Imagine, I have an important poetic religious book, written biblical Hebrew and nobody understands it. So I take a 8th grader, offer him good pocket money and ask him to translate this book, with the help of google translator, to English. The kid does it for the pocket money I offered him and look what came out starting with the first line
בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ
Google translates this to:
At the beginning of the day, there is no god but God, and there is no god but God, and there is no god but God.
But to someone who understands biblical Hebrew, the text means:
In the beginning of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth.
This is the result of an automatic translation.
Today I visited a job fair. I wasn’t too serious about it, because I do not fit into these representatives’ prey pattern. Female, 53 years old. You probably agree, you’d never hire someone like me, right? I have a job, it pays my bills. I won’t get rich, but I have nice colleagues. I wouldn’t leave from there without a really good job opportunity.
So there was this guy from Deloitte. It’s a large consulting firm. And this guy at the stand of Deloitte told me about a project they are currently doing. Initially I understood it as if this was an inhouse project with their own software. So he said, that they had this large Cobol written analytical software and the three software engineers who maintaine(d) the software are all well in their 60s. Basically nobody knew how this software worked. They had lost the know how. So, what they are doing is to use a tool, that translates this Cobol code into Java and with that being done, they would be able to analyze the code with modern coverage and reference analyzers…… I objected, that by analyzing the Java code, they still wouldn’t have the know how. They still wouldn’t have a Feature List, nor would they have a specification for the software. They still wouldn’t have the know how.
But it comes much worse. Above, I used an example from natural languages and this example is well portable to artificial languages, because Programmers often use tricks to achieve a goal efficiently and you really have to learn a programming hard and long to be good enough to understand and use these tricks. A software, which just translates code written in one programming language to another, would not understand these tricks and probably misinterpret them. Worse, I’ve never seen code generates which produce good easily human readable code.
Finally that guy said, that it was a customer having that problem and not them. I’m not so sure, whether this was an excuse or the truth, but no matter what, I would never hire at Deloitte. A company that produces a nightmare like this probably has a few more skeletons in the closet.