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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's new Surface products include 1st-ever headphones. Wikimedia Commons
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  • 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.

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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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Microsoft Starts Selling Amazon’s Echo Devices

While Alexa accepted personal requests, Cortana helped with business needs

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Microsoft stores start selling Amazon's Echo devices. Pixabay

Following its partnership with Amazon to integrate their two Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered assistants Alexa with Cortana, Microsoft has now started selling Amazon’s Echo devices in its retail stores.

Amazon’s Echo Dot and Echo devices are available online and in Microsoft Stores in the US, The Verge reported on Saturday.

Microsoft introduced Cortana on Windows Phone four years ago. In Windows 10, it became the core search functionality.

The software maker now appears to be pushing it towards more business-focused areas like chat bots rather than its original consumer-focused launch, the report added.

Microsoft has been increasingly focusing on its Amazon partnership and Alexa integration, it added.

Microsoft and Amazon had announced to integrate their virtual assistants last year.

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Microsoft introduced Cortana on Windows Phone four years ago. In Windows 10, it became the core search functionality. Pixabay

The tech giants performed the first such integration between the two intelligent assistants at the “Build 2018” developers’ conference in May this year.

Megan Saunders, Microsoft Cortana General Manager, and Tom Taylor, Amazon Alexa Senior Vice President, showcased how Alexa and Cortana would work together in the near future.

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“For all of you developers out there building skills, Cortana and Alexa will enable access to more people across more devices. And we can’t wait to see what you build,” said Saunders.

While Alexa accepted personal requests, Cortana helped with business needs.

The integration works with the command: “Alexa, open Cortana.” (IANS)