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Google Turns 20, Feels Nostalgic!

Its first Doodle was created before the company was even incorporated

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Google's new Search feature gives single result to certain queries. Pixabay
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Google on Thursday turned 20 and celebrated it with a nostalgic video feature of interesting searches through the years — from holidays, events, achievements and people to the best dance moves, food to eat, planets and languages.

Google has answered all our queries since it came into being in 1998 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, both Ph.D. students at the Stanford University, US.

The new search engine had a bold mission to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Over the years it changed drastically — going from being a simple search engine to a global tech titan and offering searches in more than 150 languages in over 190 countries — though there has been one thing that that has remained constant from the very first day: the homepage Doodle.

Thursday’s video Doodle took a stroll down the memory lane exploring popular searches all over the world throughout the last two decades — whether it be the status of your favourite object orbiting the sun, the latest on the world’s biggest events, or the meaning of love.

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A Google logo is seen at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, VOA

Although more than 2,000 Doodles have adorned its homepage, Google has kept its site looking fresh by creating different variations of its logo, inspired by cultural icons, events and phenomena such as Pac-Man, the birth of hip-hop and more, Google said in a statement.

Its first Doodle was created before the company was even incorporated. A few days before its official launch, the Burning Man-inspired logo was put on the homepage as an away message — that’s how Page and Brin let people know they were heading to the festival.

It had taken two years for Google Doodles to get animated. On October 31, 2000, the first Doodle with motion graphics arrived to celebrate Halloween. The O’s in the logo were replaced by tiny jack-o’-lanterns, and a spider dangled between the “L” and “E”.

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On November 13, 2009, it celebrated the discovery of water on Moon, on August 11, 2017, it celebrated 44 years of the birth of Hip-Hop. Going coutry specific it has over the years celebrated national and cultural icons.

In 2018, Google made its first VR Doodle celebrating the life of Georges Melies, an early film pioneer. It was a 360-degree experience that did not need a VR headset to enjoy. It was nominated for an Emmy in 2018. (IANS)

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Google Rolls Out Gender Specific Translation to Reduce Bias

Google said it is also thinking about how to address non-binary gender in translations, though it is not part of this initial launch

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Google starts rolling out gender specific translation to reduce bias. Pixabay

In a bid to reduce gender biases in its translation service, Google has started rolling out a feature that provides feminine and masculine translations for some gender-neutral words on the Google Translate website.

The feature is currently available only for a few languages, although Google plans to bring it to more languages soon.

So one can now translate single words from English to languages like French, Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish. As of now, translations for short phrases and sentences that mention a person in a gender-neutral way is available for the English and Turkish language pair.

“In the future, we plan to extend gender-specific translations to more languages, launch on other Translate surfaces like our iOS and Android apps, and address gender bias in features like query auto-complete,” James Kuczmarski, Product Manager, Google Translate, said in a blog post on Thursday.

Google Translate learns from hundreds of millions of already-translated examples from the web.

Historically, it has provided only one translation for a query, even if the translation could have either a feminine or masculine form.

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A Google logo is seen at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, VOA

So when the model produced one translation, it inadvertently replicated gender biases that already existed.

For example, it would skew masculine for words like “strong” or “doctor,” and feminine for other words, like “nurse” or “beautiful.”

“Now you’ll get both a feminine and masculine translation for a single word – like ‘surgeon’ when translating from English into French, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish,” Kuczmarski said.

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“You’ll also get both translations when translating phrases and sentences from Turkish to English. For example, if you type ‘o bir doktor’ in Turkish, you’ll now get ‘she is a doctor’ and ‘he is a doctor’ as the gender-specific translations,” Kuczmarski said.

The new feature is part of Google’s efforts to promote fairness and reduce bias in Machine Learning.

Google said it is also thinking about how to address non-binary gender in translations, though it is not part of this initial launch. (IANS)