Sunday, October 07, 2018

The cyborg's Talmud?

TALMUD WATCH: The Algorithms Translating Talmud. A new edition of the Babylonian Talmud has human translators collaborating with advanced algorithms (Simone Somekh, Tablet Magazine). No, AI is not translating the Talmud. Not yet. But this article tells about the algorithms that are aiding the translators of the new Italian translation of the Talmud.
The small team of developers Piperno recruited knew that no existing translation software could handle this type of work; new algorithms were needed. Based in Rome, the group created a computer-assisted translation software that memorizes all translations performed by the human collaborators, storing them into a cloud in order to facilitate future ones. They named it “Traduco,” which means “I Translate” in Italian.

The translators divide the text into paragraphs and strings, then select the portion they want to translate; the software searches for similar excerpts and corresponding translations in its database and offers the translators a list of suggestions.

“The software has ultimately become an excellent tool for analysis of the text itself and of the quality of the translations,” Michael Dollinar, an IT manager who worked on Traduco, told Tablet.

He explained that the software doesn’t translate the Talmud; it makes suggestions to the human translator, increasingly developing an interconnectivity between different passages that no other translation software allows. This feedback loop is meant to enhance the work’s overall accuracy and coherence.
This is a remarkable use of algorithms that, in effect, makes the human translators into cyborgs with machine-level precision of memory.

Background on the Italian translation of the Talmud is here and links. Cross-file under Technology Watch and The Singularity Is Near.

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