Machine translation had a rough start. So rough that it gave all of Artificial Intelligence a bad name. This is the tale of the first AI Winter.
Last time, Cold War computers were struggling to translate between Russian and English. An early tech demo showed some real promise, and things were looking up for machine translation. Two camps emerged: grammar-focused perfectionists and the statistically-minded brute force crowd. Then another party entered to shut it all down: the ALPAC.
Closer scrutinizing of “the spirit is willing…” translation faux pas:
Deeper examination of the first public demo, including the 6 rules and 49 translations*:
* CORRECTION for these two videos: according to contemporary reports, there were over 60 at the actual demo!
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Music by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com):
BlipStream, Evil March, Phantom from Space, The Lift