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Tag: Google Translate

Google Translate goes AI

Wednesday, 28 September, 2016 0 Comments

From now on, Google Translate will rely more on AI (artificial intelligence) when it translates languages. Alphabet, the parent company, claims that its brand new Google Neural Machine Translation system will reduce errors by 80 percent compared to its current method.

Google Translate Until today, Google has used what is called “phrase-based translation,” which is standard for the industry. With this method, a hand-coded algorithm breaks down a sentence into words or phrases and tries to match them a vast dictionary. The new system will use that same large dictionary to train two neural networks, one of which will deconstruct the original sentence to figure out what it means, while the other generates text in the output language.

Because AI algorithms don’t rely on human logic, they can often find better ways to do the job compared to the hand-coded algorithms, say the engineers. And as the network learns how to translate, no longer spending time dividing sentences into words or phrases, it discards the rules that humans thought were best and concentrates fully on the outcome. Such is the nature of AI. As Alan Turing wrote in 1950: “I believe that at the end of the century the use of words and general educated opinion will have altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted.” (Computing machinery and intelligence). We’re getting there.

Google is releasing its new translation system for Mandarin Chinese first, and then adding new languages over coming months.


“We too want to learn Internet” under a mango tree

Thursday, 12 July, 2012

In mid-May, Boukary Konaté from Mali, who writes the excellent Fasokan blog in Bambara and French, visited the village of Sékoro, where he conducted an “introduction to the Internet” course for local schoolchildren under a mango tree. Google Translate: “This two-hour session was an opportunity for young students to a computer running, plug the USB 3G internet, and go turn a page on Google and do searches.”

The internet on a bike

Language note: The Bambara language is spoken in Mali, Burkina Faso and Senegal by some six million people. Given the colonial history of the region, Bambara uses many French loan words. For example, the Bambara term for snow is niegei, based on the French word for snow neige. As there has never been snow in Mali, the Bambara language has no unique word in to describe it.