Any jokes about Google becoming a self-aware, humanity-destroying robot got a little closer to fruition yesterday. Google Talk (download the desktop widget), Google's homemade Jabber-based chat client, is now host to 24 (and counting) new translation bots that will take whatever text you throw at it and convert it to the appropriate language. Each of the bots was built with an open protocol called XMPP that lets anyone build their own bots and share them on the Google Talk network--as long as you've got some place to host them.
The new bots become particularly useful if you invite one into a group chat with one or more users who speak a different language. The bot will automatically translate the conversation so each user can understand one another, which you can see on the screenshot to the left.
The translation bot project was the result of some of the Google Talk team's 20 percent rule, Google's somewhat infamous option of having software engineers spend one day a week working on side projects. Besides bots, some of the other services that have come out of 20 percent time have been AdSense, Orkut, keyboard shortcuts in Google Reader, and Google News.
[Via Google Talkabout]