MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — You might use Google Translate to read a hard-to-find Manga comic book or to decipher an obscure recipe for authentic Polish blintzes. Or, like Phillip and Niki Smith in rural Mississippi, you could use it to rescue a Chinese orphan and fall in love at the same time.
Google is now doing a record billion translations on any given day, as much text as you’d find in 1 million books for everything from understanding school lunch menus to gathering national security intelligence. It translates in 65 languages, from Afrikaans to Yiddish, and can be used on websites, with speech recognition and as an app on mobile phones even if there is no connection.
While the technology is exponentially evolving, Google’s translation guru Franz Och’s face lit up when he heard that the Smiths and their new daughter, 14-year-old Guan Ya, are settling into their new lives together this month communicating almost exclusively through Google Translate.
“All day long I look at algorithms, algorithms and algorithms,” he said. “It is so rewarding to hear that it is touching lives.”
In the Smiths’ case, it changed theirs forever.