Google Translate Used in Terror Investigation

Broken records be damned, because it apparently needs stating again; it’s not okay to use machines for important translation. Included in the very long list of things that count as “important” are things like medical records, immigration documents, and transcripts being presented in the course of a terrorism investigation by the police.


…yeah. In Denmark, police used Google Translate to present a suspect with a text message which it later transpired meant something entirely different. The Internet giant’s machine translation is widely accepted as a leader of its pack, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to rely on it. It might be a clever computer, but it’s still a computer.


Maybe this all needs to happen. If you knew nothing about the law, the chances are you wouldn’t sue somebody and represent yourself using a free PDF as your guide. If you knew nothing about medicine, you wouldn’t perform surgery on yourself after a quick Wikipedia search. So why do people think that linguistic solutions are one click away, courtesy of an algorithm?


“The police said no other documents had been translated using Google Translate,” but it’s hard not to be skeptical. That’s the thing about machine translation – it’s 90% accurate, but the other 10% is really, really going to hurt.