Columns and Letters

Lost in translation

-by Frank Macdonald

    In a world overwhelmed by fake news, it was refreshing to encounter a bit of ‘mistake news’ over the weekend.
    On Saturday, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) posted a weather advisory on Facebook warning people that "The rain will then change into a mix of freezing rain and ice cream on Sunday as temperatures quickly rise in many areas."
    January may not be the preferred month for a downpour of ice cream, but it is a month when a person is more likely to have the leisure time to scoop up a mittful of the stuff and taste it. A torrential downpour of butterscotch ice cream in the middle July, while more welcome in summer’s heat, would probably disappear between the palm of one’s hand and the tastebuds on one’s tongue.
    The OEM apologized for the erroneous forecast, explaining that the forecast had been translated from French to English. Obviously, whatever form of Artificial Intelligence undertook the task proved more artificial than intelligent.
    Mistakes in online posts usually call out the Furies, resulting in furious comments by the utterly humourous. Most people, fortunately, found this post funny, the website’s comments collecting quips such as "this sundae will come complete with drizzle and sprinkles" and "so what you're saying [is] there's a 100 per cent chance of McFlurries?"

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