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£783 sub-vocalize and hear in tongues with subvocal, translations and V2k

£783 sub-vocalize and hear in tongues with subvocal, translations and

[cia_tradecraft] Let's talk! The computer can translate (subvocal speech)

Sun, 30 Oct 2005 13:11:09 -0800

Let's talk! The computer can translate

Friday, October 28, 2005

By Byron Spice, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Stan Jou's lips were moving, but no sound was coming out.

Mr. Jou, a graduate student in language technologies at Carnegie
Mellon University, was simply mouthing words in his native Mandarin
Chinese. But 11 electrodes attached to his face and neck detected his
muscle movements, enabling a computer program to figure out what he
was trying to say and then translate his Mandarin into English.

The result boomed out of a loudspeaker a few seconds later:

"Let me introduce our new prototype," a synthesized voice
announced. "You can speak in Mandarin and it translates into English
or Spanish."

"This is a bit of science fiction," said Alex Waibel, director of the
International Center for Advanced Communications Technologies, "but
it is a vision that we think is very exciting." And where it once
seemed a distant dream, it now is being actively developed thanks to
recent advances in machine translation.

This particular gadget, when fully developed, might allow anyone to
speak in any number of languages or, as Dr. Waibel put it, "to switch
your mouth to a foreign language."

It was one of several translation devices his research group
demonstrated publicly for the first time yesterday in a
videoconference with reporters in Pittsburgh and at the University of
Karlsruhe in Germany.

"We want to make language translation transparent," explained Dr.
Waibel, a computer scientist who holds joint appointments at Carnegie
Mellon and Karlsruhe.

The true centerpiece of the demonstration was the videoconference
itself. As Dr. Waibel spoke, computer software translated his speech
into Spanish and German.

Previous computer systems have translated the spoken word in limited
contexts, or "domains," such as travel or medical information. But
yesterday's demonstration was of so-called "open domain" speech-to-
speech translation, a technically difficult feat to pull off because
the spoken word is often ungrammatical and filled with colloquialisms.

"This is definitely a new frontier," said Kevin Knight, director of
the University of Southern California's Information Sciences
Institute. "If you look in the scientific literature, you couldn't
find too much today on open domain speech translation."

What has made this possible has been a dramatic change in how
computer translation programs are written. In the past, most
translation software has been based on sets of rules -- dictionary
definitions, grammatical rules and such. In other words, programmers
tried to make a computer think like a human.

But increasingly, the trend in artificial intelligence is to allow
the computers to think like computers, using statistical methods to
draw meaning out of masses of information, said Randall E. Bryant,
dean of Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science.

Speech recognition programs began using these statistical methods 15
years ago, Dr. Knight said. Only recently have they been applied to
speech translation "and that's why things have been improving a lot

The availability on the Internet of large amounts of translated text
has been a major boon, said Dr. Waibel.

The results aren't perfect. When Dr. Waibel announced he would take
questions from reporters in Germany and America, the computer heard
it as "so we glycogen it alternating questions between Germany and
America." And the systems don't really understand what they are
translating, so may have trouble sometimes when a speaker tries to be
humorous or ironic.

But he predicted open domain systems could be ready for use within
five years.

"As we make contact, people will be more likely to learn other
languages," Dr. Waibel said. U.S. soldiers in Iraq, for instance, who
have handheld devices that repeat foreign phrases, ultimately have
learned to speak those phrases themselves and discard the machines.


For more information on subvocal speech, visit:

Links > - Gadgets > Brain fingerprinting > Subvocal speech

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