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  1. #1
    High Overlord Sansha87's Avatar
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    The evolution of the translation machine

    I have been using machine translators for years and noticed their gradual improvement from year to year. I wanted to compare how they translate today to how they used to translate back in the day. So I dug through my closet until I found my old CD-ROM of Universal Translator 2000 and decided to give it a whirl.

    Here is what I found,

    Japanese to English taken from the first paragraph:
    http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA

    Take in mind I screen capped the Japanese text because I know not everyone has the east Asian language pack installed.

    Google translate (Free Online Translator):


    The same text placed in Universal Translator 2000 (Which was largely considered the best machine translator in 1999 and cost you $50)



    Spanish to English taken from the first paragraph: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pizza

    La pizza es un pan plano horneado, habitualmente cuya base es elaborada con harina de trigo, sal, agua y levadura, y generalmente cubierto de queso mozzarella, salsa de tomate u otros ingredientes locales como son: el salami, tiras de cebolla y jamón. Es original de la cocina napolitana (Italia) y su popularidad ha hecho que se extienda por todo el mundo en una infinidad de variantes. Sin embargo, hasta la actualidad, la pizza napolitana ha sido la única, para la que se ha reconocido una denominación de origen propia de la Unión Europea, denominada Especialidad Tradicional Garantizada (o sus siglas en italiano, STG, Specialità Tradizionale Garantita). Este reconocimiento se obtuvo el de febrero de 2010 a propuesta de la "Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana".

    Google Translate:

    The pizza is baked flat bread, usually whose base is made ​​with wheat flour, salt, water and yeast, and usually covered with mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce and other local ingredients such as: salami, onion and ham strips. It's original Neapolitan cuisine (Italy) and its popularity has led to widespread throughout the world in countless variations. However, until now, the Neapolitan pizza has been the only one for which it has recognized an appellation of origin of the European Union itself, known as Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (or its acronym in Italian, STG, Specialità Tradizionale Garantita). This recognition was obtained February 2010 a proposal by the "Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana."

    The Same Text Placed In Universal Translator 2000:

    The pizza is a flat which bake habitually bread base it is elaborated with wheaten flour water and yeast generally leave covered cheese tomato or another ingredients sauce how as locals the are: onion and ham pull.* She is a kitchen original an (Italy) and his popularity that has done is extended all over the world in variant infinity Neapolitan.* However to news the Neapolitan pizza he has been the he gives birth to whichever he has recognized herself only denomination of origin own European denominated Union Traditional Guaranteed Specialty or its initials in a pizza) Italian.* This recognition was gotten on at proposal from February 2010 a Pizza.

    ---

    From my tests I have determined translation machines tend to do extremely well these days translating one romanized language to another and passably well translating between asian and romanized langauges. Where as 10+ years ago they did nothing but translate both as an absolute disaster.

    Given these findings do you think in another ten years perhaps machines will begin replacing human translators?

  2. #2
    Scarab Lord Robinhoodexe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sansha87 View Post
    Given these findings do you think in another ten years perhaps machines will begin replacing human translators?
    Not really. The grammar is very complex and the order of each type of word in sentences in different languages will make it very hard to make it.

    Unless we learn to teach a robot languages like we humans teach our children...
    Congratulations on graduating to expert level trolling, I would stick around but I'm busy getting gay married in 13 states and performing roadside abortions while passing bills that take away people's guns while i sip superior european wine and cheese i bought with european style socialist money, arrivaderci!

  3. #3
    Fluffy Kitten Lohe's Avatar
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    They might replace humans as a first pass of a translation, then you'd have an actual person proof reading the result.
    But then, not for works of art (novels, etc) unless it's a really small publication because the nuances of language are so
    important when it comes to writing good, immersing books

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Robinhoodexe View Post
    Not really. The grammar is very complex and the order of each type of word in sentences in different languages will make it very hard to make it.

    Unless we learn to teach a robot languages like we humans teach our children...
    Todays machine translaters DO understand grammatical and syntaxical differences in languages. It does not simply translate individual words; rather it understands how the entire sentence is placed together, and does its best to put that into the language of your choosing.

    And, looking at the paragraphs above, it does a damn fine job of it in my opinion. You generally see a lot more issues translating from latin based languages to symbol based, but that is to be expected. I imaging translating from English from Japanese would produce even worse results.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Robinhoodexe View Post
    Not really. The grammar is very complex and the order of each type of word in sentences in different languages will make it very hard to make it.

    Unless we learn to teach a robot languages like we humans teach our children...
    Which is very possible. You'd be surprised what computers will do, and what some already do. They have one that plays jeopardy, i'm sure they can make one translate properly. If not something already in the works.

  6. #6
    It will never replace actual translators. Well, not never, but not any time soon.
    Try translating something more complex, like a page from a book.
    There is much, much more to translating than understanding the meaning of each word and the grammar.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Robinhoodexe View Post
    Not really. The grammar is very complex and the order of each type of word in sentences in different languages will make it very hard to make it.

    Unless we learn to teach a robot languages like we humans teach our children...
    It's called machine learning. It'll probably happen with languages. It's how they taught a computer to play Jeopardy. Basically, you give a computer something and you tell it what it is. You do that a few thousand times and it will be able to recognize new variations. For example, if you show a computer the letter A a few thousand times in various different fonts while telling it that you are showing it the letter A, it will be able to recognize the letter A in new fonts you show it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sinner563 View Post
    Todays machine translaters DO understand grammatical and syntaxical differences in languages. It does not simply translate individual words; rather it understands how the entire sentence is placed together, and does its best to put that into the language of your choosing.

    And, looking at the paragraphs above, it does a damn fine job of it in my opinion. You generally see a lot more issues translating from latin based languages to symbol based, but that is to be expected. I imaging translating from English from Japanese would produce even worse results.
    English isn't a Latin based language, it's Germanic.
    Last edited by Bergtau; 2011-11-26 at 10:51 PM.

    Bergtau's Law: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability that somebody will mention Godwin's Law approaches 1.
    Hitler wasn't all bad, I mean, he DID kill Hitler.
    An accident is something that you did not mean to do at all. A mistake is something that you regret doing.

  8. #8
    You need to be a bit of a writer to translate properly. A machine can't do it. There is much more to it than most people imagine.

  9. #9
    Fluffy Kitten Lohe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bergtau View Post
    English isn't a Latin based language, it's Germanic.
    I believe he was talking about the alphabet, not the linguistic roots.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Lohe View Post
    I believe he was talking about the alphabet, not the linguistic roots.
    Linguistic roots probably matter more. What is a letter anyway? It's a symbol.

    Bergtau's Law: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability that somebody will mention Godwin's Law approaches 1.
    Hitler wasn't all bad, I mean, he DID kill Hitler.
    An accident is something that you did not mean to do at all. A mistake is something that you regret doing.

  11. #11
    Fluffy Kitten Lohe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bergtau View Post
    Linguistic roots probably matter more. What is a letter anyway? It's a symbol.
    But the alphabet is the same (with few variations) for different languages. The Japanese symbol for cat is not the same in, say, Chinese. Obviously we have different words made up of different letters for whatever it is we want to say but the structure works in a similar way.

    Edit:
    On a very basic level, you can compare a WORD to one of their symbols, but not a letter.
    Another (huge) difference is that you can look at a word and get an idea how to pronounce it,
    you can't look at a symbol and do the same, you just have to know.
    Last edited by Lohe; 2011-11-26 at 11:15 PM.

  12. #12
    High Overlord Sansha87's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinner563 View Post
    Todays machine translaters DO understand grammatical and syntaxical differences in languages. It does not simply translate individual words; rather it understands how the entire sentence is placed together, and does its best to put that into the language of your choosing.

    And, looking at the paragraphs above, it does a damn fine job of it in my opinion. You generally see a lot more issues translating from latin based languages to symbol based, but that is to be expected. I imaging translating from English from Japanese would produce even worse results.
    Yeah English -> Spanish, French and German (and back) tend to translate extremely well from my tests. English -> Japanese, Korean, and Chinese not so much.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by haxartus View Post
    You need to be a bit of a writer to translate properly. A machine can't do it. There is much more to it than most people imagine.
    No. People are machines too. There is no "awesome metaphysical feat" only the glorious human brain can perform.

    However, I'm not sure my dear colleagues are on the right path. They just keep on trying to use statistical learning while more symbolic approaches would probably be better. But, heh, symbolic AI is the "old" AI, right ?

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Authary View Post
    No. People are machines too. There is no "awesome metaphysical feat" only the glorious human brain can perform.

    However, I'm not sure my dear colleagues are on the right path. They just keep on trying to use statistical learning while more symbolic approaches would probably be better. But, heh, symbolic AI is the "old" AI, right ?
    Technically you are right, but we will need an AI with equal to human intelligence to do the translation.
    Today's machines can't do it, and there will be decades before we see something like this in home computers.

  15. #15
    High Overlord Sansha87's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by haxartus View Post
    Technically you are right, but we will need an AI with equal to human intelligence to do the translation.
    Today's machines can't do it, and there will be decades before we see something like this in home computers.
    You really only need one aspect of human intelligence, which is the ability to process and organize words to form proper sentence structure.

    Its just a matter of tweaking and altering code until you reach perfection, I would say we are getting closer.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Sansha87 View Post
    You really only need one aspect of human intelligence, which is the ability to process and organize words to form proper sentence structure.
    Not really.
    Obviously, you have never translated anything serious.
    A good translator would understand the meaning of the sentence and they would not do a word by word translation. Instead, they will create an entirely new sentence with their own words that express the meaning much better. You need to be a bit of a writer to do this, because you are creating new text to better convey a meaning. A good translation requires serious literature skills in both languages.
    English is a very basic language with not very complex structures, so a Japanese->English machine translation might not sound that bad. But try English->Japanese.
    Last edited by haxartus; 2011-11-27 at 11:10 AM.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by haxartus View Post
    Technically you are right, but we will need an AI with equal to human intelligence to do the translation.
    Today's machines can't do it, and there will be decades before we see something like this in home computers.
    There is no problem with today's machines. They're powerful enough. We just need the right algorithms.

    However, (barely) noone's trying to produce an AI "with an intelligence equals to that of a human". Research is mostly focused on performing specific tasks and some (most ?) people think going deeper would be impossible. Those who are real scientists will prefer creating a "different" type of intelligence with similar results through different means.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Authary View Post
    There is no problem with today's machines. They're powerful enough. We just need the right algorithms.
    100 billion neurons with 500 trillion synapses. No home computer can even match even a fraction of that.
    There are a few supercomputers that can, but they consume a few megawatts of power, instead of the 20-40W of the human brain.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by haxartus View Post
    100 billion neurons with 500 trillion synapses. No home computer can even match even a fraction of that.
    There are a few supercomputers that can, but they consume a few megawatts of power, instead of the 20-40W of the human brain.
    Except it has nothing to do with intelligence. That's just computing power.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Authary View Post
    Except it has nothing to do with intelligence. That's just computing power.
    Intelligence IS computing power.
    A monkey has significantly less computing power than a human.
    The humans 5000 years ago had the same computing power as us, but they didn't know how to use it properly.

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