Google has been making an effort across all of its services this year to reduce gender bias in machine learning. Its latest move is to address gender bias by providing gender specific translations for some languages on Google Translate, one of the most widely used online services for translation.
Another step Google recently took to promote fairness in artificial intelligence and machine learning was to remove gendered pronouns from Gmail’s Smart Compose feature. The company decided to remove them altogether after it was convinced that there was no other way right now to ensure that Smart Compose could be completely free from gender bias.
Google Translate has historically provided only one translation for every query even if the translation can have a masculine or feminine form. By producing just one translation, the model inadvertently replicated gender biases which already exist. “It would skew masculine for words like “strong” or “doctor,” and feminine for other words, like “nurse” or “beautiful,” Google adds.
The company says that users will now get both a feminine and masculine translation for a single word from English to Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Only the Turkish to English language pair will provide both translations for sentences. This works only in browsers right now but will eventually work in the apps as well. Google says that it will continue to add support for more languages in the future.