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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[5]: ML and AI are based on the past, on statistic
By ddjones on 2018-02-07 22:59:01
> > > > ... 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.


Uh, no. This is provably false. You can make a machine which is non-deterministic. For example, you can use a radioactive sample to create a true hardware random number generator and incorporate it into the same enclosure as a computer. If you then program the computer to use the RNG, it's output will be non-deterministic. But the source of non-determinism is the quantum uncertainty of the radioactive sample, not the programming of the computer. You can not program a computer to be non-deterministic. Period. Full stop. Any claim to the contrary is either provably false or it is using one of the terms in a non standard way, such as referring to a computer plus hardware RNG device simply as a computer.

Whether or not human beings are non-deterministic is very much an open question.
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more like 5 years
By unclefester on 2018-02-08 01:21:37
Google is switching from rules based translation to deep learning. The new method is already almost as good as human translators for some langauges.
https://www.theverge.com/2016/9/2...

I predict that native or near-native real time translation will be available withing five years for most major language pairs eg English-Spanish.
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RE: Google Translate
By unclefester on 2018-02-08 01:24:44
>
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


English invariably has appropriate words for each and every possible situation. We simply borrow or make up any term necessary eg schadenfreude or weekend.
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RE: There is better...
By nicholasj on 2018-02-08 17:19:42
In Deepl's translation of La Marseillaise:

Aux armes, citoyens,
Formez vos bataillons,
Marchons, marchons!
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons!


becomes...

Guns, citizens,
Train your battalions,
Let's walk, let's walk!
That impure blood
Show us our furrows!

"Let's Walk, let's walk!" is priceless. Not exactly martially motivating. And the less said about furrows the better.

Wikipedia has that stanza as:

To arms, citizens,
Form your battalions,
Let's march, let's march!
Let an impure blood
Soak our fields!
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RE[2]: Translate is horrible
By sj87 on 2018-02-09 16:56:11
> Or perhaps it is already achieving its intended purpose. It allows someone with zero understanding of a certain language to translate a very basic gist of a paragraph, getting at least a basic understanding of the passage.
Translating languages is basically just a proof-of-concept for something much greater – that is teaching machines to understand our communication.

This feat is a cornerstone for integrating robots into our society not only as mere translators but our servants in daily life. Business-wise the applications would have no limit.
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RE: Machines vs people
By zima on 2018-02-09 22:57:23
AI seems to be already better than average human. That's probably enough to bring marked improvement to the world... I'd guess Thom would be fine with a self-driving car that's better than average driver (that would already bring down road accidents/fatalities)
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RE[3]: Translate is horrible
By Vanders on 2018-02-10 11:26:21
> 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.
Not in my experience. I moved the Netherlands, and do not speak anything like sufficient Dutch. I've used Google translate to translate letters from both the local council & the Dutch tax office, and it did an adequate job of allowing me to understand what the letter was about, at least enough for me to home in on the important parts and translate those more accurately.

Google Translate is also perfectly adequate for translating most web pages (via. Chrome's "Translate to..." functionality).
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