I was checking some French using Google translator, and discovered that – contrary to my French teacher’s insistence back in high school – “La langue Francaise” means “English language”!
Of course one doesn’t expect perfection from machine translation, but this was different than the usual silly mistakes: a translation program ought to know the meaning of the name of a language it translates, after all. So can it be that Google, in its staggering growth to encompass all knowledge, has finally reached true intelligence and reasoned that the above translation is correct on some higehr level – the way Douglas Hofstadter pointed out in his immortal “Godel, Escher, Bach” that “Borscht“, when translated from the Russian, may need to be converted to “Campbell soup” to convey its ubiquity in the respective culture?
Nah… not likely. I actually played a little more – for instance, “La langue Francaise” in Italian, according to Google, means “Lingua inglese“, not “Lingua Italiana“. I suppose by posing such questions to the program one could map where the problem lies in its cognitive functions, like one tries to localize brain damage in a patient by mapping input/output relationships in an interview. So is Google Translator a conscious entity after all, albeit a brain-damaged one? 🙂