Google: Translation King?

March 1, 2017

I read “Google’s AI Software Wins Top Score among Machines in Translation Battle.” Good news for the GOOG. The company recently limited free online translation, and I noted when I was translating a test passage from Persian to English that the free Google system truncated the passage, a problem which did not plague the system. Persian is a bit more of hill climb than translating Spanish to Italian, but the unpredictable behavior was telling.

The write up, however, encountered no glitches it seems. I learned:

Artificial intelligence language software by US Internet giant Google Inc., scored higher than its rival AI machines in a translation battle between humans and machines held in South Korea [in February 2017].

The Google system made kimchi of four human translators, Systran (a go to fave for many years), and the Naver system (anyone remember Naver search?).

The Google system performed well, according to the “real” news outfit Korea Herald:

the organizers said the four professional translators scored better in translating random English articles — literature and non-literature — into Korean and other Korean articles into English than the machines. Of the machines, Google scored a total of 28 out of 60, followed by Naver’s automated translation app called Papago with 17 and Systran with 15, the tech company officials with knowledge of the matter said.

Yikes. Humans did better. No guaranteed annual income for these folks.

Who lost the battle? Systran International.

The factoid I noted was: “The new systems considered an “entire sentence as one unit.”

But humans? Better.

Stephen E Arnold, March 1, 2017


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