic value, there are also courses in various other languages for officer exchange programs, as well as the occasional course in something really exotic. Combined with the simple possibility of the government paying a native speaker to work for them, this means that the government already has the language skills it needs even without a whizbang translation machine.
      • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
        As if the government doesn't already have legions of translators at the ready.

        Assuming that this system can recognize voice well, and then convert it into text in preparation for translation, this is already saying a lot. This means that phone conversations can in theory be automatically logged as text, which requires much less storage space than audio.

        -b.

        • Wouldnt the original audio need to be stored as well, for evidential reasons?
          • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
            Wouldnt the original audio need to be stored as well, for evidential reasons?

            Depends what you want to do with it, and assuming that our court system is intact and more or less unchanged in 20 years. Besides, there's always the option of kidnapping and "disappearing" miscreants. I'd hate to see what would happen, with the full consent of the majority of the lumpenproleteriat, if another 9/11-scale (or worse) terrorist attack occurred on US soil.

            -b.

          • Wouldnt the original audio need to be stored as well, for evidential reasons?


            The Department of Defense isn't particularly interested in evidence. Indeed, in many cases once they have the information they need to make a decision and the decision is made, it seems they'd be happier if the underlying original data was irretrievably lost to prevent any after-the-fact criticism of either their decisions or their methods.
      • by cyberon22 (456844)
        Considering that I've personally handled documents that the US embassy has "outsourced" for Chinese-English translation in Beijing, I think your confidence that the US has enough skilled translators in-house is grossly misplaced. Chinese is my second language and I am good at it, but I am not even an American citizen. And although I can't speak for military training, I have met people who have been trained by the State Department and found that very few of them have pushed beyond middling Chinese despite ha
      • >the government already has the language skills it needs even without a whizbang translation machine.

        Sadly, they don't. The FBI has something like two guys who speak Arabic, and there are numerous instances in the news recently where some fed is bewailing the lack of language skills in his department. On a diplomatic note, how many US Ambassadors [state.gov] actually speak the language of their host country? It might be useful if they had some way to understand the locals.

        • by o2sd (1002888)
          Sadly, they don't. The FBI has something like two guys who speak Arabic, and there are numerous instances in the news recently where some fed is bewailing the lack of language skills in his department. On a diplomatic note, how many US Ambassadors actually speak the language of their host country? It might be useful if they had some way to understand the locals.

          At the time of the Islamic Revoluation, the CIA had one employee who spoke Farsi, and they weren't listening to him anyway. I can't imagine much has
    • I read that as "Defense Against Research Projects Agency"!
    • ... ASR on people talking to each other naturally Just Doesn't Work[tm]. As in 70-80% error rate or worse.

      Gale is about TV/Radio news, not random people conversations.

          OG.
    • by 4D6963 (933028)

      now the government will be able to spy on you in your native language

      I can imagine your typical terrorist conversation translated using this system :

      -After this the friends when it jumps the operation?
      -Not white I go seeing
      -Into the correspondence, and to know, you have?
      -I am caused
      -And on the other hand are their blond as?
      -It goes, or
      -Or he has
      -The God is large!
      -The God is large!

    • be very suck. If you anything secret to say you better be hurry.
  • by Speare (84249) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:26PM (#16769391) Homepage Journal

    Just feed this new system a few reruns of Japanese television game shows. After that, we will be safe from automated snooping for at least another decade. As a plus, all artificial intelligence projects at the DARPA will be set back by another decade as well.

  • Humans??? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    What's wrong with using humans? This is exactly what humans are good at. While there most certainly are fields where machines can replace humans, this is _not_ one of them.

    http://lyricslist.com/lyrics/artist_albums/16/ac-d c.php/ [lyricslist.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by 3waygeek (58990)
      Yes, but Hoshi Sato won't be born for another 100 years or so...
    • Re:Humans??? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Protonk (599901) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:36PM (#16769605) Homepage
      One of the problems with using humans is that they are expensive--the other is that they become bored easily. It isn't like the defense establishment isn't using human translators, the NSA is the largest employer of translators [amazon.com] in the world. They use humans in every listening post out there, but for the same reasons that humans make lousy airport security sceeners, they make poor translators AND intelligence analylists. This isn't saying that machine translators are a panacea, but they can solve a small section of the problem that we have been trying to solve with a very human capital intensive solution for years now.
      • by Scott7477 (785439)
        I lived in Japan for two years and earned a minor in the language at a major private university in the US. Toward the end of my time in Japan, my skill with the language was sufficient that when I spoke to native Japanese on the phone, frequently they thought I was actually Japanese rather than a foreigner. I seriously considered working for the US government as a way of exploiting my Japanese skills, but I concluded that spending my days translating the kind of documents that the US government would be i
    • by JonTurner (178845)
      >>What's wrong with using humans?

      They're slow, and scarce and don't work 24-7. *If* the software has progressed to the point that it's "good enough" (that's a big IF) then a massive farm of machines could simultaneously monitor all communications (tv, email, phone, IM, etc.), summarize, and filter out anything interesting, looking for trends. Think Really Big Brother.
    • Lots of reasons (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phorm (591458) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:57PM (#16769983) Journal
      To properly translate all the nuances of some languages actually requires a lot of skill, and sometimes translating can be ask much interpreting as anything. Granted, this is something a human could handle better than a machine, but the problem is that humans also have a bias. Yes, there have been cases wherein human translation has caused problems because of bias or even due to being outright wrong.

      I reminds me of the old joke:

      Guard: Now tell me where you hid the money, or you will suffer
      Translator: Tell him where the money is, or you will suffer
      Prisoner: I'll never speak
      Translator: He says he won't tell you
      Guard: *putting gun to prisoner's head* Tell him I will blow his brains out if he doesn't tell me immediately
      Translator: He will shoot you in the head unless you tell him now
      Prisoner: I buried a million dollars under the floorboards in the old woodshed
      Translator: *pauses* He says you don't have the guts to shoot him...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DragonWriter (970822)
      What's wrong with using humans?


      The number of humans that the Pentagon can afford to employ with adequate skill in the languages it wants to target are inadequate to process all the channels of information it would like to filter for potentially interesting information, further, the more humans know what information is being looked for (and what is flagged), the greater the security risk.

    • We could probably collect as many cellphone and internet messages as we want, but there arent enough people to sift through them.

      Several terrorists in Colorado Supermax prisons sent over a hundred unread Arabic letters overseas because they have just one part time guy reading them down there. Quite a scandal there.
  • by thejrwr (1024073)
    Dragon Speak is going out of business of guess
  • awesomeness, to be sure, if you consider the ultimate outcome. Remember, this is DARPA, so they're looking at potential military applications. I read it as: "translate (military) communications in real-time, ... then destroy one or both parties."
    • by Milwaukee (716971)
      DARPA research & innovation has had many positive impacts on our lives. The most obvious example is the internet. Presuming it is successful, this new translation technology would definitely shrink the globe again, bringing us all closer. Isn't that a good thing?
      • this new translation technology would definitely shrink the globe again, bringing us all closer. Isn't that a good thing?

        I don't what to know what people really think of me.

  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:30PM (#16769479) Homepage Journal
    All I really want is a free online translator for web pages (ala Babelfish and Google) that aren't terrible at it. Seriously, the quality of Babelfish translations has stayed constant since it came on the scene in the late 90s, even though machine translation in general has made some rather significant advances. I don't really use them enough to justify plopping down $500 on the professional packages, but the current systems are just terrible.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      You get what you paid for.

    • Many languages have words and terms that have no translation into other languages. Often a single word might translate into many words to get the same idea across. As a result, real-time translation becomes very difficult. For example, some languages have only one preposition and don't have words like on, under inside,....

      Then, of course there are cultural differences too. A Xhosa girl would like to be told "You remind me of that fat cow over there", whereas your average American chick might not.

  • its lame, its old and yet i cannot help it

    i can see a translated japanese movie coming...

    "all your base are belong to us, make your time"
    • Seriously, try it. Input the sentence, "My dog has fleas." Go from English to Japanese, copy and paste the Japanese into the entry box, and translate back to English. "There is a chisel in my dog."

      Just one of many reasons that I'm not that worried about my career as a Japanese - English translator. :P

  • by Salvance (1014001) * on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:36PM (#16769607) Homepage Journal
    This project, along with CMU's Tower of Babel, certainly get props in the coolness category, but the practicality is still lacking. I believe DARPA is barking up the wrong tree for now, or at least biting off more than they can chew.

    Speech Recognition is the hardest problem to tackle on the path to recognition, and MUST be addressed before there is a viable real-time (or even delayed) translation engine. Currently, even the best speech recognition software can achieve at best ~80% accuracy when faced with a large vocabulary with no limits on speakers/dialects, and this level of accuracy is typically not achieved in real-time. While this 80% level is actually pretty good when transcribing to text (since the reader can typically decipher what the computer meant), it's downright awful if trying to translate the resulting text to another language.

    For example, if I say "I like ice cream" into voice recognition software and 'hears' "I like, I scream", the reader might understand what this means, particularly if they say it in context and aloud. However, let's say we translate each sentence into Spanish ("Tengo gusto del helado" and "Tengo gusto, yo grito" respectively, according to Babel Fish), and the speaker would be completely lost as the out of context phrases don't sound anything alike. In a natural language translation, even under relatively accurate recognition scenarios, would be frought with misunderstandings.

    Once speech recognition is tackled, it's just a matter of translation then voice synthesis. Fortunately these problems aren't nearly as difficult, and current solutions would suffice (with the only pitfall being poor grammer in the destination language, and a robotic sounding voice).
    • "Fortunately these problems aren't nearly as difficult, and current solutions would suffice (with the only pitfall being poor grammer in the destination language, and a robotic sounding voice)."

      *Good* translation is extremely difficult unless you stick to "see Dick run"-type sentences. Good translation between non-related languages (like Japanese and any Indo-European language) doubly so.

      Advanced machine translation on par with human will require nothing less than artificial intelligence, most likely.
    • "I believe DARPA is barking up the wrong tree for now, or at least biting off more than they can chew."

      I think what you're trying to say is that DARPA isn't capable of developing speech recognition software equal to the task of real-time translation.

      I'm sure that DARPA is fully aware that the biggest block to real-time translation is speech recognition -- that's why they are funding this project -- because it is (1) beyond the scope of what private enterprise is currently capable of without cash influx an
    • by cyberon22 (456844)
      Not sure about Arabic which is probably where the moeny is right now, but speech recognition is much less of a problem in languages like Chinese than in romance languages like English which conjugation, inflection and the sort.

      On the other hand, text translation is much harder in Chinese than in romance languages, in large part because of the lack of conjugation, etc.
    • by maxume (22995)
      DARPA just wants a way to figure out what documents are most interesting to give to a human to translate. I don't think the 80% accuracy is going to be all that huge a problem for something like that.
    • by Bazouel (105242)
      They should also start by making a translation engine that actually works...

      See, even for the most simple translation of "I like" in Spanish, Babelfish is wrong. The good translation is "Me gusto", not "Tengo gusto" which means "I have taste".

      I am trying to learn Cantonese and you have no idea just how "stupid" the current translators are...
      • by xtracto (837672)
        And to make things worse, "I like" does not means "Me gusto" but "Me gusta" as the first person conjucation of the verb.

        So, what great parent wrote as "I like iceream" would be translated as "Me gusta el helado" and "I like, I scream" would be "Me gusta, yo grito".

        I agree with GP about the speech recognition problem being one of the problems to cope before having a real-time translation tool. Some have said that the current technology (Dragon Speaking 9, etc) achieve 90% of accuaracy, but the issue is that
    • Translation *is* the hardest part in the Gale project. So much harder than in the current evaluations the translations are so bad that the impact of the ASR errors on the final result is not significantly detectable it seems. We hope that the MT teams are going to make some massive progress fast (they may, they get a *lot* of new data from the project) so that working on the ASR actually means something, but more importantly so that the project goes on.

          OG.
    • by avir (1020245)
      I beg to disagree with you on the relative difficulty between speech-to-text (STT) and machine translation (MT). The state-of-the-art in broadcast news transcription is currently over 90% accurate - using 100 minus word error rate (WER) - in English and close to 90% in both Arabic and Chinese. Also, English conversational telephone speech transcription reached over 85% accuracy during the DARPA EARS program. However, translation accuracy - using 100 minus human-mediated translation error rate (HTER) which i
      • by teneighty (671401)
        I had no idea STT of coversational speech was so good now. This is of extreme interest to me because it would help me enormously to have access to software that could do real-time STT of telephone coversations (I have a hearing loss). What software is being used to get these kinds of results?
        • by avir (1020245)

          The conversational telephone speech (CTS) results I quoted above were achieved using a state-of-the-art research system running under 10 times real time (10xRT); i.e., using less than 10 hours to transcribe an hour of speech. The winning system in 2004 DARPA EARS evaluation achieved 15.2% WER. For system description, see this paper [ieee.org] (requires subscription to ieeexplore). In 2004, many EARS teams achieved the same level of performance in real time as their 10xRT system in 2003. Since EARS program was killed a

    • As I just noted in another post, [slashdot.org] the current publicly available state of machine translation gives me little to fear as a professional translator. You note:

      ...with the only pitfall being poor grammer in the destination language...

      I'd like to point out that "poor grammar" can often have disastrous consequences for the meaning. Take my previous example, "My dog has fleas." Babelfish's Japanese output is "Watashi no inu ni nomi ga aru." This backtranslates to "There is a chisel in my dog." The bolded

  • by FuryG3 (113706) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:40PM (#16769661)
    Ultimate Language Translation researchers should probably compete along a stretch of the Mojave desert so as not to injure or offend nearby native speakers
  • Obviously such a thing will not work well without an advertising filter (imagine an analyzer sifting through washing powder ads).

    So they will have to develop one.

    This will be integrated into VCRs to stop/start recording when advertising starts/stops.

    Great!
  • Slashdot headline ten years from now... "Creators forgot to implement 1337 speak into translator matrix..."
  • Or the WRATH OF AN ANGRY GOD! heh

    "Hey... didn't I make them all speak different languages to teach those uppity humans a lesson? Now they what? The end routed me on that one? Oh I don't think so!"
  • The space station is being built again. India is planning manned missions into space [reuters.com]. A shift in power in the US Government [go.com]. Now we're creating a Universal Translator [startrek.com]! How exciting these times we live in.

  • ...Romulan, Klingon, and Vulcan?

  • The metal gear project. I mean, honestly, the DARPA chief isn't going to be jailed in the secret arctic base for the ultimat language translator.
  • Interesting, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:57PM (#16769977)
    Seems likely to be very useful for specifically what they suggest it is for (flagging potentially interesting material for further review by human analysts, a kind of time-saving filtering device for the limited pool of translators available.)

    But beyond that, I wouldn't give too much faith in any kind of mechanical translation as particularly reliable on its own except on narrow kinds of material. It conceivably might work for strictly literal usages, or for fairly stable idiomatic uses, but unless you have frequent collection and incorporation of usage data from every culture and subculture that may be a source of translated material, its going to fail, sometimes subtly and sometimes spectacularly, for a lot of idiom. Similarly, even within the same language, different groups using it will have different idiomatic uses that sometimes will produce different or opposing meanings for similar usages, which will require accurate identification of the source at more than just the language level to get correct results from. There's a lot of evolving cultural context that informs the use of language...

  • From TFA

    As you can see all these projects are a far cry from what DARPA wants. But given time and money something more advanced would surely come out and eventually would be available for civilian use as well.

    Well, err, yes, but, I have enough difficulty understanding Jordies and Glaswegans, and they're speaking the same language as me (nominally). Understanding 200 or so words when carefully spoken is a huge step from simultaneously interpreting random speech and I'm sure the problems will rise exponenti

  • What is it about "ultimate, do-everything" project sponsored by the government that sets off every alarm bell signaling imminent failure?
  • by master_p (608214) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @01:39PM (#16770765)
    In order to recognize speech, one needs a context-sensitive parser. In order to make a context-sensitive parser which is fast enough to interpret the text, the computer should have the pattern-matching capacity of a grown up human. The human brain contains 500-1000 trillion synapses! even if one makes the assumption that one synapse equals one bit, in order to understand the context, one would need a computer with a tremendous amount of memory which could be searched in parallel.

    Of course if you narrow the problem down to specific terms, then it is doable. But then it would not be 'ultimate' any more.
    • by inKubus (199753)
      I think we need to sit down and think about analog computers again, using waves to add and subtract and create filters. Of course, this can be simulated in digital space with fourier transforms and stuff.

  • They just speak a little sslloowweerr and LOUDER! The natives usually catch on.

  • You'd think the FBI would be a prime customer for something like this, but apparently keeping a huge backlog of documents [wnd.com] to translate and a staff that's too small to handle it is more important to the mechanics of their bureaucracy.

    The point being, if this tech works, great, but will it be used?
  • Take that, Wikipedia! [wikipedia.org] It's not just some plot device!

    Errr...I mean, soon, it won't be a plot device anymore!

    Crap, I mean, eventually it might not be just a plot device...

    I mean...oh, fuck it. This is DARPA after all.
  • by J.R. Random (801334) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @02:29PM (#16771699)

    Just say the title out loud to get some idea of why speech recognition is hard, nevermind translation. Translation has long been regarded as "AI-complete" because to do it well you have to understand what is being said, which involves solving all the other difficult AI problems. The current translation systems are lousy because they don't understand what is being said and most of them don't even attempt to.

    So my guess is that this program will be a boondoggle for researchers with little practical result.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ... speach researchers at Carnegie Mellon University has recently demoed a prototype of a device ...
  • I'm sure the multi-lingual people out there are laughing at the very concept of "Real-time translation". Unless you're doing something trivial (Italian to Spanish?), this just isn't possible.

    Some languages place verbs at the very end of the sentence. Assuming that the computer could understand each of the words, the entire sentence still has to be re-composed in English. For long sentences, the speaker has already moved on.

    Other languages, like French, use some crazy sentence structures that effective

  • I look forward to them distributing all the translated content on torrent, as a part of the freedom of info act or something, so that we can get English subbed foreign TV programs. I think that the anime shares will be most popular
  • If it could translate what my 11 month old kid is babbling about, it would save both of us a lot of crying... And get me off the sauce.

  • We could stop canning translators because they are gay (no liberty should be exempted from removal in our eternal war against evil, except the liberty from having gays look at your crotch, I guess).

    OR

    We could start learning some foreign languages. Everyone who graduates high school should learn at least two. Fluently. And no, not Spanish. A language NOT spoken by your neighbors. A *foreign* language. Arabic would be damned helpful.
    • American high schools have big problems without having to worry about teaching kids two foriegn languages. Heck, we should atleast get geography as a nationally required core curriculum subject first.
  • Requires conceptual processing which no one has solved yet.

    Fergeddaboutit.

    Until conceptual processing is able to be performed, ANY form of human language translation will be inadequate. It might be usable in some respects, but not adequate for most real purposes.

  • Although many may think this new technology is a bad idea, think about the communication unit in Star Trek. I know this is the real world and all, but advances like this can lead to a better understanding of each other. A unifying device like this can make views and beliefs from other cultures more understandable and somehow through this, we'll be able to make this world better in some small way.

Imitation is the sincerest form of plagarism.

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