Google Translate: making artificial intelligence visible

Google Translate has been mocked and banned by teachers for the most part of its history. However, many are not aware that Google Translate has evovled tremendously since launched in 2006 and that is serves 200 million users each day.

Of course, Google translate is far from producing error free tanslations. Yet, it is time for teachers to explore the strengths and pitfalls of the service with their students (who, despite warnings by their teachers are among the most avid users).

google translate.gif

One nice feature of translate is that it produces results as you type along and changes them according to the context (this is also what humans brains have to do when parsing real language). In the following example you can see how Google Translate deals with grammar and vocabulary by disambiguation using the context. The first German word in the example could be the personal pronoun for the third person female or for the third person plural. The German word “Bank” can refer to a bank (financial institution) or to a bench.

Language and IT teachers can use such example to demonstrate to their students how AI and neural networks work as well as how natural languages work and how people process them.

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