A few blogs I read this week talk about machine translation: Pascal Grousselle (fr) echoes what Professor Veronis (fr or the english translation), this is a good one to read! They talk about the major player in automated natural languague translation, Systran and its challenger, which seems to be better for English<->French or French<->German translation. Systran is the most popular around major web portals (Altavista, Google, etc.), but Ask.com recently chose Reverso for it's French portal. Pascal adds that sometimes googling expressions is a good way to find translations, I totally agree. I also find that the multilingual interwiki links between articles in Wikipedia is also useful, many articles are translations of other, if not they talk about the same topic so a lot of vocabulary can be learned that way.
Patrick Hall reminds us that translators won't be out of works for a long time. Mostly because building an automatic translation system is too much work to get bad results anyway.
If automated translation is this hard to get for major languages where we have tons of parallel and annotated corpus of texts, where is it going to be at for minor languages? Translators still have a lot of job in that regard. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to translate from and to minor languages. Why translate from English to French, which will be done by machine to a reasonable level pretty soon, when you can translate from English to Zulu or Quechua.
Sweet Ajax translator