However, as so often happens, the reality failed to live up the glossy images and hype. By the mid-1960s there was frustration in the United States about the future of machine translation. Then in 1966 came the hammer blow. The influential Automatic Language Processing Advisory Committee (Alpac) published a report on the state of the field, and particularly the success – or lack of – in the analysis and scanning of Russian-language documents for US military use. Its conclusion was damming: “We do not have useful machine translation [and] there is no immediate or predictable prospect of useful machine translation.” The committee effectively recommended a halt to the various research programmes and a return to human translators. It was not until the 1980s, when cheap computing power became available, that research began again in earnest.
Just think what Google Translate could have been now if they hadn’t stopped.