Google.org recently came up with its Health Speaks crowd-sourcing program. This program encourages community-based, crowd-sourced translations of health information with the assistance of Google Translator Toolkit. Initially started for Arabic, Hindi and Swahili, this program calls for individuals from different region to edit the machine translations of healthcare information found on sites such as Wikipedia.
Undoubtedly, information that may help people improve their health is not readily available online in local languages. This is why this method of producing content from community contributions is expedient. But here in this case we aren’t dealing with a usual press release or an article, translating healthcare information is always involved with a risk factor. A slightest inaccuracy could lead to an embarrassing error or in worst cases may become a potential health risk.
Well I am confident that Google may have taken into account the risks associated with this project and they may be initially sticking to content mostly focused on topics such as health tips, diseases prevention or dietary service, rather than major symptom related diagnosis. However, as long as the target audience understands that the information is not assessed by a medical practitioner, this program will turn out to be good commencement for people looking for health advice in non-English speaking regions.
It is expected that many other organizations may also jump into crowd-sourcing projects with similar propositions. Most of them would prefer machine translation over human linguists, which at the end of the day would preset a quality issue.
What are your suggestions, companies involved in translating critical information such as medical transcriptions should use machine translations or human linguists? Apart from healthcare information, what other subjects may be translated so that they may be beneficial for the local regions and doesn’t involve a high risk factor.