Archives May 2021

Is neural machine translation sexist?

Robot apocalypse and AI bias

So, now I have your attention with that title, let’s delve into the real, less anthropomorphizing question: Is neural machine translation (NMT) biased? I was inspired to write this blog post after watching the documentary Coded Bias (available on Netflix) and a follow-up panel discussion entitled “Is AI racist?” (AI = artificial intelligence). Obviously, I borrowed the title for this blog post from that panel discussion. I highly recommend watching the aforementioned movie, if you haven’t already.

As a white Western European female, I don’t have first-hand experience with racism, so am therefore not really qualified to write a blog post about NMT and racist bias. However, as a female with two advanced STEM degrees (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), I do know a thing or two about gender bias. I was once told at the beginning of a physics lecture at university that

a woman’s place is in the kitchen.

This is, in fact, a verbatim quote, but I won’t mention names or other details to protect the guilty. Given that I am the world’s worst cook, I did not heed that “advice.” (How many other people do you know who have managed to explode an oven while trying to bake a cake?)

Read More