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.