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To reduce gender biases, Google starts rolling out a gender-specific translation

Google has begun rolling out a feature that provides feminine and masculine translations for some gender-neutral words.

Reported by: India TV Tech Desk, New Delhi [ Published on: December 07, 2018 17:30 IST ]
Image Source : PIXABAY/FIRMBEE

To reduce gender biases, Google starts rolling out a gender-specific translation

In order to reduce gender biases in context to translation services on Google Translate website, Google has begun rolling out a feature that provides feminine and masculine translations for some gender-neutral words.

Google is planning on bringing this in many languages soon and is currently available in only a few languages.

With this, people will now be able to translate single words from English to other languages like Italian, French, Portuguese or Spanish. As if now, translations for short phrases and sentences that mention people in a gender-neutral way is available for English and Turkish language pair.

"In the future, we plan to extend gender-specific translations to more languages, launch on other Translate surfaces like our iOS and Android apps, and address gender bias in features like query auto-complete," James Kuczmarski, Product Manager, Google Translate, said in a blog post on Thursday. 

Google Translates and learns from hundreds of millions of already-translated examples that are there on the web.

Historically, it has provided only one translation for a query, even if the translation could have either a feminine or masculine form. 

So when the model produced one translation, it inadvertently replicated gender biases that already existed. 

For example, it would skew masculine for words like "strong" or "doctor," and feminine for other words, like "nurse" or "beautiful."

"Now you'll get both a feminine and masculine translation for a single word - like 'surgeon' when translating from English into French, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish," Kuczmarski said. 

"You'll also get both translations when translating phrases and sentences from Turkish to English. For example, if you type 'o bir doktor' in Turkish, you'll now get 'she is a doctor' and 'he is a doctor' as the gender-specific translations," Kuczmarski said.

This new feature by Google is an effort to promote fairness and help in reducing bias in Machine Learning.

Google said it is also thinking about how to address non-binary gender in translations, though it is not part of this initial launch.

(With IANS inputs)

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