At IBM, a team of nearly 100, including mathematicians and software developers, is working on a project to create an automatic translation tool that has the speed and accuracy to be used in instant messaging between speakers of two different languages, reports the New York Times. The project, called n.Fluent, is intended to teach the computer terminology that is specific to IBM’s businesses. To that end, the company is extracting and organizing contributions from IBM’s 400,000-member work force spread across more than 170 countries, adding a human touch to the project. Over a two-week period last month, the company issued a "worldwide translation challenge" to its employees, using a points-based system to award the biggest contributors prizes that were converted to charitable donations. About 6,000 IBM employees made improvements in 11 languages to more than two million words of text translated by n.Fluent.  "From this parallel data, we update the models," said Salim Roukos, an IBM researcher in language-related technology. "You want to learn the idiomatic expressions–when you say someone has kicked the bucket, you don’t want that translated word for word." So far, n.Fluent is used only by I.B.M. employees, but the intention is to create a product that can be sold to other businesses. Efforts like this amount to a new twist on "crowdsourcing," or the act of taking a task normally performed by an employee or contractor and issuing an open call for a large group of people or a community to perform it…

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