Google announced the revamping of Translate to offer more interpretations. Before the update, only masculine translations existed for gender-neutral words.
“Google Translate learns from hundreds of millions of already-translated examples from the web,” Google Translate Product Manager James Kuczmarski said in a blog post. “Historically, it has provided only one translation for a query, even if the translation could have either a feminine or masculine form.”
Google Translate plans to extend gender-specific translations to more languages.
Google Translate will launch the update on its iOS and Andriod apps later in the year. It is also set to address gender bias in features like query auto-complete.
Tech companies have struggled with identifying and fixing gender bias in machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies. Last year, Wired reported on a Virginia computer science professor finding gender bias in some of the machine-learning software that he was helping to build. The software amplified gender-bias by continuously associating activities like shopping and cooking with women and sports and coaching to men.
More recently, Amazon nixed its AI hiring tool after finding that the technology was bias against women, according to reporting from Reuters.
Google’s move represents an effort to make things right. Kuczmarski said his team is currently developing ways to address non-binary gender in translations, although those changes will not be part of the initial updates.