The results come from an IT process, not reasoning! Use it to grasp the overall meaning, but do not rely on it to make decisions or to communicate in another language... You would regret it!
What is it?
A translation generated by an IT program that relies on a Translation Memory (TM) to formulate a Machine Translation (MT). It is not translated by a human being.
Who can do it?
Mr. Google! Just copy a text (a collection of sentences). Mr. Google searches for phrases “close enough” to yours in its basement (a worldwide database). It then retrieves the translations associated to the sentences it has located and sends them back to you (something like if A= B and B= C then A= C). This, in a nutshell, is a Translation Memory (TM).
What about sentences that do not have exact or close matches? It pulls out the dictionary and applies the grammar rules which the programmers built into it and tries to compose the sentence in the language you asked for... So don’t expect it to understand what it is writing, decide whether it is appropriate, or look for alternatives which are better for the context or audience. Such is the limit of Machine Translation (MT): even with a fast processor and a large experience (an archive of previous human translations), it lacks heart, brain, and emotions: these are features you can find only in Human Translators.
When do you need it?
When you need to understand the meaning of a text, even if only in the broadest sense. For example you want to know if a blog or twitter post, a newsletter or a web site are giving a positive or negative review of your company. Or when you need to find sources for your article or research and must figure out if a specific source could be useful.
When do you not need it?
Whenever you need to understand complicated or sensitive subjects or whenever you want to make sure that others understand you!
How is it guaranteed?
It’s not! The service is offered by Google™, and hosted on our web site as a mere courtesy (TheForeignFriend explicitly declines all responsibilities from damages which may arise from the use of such translations).
We offer it for another reason: some state that automated translation yields results readily comparable with those of a professional translator... If this were true why would we bother to take up this much space?