OffbeatGoogle is fixing gender bias in its Translate service
Fearful of bias, Google blocks gender-based pronouns from new AI tool
Alphabet Inc's Google in May introduced a slick feature for Gmail that automatically completes sentences for users as they type. Tap out "I love" and Gmail might propose "you" or "it." But users are out of luck if the object of their affection is "him" or "her." Google's technology will not suggest gender-based pronouns because the risk is too high that its "Smart Compose" technology might predict someone's sex or gender identity incorrectly and offend users, product leaders revealed to Reuters in interviews.
Google Translate has previously displayed signs of gender bias by assigning genders to certain adjectives and words describing occupations. Thankfully, the company’s rolling out an update to fix this.
The company said that after the update, Google translate will provide both feminine and masculine translations for gender-neutral words:
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.”
Google CEO Sundar Pichai will face Congress next week
Google CEO Sundar Pichai will testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Dec. 5 at 10 a.m., according to a release from the committee. Pichai will be asked about potential bias in the platform and transparency around Google's practices. Google previously declined to send the CEO to a hearing with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Google CEO Sundar Pichai is expected to testify in front of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on Dec. 5 at 10 a.m.
Right now, this update is applicable to translations from English to French, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish. Additionally, when you translate from a gender-neutral language like Turkish, you’ll get two results as shown below:
You can try out Google Translate on the web here to test the company’s claims. The search giant said that it’ll roll out these improvements to Translate’s iOS and Android apps soon.
The Mountain View company noted on the blog that it’s determined to remove gender bias from its products, and it’s working on improving the auto-complete feature for search queries next. Recently, Google removed some auto-complete suggestions from Gmail, as they were leaning towards one gender.
It’s good to see companies working on removing gender bias in technology products. While such biases are essentially a reflection of how humans use these tools, experts have warned that it can hardwire sexism in people – so it’s important to adjust for that and build technologies to serve humanity better.
New bug prompts earlier end to Google+ social network.
Google said Monday it will close the consumer version of its online social network sooner than originally planned due to the discovery of a new software bug. The Google+ social network will close in April -- four months earlier than planned -- and the internet giant will focus on operating a version tailored for businesses, according to G Suite product management vice president David Thacker. Application programming interface programs (APIs) used by developers to access Google+ data will be shut down within 90 days, according to Thacker.
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