Google Translate: More Alive Than Ever

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Published: Mon 13th February 2017

Read Time: 3 minutes

Google Translate: More Alive Than Ever

Google most cetainly does not hide its fascination and intrigue for Artificial Intelligence (AI). Very recently, it shocked the world by turning a rather Sci-Fi idea of self-driving cars, into reality. Now, Google is working on the next big thing, AI enhancement – for one of its most popular services – Google Translate.


Previously, the Google Translate system used public inputs on the translation of words and phrases. When faced with long texts, Google was programmed to simply put all these words and phrases together. Most likely, this results in a mishmash of text and subsequent frustration for the reader.


Google Translate 2.0

However, Google Translate no longer relies solely on the translation inputs of the users. It will now be able to translate sentences, whilst taking into account the context of the words. The context will be analysed, and cross-checked, with all the books and articles that can be found on the actual Google search engine. Once again, this is another brilliant way to utilise the vast amount of data stored in the Google ecosystem.


Google uses its own Neural Machine Translation (NMT), a unique internal language, to transfer between different languages. This method is called zero-shot translation. In laymen’s terms, to translate from Japanese to Spanish, Google will not need to go through an English translation as a bridge between those languages. Instead, Google’s machine transfers Japanese sentences into its own NMT, which then translates directly into Spanish. This helps to reduce the translation errors by approximately 60%.


At the moment, they are working on nine languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish. For the future, Google has ambitious ideas for its AI, and plans to expand its language literacy to over a hundred languages. As a machine learning device, it will be improving itself constantly. This suggests that eventually, we will be able to access the perfect and best possible translation of text – that will definitely outperform human translation.


Glimpse Into The Future

The CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, noted that the new invention marks the transition from traditional programming to machine learning. This can mean many things in regards to future development. One of which could be that everyone will be able to access quality translation services. Children, in the developing world, will have access to language learning – without having to purchase expensive dictionaries or grammar textbooks. However, this could also potentially mean that we will become so reliant on Google Translate, that there will be no need for us to learn another language. It could also mark the disappearance of the translator profession.


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