"A computer that translates "natural language" is the holy grail of artificial intelligence—language being so integral to our intelligence and to our humanness that to crack it would be to achieve artificial consciousness itself. But until relatively recently, attempts at it have mostly sucked. They’ve tended to mix the words of one language with the grammar of the other, getting both wrong in the process. Mostly, this is the fault of literal translation—the kind of process that translates kindergarten as children garden. Newer methods—dominated by Google—turn the problem around: Using data, statistics, and brute force, they succeed in part by their refusal to "deconstruct" language and teach meaning to computers in the traditional way."
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