TechWire

Google Translate can create wars!!!

We all use the Internet and the tools gifted from it. And, many of us have used “Google Translator”. But did you ever imagine that it can create conflicts? Actually, it can’t create such, solely by itself, but with human intervention? Yeah possible!

Due to the ignorance and carelessness of SOME people, even google translator can become a threat!

google-translate-logo

Technology is there to help people and make their lives easy. However if someone manipulates its original purpose and abuse it, then that will cause many problems. That’s what exactly happened with Google Translator.

Do you remember how the translations happen in good old days when there are no systems build for that? Well, there’ll be the human translator who is familiar with several languages. This person knows so many words, grammar rules, language structure and uses this info to deliver a meaningful sentence in another language. Computers are not intelligent like humans, so even though we feed the structure of a language and other info, it couldn’t give the exact translation that might be given by a professional human translator.

How Google Translate did it?

However, Google found a way to reduce this gap and their initial method they used an algorithm to directly learn the mapping between an input sequence (e.g. a sentence in one language) to an output sequence (that same sentence in another language) and this method is known as Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs). Then they improved it to Phrase-Based Machine Translation (PBMT) which breaks an input sentence into words and phrases to be translated largely independently. Still, these methods weren’t enough to give the natural instinct of the language.

Therefore in most cases, the translation given by old systems lacked the live nature of it.

Recently, Google came up with a new method called Neural Machine Translation (NMT) which considers the entire input sentence as a unit for translation. This method is more successful and the translations are usually more accurate and understandable since it sounds closer to the way people speak the language. As a result of the steady improvement, it’s producing far fewer of those hilarious “Google Translate Fails.”

google-translate-new.png

So what went wrong?

The mechanism they used to build this method has a vulnerability that can be exploited by the wrongdoers. The NMT use previous translations for better and more natural translations.
Besides, when a user searches for a particular phrase, it learns the patterns of words with the corresponding meaning so when each time a user search for something, it learns and improves itself. This simply means it is open for users to suggest the translations on their own.

Did you see the loophole?

That is how to Google translate ended up with translating North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s title “Supreme Leader” into “Mr. Squidward,” a character from the SpongeBob Squarepants cartoon.

In a similar situation last year, google translator repeatedly translated “Rossiyskaya Federatsiya” (Russia’s official name in Russian) into Ukrainian as “Mordor” and the Russian foreign minister’s last name, “Lavrov” as “sad little horse

Google said it was just a glitch but that seemed to be alive for a considerable time.

In another similar situation, some folks have played around the lorem ipsum quote and translated it into a completely irrelevant message. See this,

Lorem ipsum dolor sit
lorem ipsum ips
lorem ipsum lor
lorem ipsum lo
lorem ipsum lorem
lorem ipsum amat
Lorem Ipsum

… translated into this:

Our goal is to
vehicle dimensions
Free of pain
China, elsewhere
Free Internet
China loves
NATO

No joking, it’s not good to mess with people who deal with nuclear power or have political background!!

gooogle-translate-fail

Also, these translation errors can lead to political consequences which can lead to penalties or even to warfare.

Sometimes these misunderstandings can be dramatic too. For instance, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s words at a Moscow reception addressed to the capitalist West — “My vas pokhoronim” — was translated literally as “We will bury you,” and interpreted as a threat.

Khrushchev meant the Communist system would outlive the capitalist one. Furthermore, in a similar situation, President Donald Trump decided that Russian President Vladimir Putin had called him “brilliant” or “a genius,” though the original Russian — “yarkiy” — merely means “colorful.”

However if anybody out for fun could change the North Korean dictator into Squidward, Russia into Mordor and a minister into a sad horse then this is a real problem. But remember although this is a vulnerability of the tool; don’t forget the usefulness of it. Also, people who misuse it are messing up an invaluable service that took years to build.

Finally, it is said bad is never good until the worse happens…. So it’s everyone’s responsibility to use any web tool with caution, to avoid drastic consequences in the future.

Source : Bloomberg

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Pramodi De Silva

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