Google Translate is Generating Religious Prophecies

If you type the word "dog" into the left window of Google Translate 19 times and try to translate this "sentence" from Maori into English, what pops up on the right side is pretty bizarre. The expected result will be a 19 times repeated Maori word for "dog", but instead Google Translate generates something that looks like a sinister religious prophecy:

“Doomsday Clock is three minutes at twelve. We are experiencing characters and a dramatic developments in the world, which indicate that we are increasingly approaching the end times and Jesus' return.”

According to, this is just one of many bizarre and sometimes ominous translations that users on Reddit and elsewhere have dredged up from Google Translate — Google’s decade-old service that can now interpret messages in over 100 languages. In Somali, for instance, strings of the word “ag” translate into missives about the “sons of Gershon,” the “name of the LORD,” and references to Biblical terminology like “cubits” and Deuteronomy.

In the meantime those "bugs" were fixed and translations disappeared from Google Translate. But, why was Google Translate acting like a prophet? This is not about ghosts, demons or supernatural forces. There are some different explanations why this is happening, and in the end it comes down to human actions or science. It is possible that some unsatisfied Google employees are playing with the service, or that users are abusing the “Suggest an edit” button which accepts suggestions for better translations of a given text. Science can also give an answer to this question. Google Translate is using some interesting techniques to enhance its translating ability and sometimes a flaw like this can happen.

Alexander Rush, an assistant professor at Harvard who studies natural language processing and computer translation, said to that the strange translations are related to a change Google Translate made several years ago when it started using a technique known as “neural machine translation.” In neural machine translation, the system is trained with large numbers of texts in one language and corresponding translations in another, to create a model for moving between the two. But when it’s fed nonsense inputs the system can “hallucinate” bizarre outputs.

As it turns out, like in a million of "supernatural" situations that drag the attention of "witch hunters" around the globe, there is a logical scientific explanation to this situation as well. Google Translate is just a service run by a machine and programming language and it uses some algorithms to translate what is given to it. A machine is not 100% unmistakable and those algorithms and techniques which help it perform sometimes leads it in a different way.

Photo Credits: Wikimedia

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