Guy Cicero

For now we see through a glass, darkly….

Natural language

Maybe you’ve heard this one. Back in the 1950s a computer scientist was challenged to test the ability of his mainframe computer to translate from English to Russian and back again.

Using punch cards, he submitted this phrase to the computer, “The flesh is willing, but the spirit is weak,” derived from Matthew 26:41 in the Bible.

The computer replied — there is no record as to how promptly — “The ghost is ready, but the meat is raw.”

The branch of computer science that tries to develop systems that can communicate using human language is called natural language computing. What we behold today as AI is largely based on the vision for a natural or normal, standard, colloquial language as the basis for human-computer conversation.

I spent a decade working on selling COBOL compilers to enterprise IT customers. COBOL was the 1950s answer to using natural language for business computing.

HAL, are you listening HAL? What did I just say, HAL?






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