Saturday April 21, 2018

Chinese Company Ad unintentionally sets off Talk on Racism

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  • A detergent advertisement by a Chinese company Qiaobi, invites criticism on the grounds of racism
  • A black man is ‘washed’ with the help of the advertised product to change into a fair, chinese man
  • Qiaobi formally writes an apoplgy statement, stating it expresses deep regret for hurting sentiments of the Black people

A seemingly simple advertisement by a Chinese company, Qiaobi, which was first released on Chinese social media in March, came under widespread scrutiny last week as foreign media fueled allegations of propagating racism against the company.

The advertisement shows a black man trying to flirt with an Asian woman, who, unimpressed by his efforts, tosses him into the washing machine to wash him with the company’s advertised product. In a short while, a fair Chinese man appears from the machine, who highly appeals to the woman, as is evident by her smile.

After the sudden attention that the ad received, many online comments surfaced, like, “It should be taken down. All in all, not only is it offensive, but the rest is a complete copy. It has really caused us Chinese to lose face’, referring to the allegation that it was copied from a similar racist Italian advertisement. A few comments, however, spoke in favor of the Chinese company, saying, “There’s no reason to apologize. Blacks aren’t part of the 56 minority groups in China, so how could it be considered offensive?”.

After careful assessment and to avoid further negative press to the advertisement, Qiaobi issued an apology statement, which reads:

On 27 May 2016 on Sina Weibo, media outlets and internet users shared American media reports with the following information: “China’s Qiaobi advertisement is accused of ethnic discrimination, incites controversy on YouTube.” Later, we verified that the ad has been reported on or circulated by American media outlets including the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and CNN; the UK’s BBC; France’s AFP, and other media outlets. It has attracted public attention in the US, the UK, and elsewhere. We’d like to express that we have properly managed this situation and would like to add the following:

  1. We have no intentions to discriminate against people of color… Ethnic discrimination is something we strongly reject and condemn.
  2. We express regret over the controversy the ad has created and do not intend to shirk responsibility. We have already stopped the ad’s circulation and have canceled several online streaming links. We hope that internet users and the media will cease sharing the video.
  3. The advertisement and the surrounding controversy have hurt people of African descent. We express our apologies, and also sincerely hope internet users and media won’t overanalyze the situation.
  4. Qiaobi is a domestic Chinese brand of cleaning products. We hope that domestic brands can continue to thrive and go global.

Written by Saurabh Bodas. Saurabh studies Mechatronics Engineering at Manipal Institute of Technology.

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Microsoft AI translates Chinese to English like humans

The researchers taught the system to repeat the process of translating the same sentence over and over

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Microsoft to pay $250,000 to help them catch chip bugs. Wikimedia Commons
Microsoft's Sangam is a cloud-based platform. Wikimedia Commons
  • Microsoft creates a new kind of AI
  • This can translate Chinese to English just like humans
  • The translator makes little mistakes

A team of Microsoft researchers, including one of Indian-origin, has created an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered machine system that can translate sentences of news articles from Chinese to English with the same quality and accuracy as humans.

Researchers from the company’s Asia and US labs said their system achieved human parity on a commonly-used test set of news stories — called “newstest2017” — that was released at a conference recently, a blog post said late on Wednesday.

Microsoft acquired the start-up PlayFab. Pixabay
This Ai can expertly translate Chinese into English. Pixabay

According to Arul Menezes, an IIT-Bombay alumni and Partner Research Manager of Microsoft’s machine translation team, the team set out to prove that its systems could perform about as well as a person when it used a language pair — like Chinese to English — for which there is a lot of data.

“Given the best-case situation as far as data and availability of resources goes, we wanted to find out if we could actually match the performance of a professional human translator,” said Menezes.

To ensure the results were both accurate and at par with what people would have done, the team hired external bilingual human evaluators who compared Microsoft’s results to two independently produced human reference translations.

“Hitting human parity in a machine translation task is a dream that all of us have had. We just did not realise we would be able to hit it so soon,” said Xuedong Huang, Technical Fellow in charge of Microsoft’s speech, natural language and machine translation efforts.

Also Read: Microsoft Teams to have Cortana integration, other features

To reach the human parity milestone on this dataset, three research teams in Microsoft’s Beijing and Redmond, Washington, research labs worked together to make the system more accurate.

“Much of our research is really inspired by how we humans do things,” said Tie-Yan Liu, Principal Research Manager with Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing.

The team used dual-learning method. Every time they sent a sentence through the system to be translated from Chinese to English, the research team also translated it back from English to Chinese.

Microsoft Kaizala
The accuracy rate is high too. Wikimedia

That’s similar to what people might do to make sure that their automated translations were accurate, and it allowed the system to refine and learn from its own mistakes. Dual learning, which was developed by the Microsoft research team, can also be used to improve results in other AI tasks.

Another method, called deliberation networks, is similar to how people edit and revise their own writing by going through it again and again. The researchers taught the system to repeat the process of translating the same sentence over and over, gradually refining and improving the response, Microsoft said. IANS

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