With AI, Google Translates English Wikipedia Articles: First Is To Bahasa Indonesia

There are many spoken languages in the world, and without a doubt, English is the most popular.

Google as the tech giant of the web, announced that it is partnering with Wikipedia to make the encyclopedia's English-only contents more accessible for Indonesian people. The news was delivered at the Google For Indonesia 2018 event held at Ciputra Artpreneur, South Jakarta.

According to the company, more than half of contents Google have is in English, but only one percent is in Indonesian. This lack of information in Indonesian was the reason for the launch.

While the language accounts for only a very small share of the pie, research from Statista said that it still ranks among the top six most widely used language on the internet.

At the event, Google Search product management director Kentaro Tokusei said that Google is using artificial intelligence to translate English-language content into Indonesian.

“Indonesian is the first language for the automatic translator to translate into," he said.

The initiative includes Google in identifying relevant Wikipedia articles that are only available in English, and translate them into Bahasa Indonesia using its AI-powered translation system.

After that, Google surfaces these translated articles in search.

If this collaboration is successful, Google could increase its popularity in Indonesia, as it gathers more text-based data to enhance its translation tool. It could also open up partnerships with other online content providers to widen the reach.

This is certainly a welcome move by the search giant. However, it also brings some question about how accurate and reliable Google's translation is and will be.

A 2016 study by Indonesian researchers from Yogyakarta State University found that Google’s English to Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Indonesia to English translations were only accurate 49.1 percent and 37.1 percent of the time, respectively.

And just like other Google products that speaks different languages, like voice apps, Google Assistant and some others, they are still having difficulties in understanding various languages, accents and dialects.

Speakers at Google for Indonesia 2018
Speakers at Google for Indonesia 2018

At the event, the U.S. tech giant also announced some other products and partnership.

Google entered Indonesia, knowing that the country is the largest in Southeast Asia and one of the fastest-growing market in the region. Since then, the company has invested heavily in the archipelago, including with its training courses offering to over 1 million Indonesian small and medium-sized companies (SMEs).

Google is hoping to see another 1 million Indonesian SME in the close future.

The company has also launched Jobs on Google Search, which allows job seekers and companies in Indonesia to connect with their future employers. Users can browse various job openings by typing the keywords "job opening".

“We have helped more than 100 million people in various countries to find job openings," Tokusei said.

The company also said that its Google Assistant in Bahasa is “becoming even more useful—and even more Indonesian.” For example, people in Indonesian can ask the Assistant to book them rides using 'Book A Ride', all without requiring those users to open apps and type in addresses.

It has an API which can be integrated with internet service providers, where users can ask their phone credit, for example, as well as News Briefing, and other services from third-parties.

Other products the company announced, include Google Go, updates to Google Bisnisku (Google My Business) and an update to Google Maps which allows commuters to know the arrival of Trans Jakarta in real-time.