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.