Meta wants you to understand anyone, from anywhere, no matter which language they speak. To achieve this the company is looking to build a universal, instantaneous speech translator, capable of translating any language to any other language -- including languages that are primarily spoken. Mark Zuckerberg announced this goal during an AI-focused event Wednesday, describing it as a key step toward a world-encompassing metaverse. "The ability to communicate with anyone in any language -- that's a superpower people have dreamed of forever, and AI is going to deliver that in our lifetimes." Meta's ambitious universal translation project is part of a broader push to build out the company's translation capabilities for the metaverse.
Google says it's made progress toward improving translation quality for languages that don't have a copious amount of written text. In a forthcoming blog post, the company details new innovations that have enhanced the user experience in the 108 languages (particularly in data-poor languages Yoruba and Malayalam) supported by Google Translate, its service that translates an average of 150 billion words daily. In the 13 years since the public debut of Google Translate, techniques like neural machine translation, rewriting-based paradigms, and on-device processing have led to quantifiable leaps in the platform's translation accuracy. But until recently, even the state-of-the-art algorithms underpinning Translate lagged behind human performance. Efforts beyond Google illustrate the magnitude of the problem -- the Masakhane project, which aims to render thousands of languages on the African continent automatically translatable, has yet to move beyond the data-gathering and transcription phase.
More than 7,000 languages are currently spoken on this planet and Meta seemingly wants to understand them all. Six months ago, the company launched its ambitious No Language Left Behind (NLLB) project, training AI to translate seamlessly between numerous languages without having to go through English first. On Wednesday, the company announced its first big success, dubbed NLLB-200. It's an AI model that can speak in 200 tongues, including a number of less-widely spoken languages from across Asia and Africa, like Lao and Kamba. According to a Wednesday blog post from the company, NLLB-200 can translate 55 African languages with "high-quality results."
Meta has announced that it has built and open-sourced'No Language Left Behind' NLLB-200, a single Artificial Intelligence (AI) model that is the first to translate across 200 different languages, including 55 African languages with state-of-the-art results. Meta is using the modelling techniques and learnings from the project to improve and extend translations on Facebook, Instagram, and Wikipedia. In an effort to develop high-quality machine translation capabilities for most of the world's low-resource languages, this single AI model was designed with a focus on African languages. They are challenging from a machine translation perspective. AI models require lots and lots of data to help them learn, and there's not a lot of human-translated training data for these languages.
This piece is part of the Slate 90, a series that examines the multibillion-dollar nonprofit sector. Read all stories from the Slate 90 here, and view the Slate 90 nonprofit rankings here. American Bible Society was founded in Manhattan, New York, in 1816 with the "sole object" of encouraging wider circulation of the Bible throughout the world. It was a project whose obstacles soon became clear, as John Jay, the founding father and first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court who served as the society's second president, put it in 1822. "The languages of the heathen nations in general being different from the Christian nations, neither their Bibles could be read, nor their missionaries be understood by the former," he said.