Climbing the Tower of Babel: Perfecting Machine Translation
Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States
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Language has always been the keystone to understanding. By 2035, technological advancements in machine intelligence and translation hold the promise of dissolving language barriers and finally bringing transparency to this greatest challenge. The citation above, by Professor Patrick Winston, Director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1972 to 1997, describes a logical solution to the existential conflict of our time. The citation encompasses the concepts of knowledge, speed in decision-making, and machines with human intelligence. Fundamentally, it is about understanding.2 Taken in a larger view, understanding is relevant not just for our current conflicts, but for all times of conflict and peace, to include humanitarian crises, diplomatic dealings, and routine military operations. In all of these cases, understanding other humans is of paramount importance. As a result, unlocking and deciphering language, and therefore meaning, via perfect machine translation MT would be an essential weapon in Americas arsenal.