Translation mistakes embarrass Tencent at high-profile meeting
Tencent used software to display real-time translation at Boao Forum attended by Xi Jinping
Humans may not need to worry about losing their jobs to Tencent’s software translator any time soon, after it made a less than satisfactory debut at the high-profile Boao Forum.
But it doesn’t appear to have worked very well.
In several widely circulated screenshots on social media, the software produced meaningless results, showing scrambled characters and repetitive words, and sometimes broken Chinese.
For example, it translated the “Belt and Road” Initiative -- one of Beijing’s most prized projects -- as “a road and a waistband.” Tencent blamed the speaker for this, saying it was because they said “Road and Belt” instead, confusing the software.
Anyone who’s used translation software knows it’s rarely 100% accurate. But by putting it at such a high-profile event, Tencent only gave the system a bigger platform to magnify the times when it did fail.
Tencent isn’t the first to try real-time translation. Microsoft has demonstrated it in Skype, and Google made it a selling point for their Pixel Buds wireless headphones.