Users of Yahoo's Babel Fish are discovering that the translation service they have relied on for years has quietly exited. Instead they are redirect to Microsoft's Bing Translator.
Named after Douglas Adam's fictional simultaneous translation device in Hitchhiker's Guide Galaxy that you could wear in your ear Babel Fish launched in 1999. It was bought by AltaVista in 2003 which in turn was bought by Yahoo later that year.
Since May 31st, 2012 it seems to have vanished off the Internet, a change that hasn't yet been commented on by Yahoo.
Now if you try to access the Babel Fish website you are automatically redirected to Bing Translator. There's a banner that answers the question "Why am I here?" by going to a Microsoft blog post that refers to a "transition" from Babel Fish to Bing Translator.
This is presumably part of the relationship between Yahoo and Bing that started out as being an advertising alliance and then extended to Bing powering Yahoo Search. It may also be a consequence of the recent cut in Yahoo's workforce.
Babel Fish users have had mixed reactions. Some feel that Bing provides superior results. Others are of the opposite opinion.
Bing Translator does offer more languages and more facilities, including web page translation a side by side view that allows you to view both the original and the translated version of a web page at the same time.
Given the controversy surrounding chatbots and the Turing Test, it would seem unwise for neural networks to challenge the same problem. As you might guess, they have and the result is the predictable [ ... ]