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Thanks to machine learning, Google Translate just got a whole lot better

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Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends

Google has always been the go-to place for online translation, but it looks like the company wants to take things to the next level. The company announced Tuesday that it will use machine learning to improve the quality of translation offered by Google Translate. It will provide neural machine translation for nine languages, with more to come.

So far, the languages include English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Turkish, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Google Translate head Barak Turovsky said the new system began rolling out over the past few days, and is currently being used on 35 percent of all translation requests. It will eventually be used in all 103 languages that Google Translate supports.

More: Google Translate 5.0 makes deciphering restaurant menus much easier

“With this update, Google Translate is improving more in a single leap than we’ve seen in the last 10 years combined. But this is just the beginning,” said Google in a blog post. “While we’re starting with eight language pairs within Google Search, the Google Translate app, and website, our goal is to eventually roll neural machine translation out to all 103 languages and surfaces where you can access Google Translate.”

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According to Google, the system uses Google’s self-built tensor processor units, or TPUs, which help give the system a processing time that’s three times faster than on a CPU and eight times faster than on a GPU. Turovsky says the company can also use multilingual neural nets for languages that are similar linguistically — like Korean and Japanese.

Google has been putting a pretty heavy emphasis on machine learning, and that’s only likely to continue. Just recently, the company launched its new digital assistant, aptly called Google Assistant, which is artificially intelligent and aims to help users with day-to-day tasks in their digital lives — like conducting searches, managing calendars, and so on.