Beating the likes as Google Translate, a UN agency have now developed a translation machine that outperforms any other technology used to translate languages used in patents.

The new translation machine is called Wipo Translate and is developed by Francis Gurry, director-general of the World Intellectual Property Organisation, Financial Times writes.

“We have achieved better results than Google Translate on patent translations,” said Mr Gurry. “With a very small team here working with a university network, we have been able to beat an extremely well-financed company.”

Wipo is a result to a cooperation between  academic experts in the field of artificial intelligence from Edinburgh and Montreal University, and software engineers. Together they worked on a “neural network” technology, that accurately translates the technical language that patents are usually written in, and creating a more ‘natural word order’ than previous systems.

The technology performs very well when compared with competitors and when applied to languages that are very different, and was initially trained to translate Chinese, Japanese and Korean documents into English. Knowing how to translate these three languages is essential as more than half of all worldwide filings are written in Chinese, Japanese and Korean. However, the app is looking to expand its range of languages over time.

“We understand that the growth rate in Chinese patents has been 40 per cent in the first six months of this year,” Mr Gurry told the Financial Times, as as many as three patents per minute are published in Chinese.

So how does the technology of Wipo work? The computers are designed to function as a neural network, and are taught to translate from Chinese to English by comparing 60m sentences from Chinese documents, issued by China’s State Intellectual Property Office, with their official English versions filed at the US Patent Office, which were produced by human translators.

Assessing the quality of Wipo it was compared with Google Translate and the European Patent Office’s Translate System, where it outsourced both. The technology is primarily optimised for patent translations at Wipo, but it will be shared among other UN bodies depending on translation, such as Food and Agriculture Organisation, the International Telecommunication Union, the International Maritime Organisation and the World Trade Organisation.

Universities and non-profit organisations will gain access to Wipo according to Mr Gurry, whereas companies might have to pay a fee that is based on the public broadcasting model. The aim is to earn enough to cover the investment costs, Gurry told FT.

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