The Problem With “NLP”

“NLP” stands for “Natural Language Processing” — it’s a subfield of Artificial Intelligence that investigates algorithms for dealing with documents written in human languages such as English or Japanese. Various applications for NLP range from machine translation (see:¬†http://translate.google.com/), to automatic summarization of millions of documents, to trying to find one web page out of the trillions that exist. “ASR” (“Acoustic Speech Recognition”) is a closely related field that nevertheless is usually considered separate from NLP. Natural Language Processing is sometimes referred to as “Computational Linguistics”, and sometimes the two fields are considered separate, with NLP as a part of AI and Computational Linguistics more related to Linguistics.

There is a blight, however, on this admittedly somewhat minor but still important field: the abomination known as “Ne*r*-L*ngu*stic P**gramm*ng” (I certainly hope I have obfuscated the name enough to avoid calling the demons here). Searching for “NLP” on both Google and Bing return nearly as many or more results for this pseudo-scientific bullshit as for the legitimate research field. How many people believe in this crap that it has so many top-ranked results? Okay, the top result on Google is the Wikipedia page, which clearly states that the non-AI NLP has been discredited (since the 1980s!). Still. It’s 2012, how long is this pseudoscience going to hang around? (kidding; I don’t seriously think it’s going anywhere anytime soon).

There’s even an nlp.co.jp! (don’t go there, please). Seriously, people will believe anything. It’s depressing.

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