Microsoft AI translates news as well as humans, takes on Google Translate

Madeleine Dean By: Madeleine Dean
2 minute read
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Microsoft recently reached a major milestone in machine translation: its AI algorithms managed to translate news from Chinese into English as well as human translators.

This was a pleasant surprise even for Microsoft’s researchers:

Hitting human parity in a machine translation task is a dream that all of us have had. We just didn’t realize we’d be able to hit it so soon.

Microsoft Translate achieves human parity

Microsoft’s researchers fed the AI system with news from the AI industry for a long time, allowing it to extract complex grammar, syntax and vocabulary patterns.

The Redmond giant also relied on a very useful trial and error learning method. More specifically, the AI system first translated thousands of sentences from Chinese to English, and then back to Chinese in order to improve its logic patterns.

This learning corpus allowed AI to become smart enough so as to translate articles on a parity with bilingual translators.

Further more, the AI also relies on a highly specialized technique called ‘deliberation’ that allows it to toedit its translations just like human translators do.

To reach the human parity milestone on this dataset, […] research labs worked together to add a number of other training methods that would make the system more fluent and accurate. In many cases, these new methods mimic how people improve their own work iteratively, by going over it again and again until they get it right.

The complexity of machine translation is what makes it such as challenging yet rewarding problem. Recent machine translation advancements suggest that one day AI system will indeed be able to translate any text as accurately as human translators.

The latest Microsoft Translate improvements are not available to consumers yet. However, Microsoft is expected to roll them out in the coming months to take on Google Translate.

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