Lost in Translation?

http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/10/07/language.facebook.google/index.html

A while ago, I read the article that I have linked above and it sparked a little research.  The article brings into question two methods of translation that are being implemented by two major Internet sites, Google and Facebook.  Google’s system of translation tends to rely on super intelligent software, and Facebook is using the power of human knowledge.  As many people probably know, I really enjoy watching the Internet develop as it changes the way we communicate, and I certainly utilize it to some extent, but there are some places technology should not go.  I took even a further step back, and looked at the real question, “can a computer even translate?”  Being a current learner of a foreign language and having a decent understanding of Japanese, I decided to give some of the translation sites a try.  In Japanese, none of them even get the right point across.  I’m only speaking from one point of view about the translation of Japanese into English and vice versa, but I think we should stick to people translating and here’s why.

I think that having a computer translate texts and conversations is a function of artificial intelligence, because it would have to have to understand a language on the same level as a person in order to work correctly. A computer can’t understand a language; it only understands the dictionaries and translations that we’ve input into them.  To me, a language is an ever-changing way in which people communicate.  Each person uses his or her language in a different way as well.  I don’t think computers will ever be able to understand every person’s culture, customs, humor, sarcasm, exaggerations, or anything more than single words or short phrases because of this lack of human feelings and such.

In the scheme of things, this topic is really not that important, nor is it that relevant to my blog, but I thought I’d just throw my opinion out there to whoever is reading and get them to think about this for a minute.  Let me know what you think.

One comment

  1. devin · · Reply

    Theodore,

    I agree wholeheartedly. A prime example is located on the right side of your blog. If your Twitter posts were directly translated into Portuguese, there is no way that “My iPod may have a blown CPU now that I’m syncing the rest of the @smallblk album and the new Drummer album 1 day ago” would make any sense at all.

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