DARPA funds automatic language translation project

Real-time translation of television, phone or web sites could come in a few years if the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has its way. Its funding the Global Autonomous Language Exploitation (GALE) project that will aim for 90 to 95 percent accurate translations of Arabic or Mandarin by 2010. Competitors are large companies like IBM, SRI and BBN who must make the grade every year or risk being cut from the project.

Researchers from the three teams will develop software and hardware translators and will compete for five years. The teams will be evaluated at the end of each year to see if progress is being made. The worst team could be cut from further research.

The first year goal is to have 65 percent accurate translations of voice and 75 percent accurate translation of text.