Let us speculate about what could be an autonomous MT system. In the present state of MT we provide rules and dictionary to the software (rules-based translation) or we feed it with a corpus regarding a given pair of languages (statistical MT). But let us imagine that we could do otherwises and build an autonomous MT system. We provide the MT system with a corpus regarding a given source language. It analyses, first, the thoroughly this language. It begins with identifying single words. It creates then grammatical types and assigns then to the vocabulary. It also identifes locutions (adverbial, verbal, adjective locutions, verb locutions, etc.) and assigns them a grammatical type. The MT system also identifies prefixes and suffixes. It also computes elision rules, euphony rules, etc. for that source language.
Now the autonomous MT system should, second, do the same for the target language.
The MT system creates, third, a set of rules for translating the source language into the target one. For that purpose, the MT system could for example assign a structured reference to all these words and locutions. For instance, ‘oak’ in English refers to ‘quercus ilex’, ‘cat’ refers’ to ‘felis sylvestris’. For abstract entities, we presume it would not be a trivial task… Alternatively but not exclusively, it could use suffixes and exhibit morphing rules from the source language to the target one.
Is it feasible or pure speculation? It could be testable. Prima facie, this sounds like a different approach to IA than the classical one. It operates at a meta-level, since the MT system creates the rules and in some respect, builds the software.