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Conferences, conferences!

Can you build your own MT engine?

Recently, I’ve been quite busy attending several virtual conferences, presenting at some of them, and recording videos to be presented at upcoming conferences in the near future.

Two weeks ago I attended and presented at the wonderful virtual conference Together Again (from afar) organized by the Oregon Society of Translators and Interpreters (OSTI). The title of my presentation was “Bias in Neural Machine Translation,” loosely based on this blog post here.

Tomorrow I am honored to be part of a panel discussion “Ask the Experts” at the Innovation in Translation Summit. My pre-recorded presentation entitled “Can you build your own MT engine?” will be featured tomorrow, October 6, and will be live for 24 hours.

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Scam Alert – Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Scam

Scam alert - virus!

This new-ish scam seems to target anyone with a business website, that is, organizations, corporations, businesses, freelancers, etc. The scammers send a warning note through the website contact form or via the stated contact email address. The note contains a warning that the website owner allegedly violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by using copyrighted images. As webmaster of the Northern California Translators Association, I have received several such messages in recent weeks. The scam message contains a link that then downloads a virus and/or ransomware onto your computer.

The full content of the message reads:

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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?)

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What is neural machine translation? How does NMT work? Will it replace human translators? Do machines think? Is the robot apocalypse near?

neural networks

If you are in any way connected with the world of translation and interpretation, you have certainly asked yourself at least one of the above questions about neural machine translation (NMT). These questions are by no means easy to answer. If you ask n experts, you’ll likely get n+1 different answers. Let me quote a few experts:

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