Why the world needs human translators

I had a wild, random thought as I was walking Charlie and Sallie this afternoon. What if I ran a sentence in English through Google Language and got another sentence in another language. Then, I ran that result back again and had it translate back into English. Would the result be the exact same?

So, here it is:
  The quick red fox jumped over the lazy sleeping dog.
Translated into French:
  Le renard rouge rapide sauté par-dessus le chien paresseux sommeil.
Translated back into English
  The quick red fox jumped over the lazy dog sleep.

Hmmm.. a dog named sleep? 🙂 The translation is kinda close, close enough that our human brains can make the correction on the fly. But what if we then translated the result again, then again, then again until perhaps the meaning was entirely lost and all we were left with was a jumble of words that were all correctly translated, but had no meaning in context with each other?

As it turns out, Google Language probably anticipated this at some time and a translation gives you the original, but the first translation was just a bit “off,” off enough to start a chain reaction of misunderstandings and unanticipated translations.

Yet we do this all the time when we fail to read a story behind a headline, when we retweet a tweet without reading the linked article first, when we allow machines to sort through resumés and give us the top ten qualified candidates, when we qualify someone for a loan based on a compiled score instead of their character and when we formulate an opinion about someone, relying on gossip that someone said about someone who said something about someone.

Do your own homework. Source your own material. Formulate your own thoughts. Listen for yourself.

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