Intelligent Machines

Best of 2014: How Google "Translates" Pictures into Words Using Vector Space Mathematics

In December, Google engineers trained a machine-learning algorithm to write picture captions using the same techniques it developed for language translation.

Translating one language into another has always been a difficult task. But in recent years, Google has transformed this process by developing machine translation algorithms that change the nature of cross cultural communications through Google Translate.

Now that company is using the same machine learning technique to translate pictures into words. The result is a system that automatically generates picture captions that accurately describe the content of images. That’s something that will be useful for search engines, for automated publishing and for helping the visually impaired navigate the web and, indeed, the wider world.

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