s public anger in Hong Kong grew this week over a proposed bill which would allow criminal suspects to be taken to mainland China for trial, net users happened to discover a rather peculiar flaw on Google Translate.
When written in English, the sentence “So sad to see Hong Kong become part of China” was translated into Chinese with the exact opposite meaning with “sad” becoming “happy” (高兴).
a friend showed me this google translation that translates “so sad to see hong kong become a part of china” as “happy” （高興）in chinese pic.twitter.com/85Yl1n3KOQ
— isabella steger (@stegersaurus) June 14, 2019
Any reasons why a simple statement would deliver the opposite translation on Google Translate? Just checked this a few minutes ago: pic.twitter.com/aso2TFrFUg
— Joanna Chiu 趙淇欣 (@joannachiu) June 14, 2019
Weird bug. Someone went out of their way to trick @Google's machine learning / pattern matching.
Only happens with that sentence pic.twitter.com/ghsMe3jyrq
— Trey Menefee (@Comparativist) June 14, 2019
— venuswan (@yiu_724) June 13, 2019
The curious error was replicated by many and screenshots were posted online which evidently caught the attention of the search giant. Google’s Danny Sullivan tweeted out that “we’re looking into why we had this translation and expect to have a fix to resolve it soon.”
We’re looking into why we had this translation and expect to have a fix to resolve it soon.
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) June 14, 2019
And, indeed, the sentence is now being translated correctly. However, it remains unclear how exactly this mistake came about. Google Translate works through a complex system of algorithms and deep learning while also allowing users to make suggestions to improve upon the accuracy of translations.
If some entity really did manipulate this system to turn “sad” into “happy,” it’s unclear why in the world they went to all the bother.