Douglas Hofstadter on machine translation

One sometimes comes across some piece of writing that perfectly encapsulates something, and there should be a way to keep such things where they can readily be found.

A ‘pillow book’ used to be such a thing.  Now I suppose it’s a blog.

I can’t remember how I arrived at this piece by the legendary (to me, anyway) Douglas Hofstadter on machine translation, but I want to record the source here.

From my point of view, there is no fundamental reason that machines could not, in principle, someday think, be creative, funny, nostalgic, excited, frightened, ecstatic, resigned, hopeful, and, as a corollary, able to translate admirably between languages. There’s no fundamental reason that machines might not someday succeed smashingly in translating jokes, puns, screenplays, novels, poems, and, of course, essays like this one. But all that will come about only when machines are as filled with ideas, emotions, and experiences as human beings are. And that’s not around the corner. Indeed, I believe it is still extremely far away.