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What is next step after the NLP Group finishes the
English to Japanese, German, French, and Chinese versions of NLPWin? Dolan and Richardson see Microsoft packaging their MT technology for sale to other large corporations that need to translate huge bodies of documents. Beyond that, the NLP Group hopes to eventually have their MT system included in a future release of Microsoft Office.
However, creating accurate open-ended Machine
Translation for this popular productivity suite presents a major problem. The system must be capable of translating languages across many domains, with sparse data, which is the opposite of the PSS Knowledge Base translation, where the domain is narrow and plenty of sample data exists. Richardson believes that to overcome this obstacle will require a cooperative effort. He foresees a time when MT systems will link together across the Internet.
"In my personal opinion, the pathway where we start
with Microsoft [internally] and go out to other companies [externally], will eventually lead to many different MT systems on the Internet tuned up for different domains. At some point, they will merge into a 'mega-translator,' where you send in a document, which is then classified for the domain it belongs to, and is passed along to a particular MT system tuned up for that domain, which then will do a reasonable job of translating it," says Richardson.
Microsoft is notorious for developing lucrative software.
Will this mega-translator concept be another such source of income? According to Richardson, probably not. "It's like email-MT is so essential to communication and will become so ubiquitous that no one will make big money with it. Free lower quality MT already exists out on the Internet. Initially, self-customizing, higher quality MT systems will make money, but in the long run, high quality MT will probably also be free," says Richardson.

Don Barker is Senior Editor of PC AI Magazine, and author of twenty-four computer textbooks. Some of the material in this article was gathered with Stuart J. Johnston for a book.

URLs Related to this Article

The NLP Group site is:

IBM Watson Labratory:

Cyc Incorporated:

Other related URLs

The Natural Language Processing FAQ:
www-2.cs.cmu.edu/ Groups/AI/html/faqs/ai/nlp/nlp_faq/faq.html

The Association of Computational Linguistics:

Natural Language Processing and Computational Linguistics
www-a2k.is.tokushima-u.ac.jp/ member/kita/NLP/nlp.html

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16.4 2002

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