"Machine translation (MT) is the application of computers to the task of translating texts from one natural language to another. One of the very earliest pursuits in computer science, MT has proved to be an elusive goal, but today a number of systems are available which produce output which, if not perfect, is of sufficient quality to be useful in a number of specific domains."
– Definition from the European Association for Machine Translation (EAMT).
In a bid to make transformer models even better for real-world applications, researchers from Google, University of Cambridge, DeepMind and Alan Turing Institute have proposed a new transformer architecture called "Performer" -- based on what they call fast attention via orthogonal random features (FAVOR). Believed to be particularly well suited for language understanding tasks when proposed in 2017, transformer is a novel neural network architecture based on a self-attention mechanism. To date, in addition to achieving SOTA performance in Natural Language Processing and Neural Machine Translation tasks, transformer models have also performed well across other machine learning (ML) tasks such as document generation/summarization, time series prediction, image generation, and analysis of biological sequences. Neural networks usually process language by generating fixed- or variable-length vector-space representations. A transformer however only performs a small, constant number of steps -- in each step, it applies a self-attention mechanism that can directly model relationships between all words in a sentence, regardless of their respective position.
Together with the rise of the Internet, access to large repositories of data has helped machine learning technology grow exponentially. The incredibly quick pace of growth was unprecedented. As a result, it is obvious that AI will make a significant impact on the world in the years to come. However, with the numerous established and emerging fields of AI around today, such a blanket statement doesn't provide much concrete meaning. What fields and applications of AI are receiving the most investment and development?
A new batch of Machine Translation tools driven by Artificial Intelligence is already translating tens of millions of messages per day. Proprietary ML translation solutions from Google, Microsoft, and Amazon are in daily use. Facebook takes its road with open-source approaches. What works best for translating software, documentation, and natural language content? And where is the automation of AI-driven neural networks driving?
In April 2019, following the Easter Sunday bomb attacks, the Government of Sri Lanka had to shut down Facebook and YouTube for nine days to stop the spreading of hate speech and false news, posted mainly in the local languages Sinhala and Tamil. This came about simply because these social media platforms did not have the capability to detect and warn about the provocative content. India's Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) wants lectures on Swayama and NPTELb--the online teaching platforms--to be translated into all Indian languages. Approximately 2.5 million students use the Swayam lectures on computer science alone. The lectures are in English, which students find difficult to understand. A large number of lectures are manually subtitled in English.
Fueled by improvements in speech recognition, machine learning, better algorithms, cloud processing, and more powerful computing devices, the quality of machine translations is improving. Learning another language has never been a simple proposition. It can take months of study to absorb the basics and years to become fluent. Of course, there's the added headache that learning a language doesn't help if a person encounters one of the world's other 7,000 or so languages. "There has always been a need for human translators and interpreters," says Andrew Ochoa, CEO of translation technology firm Waverly Labs.
The use of multilingual translation tools is expanding in Japan, where foreign workers are expected to increase in the wake of April's launch of new visa categories. A growing number of local governments, labor unions and other entities have decided to introduce translation tools, which can help foreigners when going through administrative procedures as they allow local officials and other officers to talk to such applicants in their mother languages. "Talking in the applicants' own languages makes it easier to convey our cooperative stance," said an official in Tokyo's Sumida Ward. The ward introduced VoiceBiz, an audio translation app developed by Toppan Printing Co. that covers 30 languages. The app, which can be downloaded onto smartphones and tablet computers, will be used in eight municipalities, including Osaka and Ayase in Kanagawa Prefecture, company officials said.
Google is working to reduce gender bias in its Google Translate tool after it was accused of sexism for automatically translating sentences to include masculine pronouns. Translations from English into French, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish will also now provide a feminine alternative as well as a masculine one for gendered words such as "strong" or "beautiful." In the past, Google's algorithm had to choose between masculine or feminine when translating a word - automatically defaulting to masculine in many instances. Additionally, the tool will offer gender-specific translations for phrases and sentences from Turkish to English. The update comes after two Stanford University professors pointed out that the artificial intelligence used by Google Translate was converting news articles written in Spanish to English by changing phrases referring to women into "he said" or "he wrote."
When Google Translate converts news articles written in Spanish into English, phrases referring to women often become'he said' or'he wrote'. Software designed to warn people using Nikon cameras when the person they are photographing seems to be blinking tends to interpret Asians as always blinking. Word embedding, a popular algorithm used to process and analyse large amounts of natural-language data, characterizes European American names as pleasant and African American ones as unpleasant. These are just a few of the many examples uncovered so far of artificial intelligence (AI) applications systematically discriminating against specific populations. Biased decision-making is hardly unique to AI, but as many researchers have noted1, the growing scope of AI makes it particularly important to address.
Google Translate has become the internet's go-to resource for short, quick translations from foreign languages. The service was first launched in April 2006, seeing off early competition from the likes of Babel Fish. It now boasts more than 500m users daily worldwide, offering 103 languages. But how exactly does it work? How does Google News actually work?
Last fall, Google Translate rolled out a new-and-improved artificial intelligence translation engine that it claimed was, at times, "nearly indistinguishable" from human translation. Jost Zetzsche could only roll his eyes. The German native had been working as a professional translator for 20 years, and he'd heard time and time again that his industry would be threatened by advances in automation. Every time, he'd found, the hype was overblown--and Google Translate's makeover was no exception. It certainly wasn't the key to translation, he thought.