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Google Translate Tells User About End Times When 'Dog' Typed in Multiple Times

Google Translate Tells User About End Times When 'Dog' Typed in Multiple Times

An exterior view of Google's headquarters, also known as Googleplex, in Mountain View, California, US as taken on Apr. 13, 2014. | (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Noah_Loverbear)

If a user of Google Translate keys in "dog" 19 times, when translating from Maori to English, a message about the end times and the return of Jesus will appear.

"Doomsday Clock is three minutes at twelve," Google Translate's translation reads.

"We are experiencing characters and a dramatic developments in the world, which indicate that we are increasingly approaching the end times and Jesus' return."

The Maori language is the tongue of the indigenous people of New Zealand.

Although this is not the first unusual output to appear in the language interpretation utility, this particular rendering has struck many as odd and was reportedly first discovered by Motherboard, a publication of Vice.

The Christian Post entered "dog" 19 times into Google Translate, using Maori as the detected language as other users have done, and received the same response.

This is not the only semi-religious message that appears.

When the word "ag" is entered multiple times, with the receptor language either Irish or Somali, Hebrew-sounding messages that resemble portions of the Old Testament result.

Some are wondering if the reasons for the strange results might be because they were drawn from text gathered from private messages or emails while others speculate it is the work of spiritual forces.

Yet the search engine giant maintains that is not the case.

"Google Translate learns from examples of translations on the web and does not use 'private messages' to carry out translations, nor would the system even have access to that content," Justin Burr, a Google spokesperson, told Vice in an email Friday.

"This is simply a function of inputting nonsense into the system, to which nonsense is generated."

Yet others say that the weird results are due to the translation utility searching for order in chaos.

Sean Colbath, a scientist with BBN Technologies who works on machine translation, noted that the languages that yield the oddest results are smaller languages that are not widely spoken, like Maori, and have smaller bodies of translated text than languages spoken across the globe such as English or Chinese. He suggested that it is possible that Google used religious texts like the Bible, as it has been translated into many languages, to train its model in those languages.

When Vice asked if Google Translate's training materials include religious texts, Google's spokesperson declined to respond.

Writing in The Next Web Saturday, Tristan Greene mused: "In a twist nobody could see coming, we're going to say that it's at least cosmically possible that the [artificial intelligence] is functioning exactly as it's intended — because it's alive, found religion, and is now proselytizing."

Google Translate was launched in 2006 and can now provide translations of over 100 languages.

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