Machine learning has boosted Google’s translation capabilities to near-human levels

Google No one would accuse Google Translate, the favored tool of unscholarly high school language students everywhere, of being an inaccurate interpreter.  The 10-year-old internet interpreter can fluently translate more than 100 tongues, recognize foreign restaurant menus and signage, and differentiate between dialects in real time. But there’s always room for improvement, and in Translate’s case, it’s occurring through  machine learning . The project is called Google Neural Machine Translation, or GNMT, and it isn’t strictly speaking new. It was first employed to improve the efficiency of single-sentence translations, explained Google engineers Quoc V. Le and Mike Schuster, and did so ingesting individual words and phrases before spitting out a translation. But the team discovered that the algorithm was just as effective at handling entire sentences — even reducing errors by as much as 60 percent. And better still, it was able to fine-tune…


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