The Google Translate rabbit hole (Translategate)

It’s been a while since I last did something different on this blog so I decided to write this post which I’ve been thinking about for quite a while. The mysterious Somali Google Translate results.

I first came across this a couple of years ago while watching a few YouTubers were exploring this alongside a few other internet mysteries. At first, it seemed to be some random bug since some of the results were just too random to be anything malicious plus some of the results which they were talking about never really showed up for me.

But I got bored and decided to test it out again at first with some of the things other people tried out which is the “Are you a murderer or not” sentence divided by two letters and translated from Somali to English. First I tried the original and then did some modifications:

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Now this, at first glance is very creepy. But, it is quite a stretch. You have to dissect the English words in order to get a specific response. Even so, even by doing that the translation which you get is nonsensical. Safe to say, it is still odd whatever the reason might be. It was odd but not odd enoguh, so I decided to dig deeper. Continuing on with the main tool to get results I looked up more phrases and got some interesting results:

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Well, to answer your question Google, no I do not.

From there on I decided to try out some questions for myself (of course the creepier the better to get some fun results):

kill

kill1

kill3

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(of course, I had to try my name too)

The thing with these answers is though, it is not impossible to find a logical answer, maybe the AI is recognizing and interpreting words in a certain way so it is giving us this answer or something similar so it really doesn’t seem that odd once you start thinking about it. However, here is where things get interesting. When you start typing random words or letters you can get different results:

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Many people even claimed that they came across messages which showed quotes from religious texts like the most well-known example of the word “Dog” (photo found on NYpost):

But I did not manage to find this text while using the translation. Not only this example but many others which other people managed to find before which showed a lot of scripture quotes. The best I could find was:

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And some people even managed to find what it seemed to be very personal conversations. Which is not surprising considering I found similar things too:

en en en en en en en en en en en enen en en en en en enen en en en enen en en enen en enen enen

As much as I would like it to be something unexplainable or supernatural at work I do not really think so. AI can be weird and unpredictable at times and it is most likely being fed texts and books that are in the public domain and translated in multiple languages in order to master the translation itself. It would explain why not every translation keeps showing up for different people at different times since it probably already went through those texts.

Whatever it could be, it is a very fun and creepy rabbit hole that can keep you entertained for a good amount of time. What are your thoughts on it?

 

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