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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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RE[4]: ML and AI are based on the past, on statistic
By Carewolf on 2018-02-06 23:49:24
> > > ... 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.


Theoretical infinitely larger computers anyway. But yes, I believe computers can be programmed to be non-deterministic.

The difference is that humans are naturally non-deterministic and can be trained to work deterministic. While current computers are the other way.

Edited 2018-02-06 23:52 UTC
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RE[2]: Translate is horrible
By Poseidon on 2018-02-07 00:39:28
The basic gist is OK for a translation of a 3 word phrase, but if you're trying to translate a page or a sign (a feature that they market as one of the major features), or taking a picture of something complex and with depth such as an essay or a colloquial use of language, it fails horribly.

My uses are more scholar, to which Google Translate is not suitable and definitively misses the contextual analysis of languages, a very important issue when translating things longer than one sentence or with subtle variances in syntax and regional use of words.
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RE[3]: ML and AI are based on the past, on statistic
By weckart on 2018-02-07 08:53:19
That is how Google translate seems to work for many languages: Translate to English first and thence to whatever 'minor' language. Many one word translations from, say, Spanish to Belarusian result in an English word because not enough Belarusian speakers have corrected it.
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RE[4]: ML and AI are based on the past, on statistic
By Kochise on 2018-02-07 19:46:05
Yeap, English as pivot language is the way to go.
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RE[3]: ML and AI are based on the past, on statistic
By zima on 2018-02-07 20:10:51
> But I would bet (and feel) it's not deterministic
And what organ tells you that you are not deterministic, hm? Hint: it's an organ that excels in self-deception (see also: placebo effect; or a list of cognitive biases - that is our main mode of operation)

Meanwhile, fMRI research seems to suggest that even so called "free will" is an illusion... (for example, researchers were able to tell from brain activity, visible on fMRI, what will be the answer to some question before fully meaningful question was asked)

Earlier you say...

> Computers are deterministic machines, have no notion about emotion and will never have.
Ultimately, they will likely be able to simulate a human brain... we already simulate neural systems of simpler beings.
Oh, and human learning is also based on the past, past experience, on ~statistic (what works and what doesn't)
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RE: Humans suck at language comprehension.
By zima on 2018-02-07 20:13:35
> In the United States, its near impossible to get some people to understand plain standard English written at a 7th grade level
Is differentiating "its" from "it's" at 7th grade level? :P
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RE[4]: ML and AI are based on the past, on statistic
By fabrica64 on 2018-02-07 20:28:00
You won't go far if you resort to insults to convince people. And doubt is important to ingenuity.
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RE[5]: ML and AI are based on the past, on statistic
By zima on 2018-02-07 20:29:35
What insults?... And what I wrote in the previous post is precisely about doubt... (of widespread beliefs in our exceptionality)

Edited 2018-02-07 20:42 UTC
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RE[8]: They should take example from
By Lennie on 2018-02-07 20:52:19
Definitely still better than nothing. :-)

Most of the time English/Japanese not such good results, sometimes you get a surprise better result than expected.
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Google Translate
By Cutterman on 2018-02-07 22:27:14
I'm completely bilingual in French & English and recently had to translate a technical (medical) paper that I had written into French.

I thought I'd give Google Translate a chance, just to laugh at the howlers, but it wasn't bad at all.

Spelling was spot on, except when there were ambiguities, and it got all the accents right. The French was rather clumsy, which needed smoothing out, but the grammar was mostly correct. The punctuation was awful, but then French does have all sorts of arcane rules.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well it did, though I probably spent more time editing than I would have done writing from scratch, but not much.

What I _did_ find interesting was that the paper came out some 30% longer - made realise how succinct English can be - e.g., no word for "siblings" in French, it has to be « frères et soeurs » (don't forget the spaces before the guillemets).

MaC
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