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The shallowness of Google Translate
By Thom Holwerda, submitted by Morgan on 2018-02-05 23:04:48

Such a development would cause a soul-shattering upheaval in my mental life. Although I fully understand the fascination of trying to get machines to translate well, I am not in the least eager to see human translators replaced by inanimate machines. Indeed, the idea frightens and revolts me. To my mind, translation is an incredibly subtle art that draws constantly on one's many years of experience in life, and on one's creative imagination. If, some "fine" day, human translators were to become relics of the past, my respect for the human mind would be profoundly shaken, and the shock would leave me reeling with terrible confusion and immense, permanent sadness.

As a translator myself, I can indeed confirm Google Translate is complete and utter garbage, but the idea that I would "mourn" the end of translators seems outlandish to me. The unstoppable march of technology has eliminated countless jobs over the course of human existence, and if translators are next, I don't see any reason to mourn the end of my occupation. Of course, it'd suck for me personally, but that's about it.

That being said, I'm not afraid of running out of work any time soon. Google Translate's results are pretty terrible, and they only seem to be getting worse for me, instead of getting better. There's no doubt in my mind that machine translation will eventually get good enough, but I think it'll take at least another 20 years, if not more, to get there.

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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-20 -- 21-30 -- 31-40 -- 41-50 -- 51-57
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RE: Machines vs people
By No it isnt on 2018-02-06 16:30:35
Would you hire a translator who didn't know how to say hello in the target language?
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RE[2]: GT not as bad as it used to be, but still
By Temcat on 2018-02-06 16:34:16
I'm not a programmer, but among other things, I localize SW for a big vendor. They do it, too. The results are, again, better than they used to be, but still shit by the common standards of translation industry. I guess they know it too, because they pay me for machine-translated strings the same as for untranslated ones. (Of course, by default, they wanted to pay less for MT strings but I refused, and they didn't even attempt to haggle.)

In narrow contexts, you can get reasonably good results from MT by using tightly-controlled language and being extremely careful with terminology, but that's not always possible. Where I live, I've heard about such setups being used in the energy industry.

Moreover, as an additional complication, now people who write the English source barely speak English themselves. This confuses the hell out of MT engines and meatware translators alike.
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RE[7]: They should take example from
By avgalen on 2018-02-06 17:31:44
I try Japanese fairly regularly because my Japanese is at extreme beginnerslevel and my wife is Japanese. It surely works less well, but it still makes things understandable.

Don't rely on it, don't translate poetry or literature, but treat it like most IT: A useful tool among many tools
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RE: ML and AI are based on the past, on statistic
By Gargyle on 2018-02-06 19:08:51
... implying that human minds are NOT deterministic machines?

How can you be so sure?

A bold claim.
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RE[2]: ML and AI are based on the past, on statistic
By fabrica64 on 2018-02-06 19:15:18
I'm not sure, but I am also not sure human mind IS deterministic and can be emulated by computers. This is something we, humans, love to debate (as computer would never do :-)) and I am not seeing this stopping any time soon.

But I would bet (and feel) it's not deterministic
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Humans suck at language comprehension.
By Bill Shooter of Bul on 2018-02-06 19:34:28
In the United States, its near impossible to get some people to understand plain standard English written at a 7th grade level, even amongst my graduate degree holding peers. If two humans speaking the same language can't understand each other with the frequent explanation of a phrase, I think you are being too hard on the computers. Humans suck at comprehension even more than they do.
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RE[3]: Translate is horrible
By Carewolf on 2018-02-06 20:53:22
Actually, I would think Google Translate is a lot better at translating poetry than actual novels, especially SF ones
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RE[2]: ML and AI are based on the past, on statistic
By Carewolf on 2018-02-06 20:54:30
> ... implying that human minds are NOT deterministic machines?

How can you be so sure?

A bold claim.

Humans are Turing complete and thus at least our termination is indeterminable.
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RE: Translators will never go away
By kwan_e on 2018-02-06 21:36:23
> Some languages are written in a way that two different words can be written with the same letters, and the reader has to know the context to know which word is being used

That's not a problem for computers. Watson showed that contextual understanding is possible, given the right training.

The problem is that language is a moving target, influenced by culture on all time scales at varying proportions, and still spoken more often than written. By the time things get written down, the culture will have already moved on.

So for computers to make progress, they very much have to be equipped with voice recognition, and exposed to language and culture all the time, and it must start to communicate with itself in that language, like we do when we talk to ourselves or thinking of what to say.
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RE[3]: ML and AI are based on the past, on statistic
By kwan_e on 2018-02-06 21:37:48
> > ... implying that human minds are NOT deterministic machines?

How can you be so sure?

A bold claim.

Humans are Turing complete and thus at least our termination is indeterminable.


That definition makes computers not deterministic.
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