Meta presents its intelligent interpreter, partly developed in Israel

SAN FRANCISCO – Meta announced this week that it has developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered voice interpretation system capable of translating into English primarily spoken languages ​​that do not have a very widespread, starting with Hokkien, a Taiwanese language that has no standard written form.

This system is the result of extensive research carried out by Meta’s AI teams around the world, particularly in Israel, where Meta has developed a significant research and development (R&D) activity, the largest outside the United States. .

The Silicon Valley tech titan, owner of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, touted the work under its Universal Speech Translator project as an effort to enable users around the world to meet each other, regardless of language. that they speak. This project is one of the first two announced in February.

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The second project, related to the first, is called “No Language Left Behind”, in which Meta claims to be building a new advanced AI model that “can learn from languages ​​for which there are fewer practice examples, and which we will use to ensure professional-quality translations in hundreds of languages, from Asturian to Luganda to Urdu”.

These two projects are part of Meta’s long-term project to create linguistic tools and machine translation systems that will apply to “most of the world’s languages”.

When Facebook rebranded itself as Meta a year ago, co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company was focused on shifting to an online life taking place in virtual realms, a concept called the ” metaverse”.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company would change its name to Meta on October 28, 2021. (Screenshot)

“Oral communications can help break down barriers and bring people together wherever they are — even in the metaverse,” Meta says in a blog post.

The new Hokkien translation system was touted by Meta as the first “speech-to-speech translation system developed for an unwritten language” powered by artificial intelligence.

The translation technology, which the tech company says will be shared for use by others, will allow a Hokkien-speaking person to converse with an English-speaking person, but only at the rate of a full sentence at a time. at the same time, explains Meta.

The tech giant said that to design the system, it used a variety of methods to overcome the fact that most voice translation systems rely on transcriptions.

Since Hokiien does not have a writing system, Meta said she used speech-to-speech translations that are based on text from a related language, in this case Mandarin, and speech translations -unit that produce acoustic sounds.

“Our team first translated the English or Hokkien lyrics into the Mandarin text, before translating them into Hokkien or English,” Juan Pino, one of Meta’s AI researchers, told VentureBeat. “They then added the matched sentences to the data used to train the AI ​​model.”

Meta AI built the first speech translator that works for languages ​​that are primarily spoken rather than written. We’re open sourcing this so people can use it for more languages.

Posted by mark zuckerberg on Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Meta said the work was a “step towards a future where simultaneous translation between languages ​​is possible. »

“The techniques we pioneered with Hokkien can be extended to many other unwritten languages ​​and will eventually work in real time. »

Hokkien is widely spoken within the Chinese diaspora. It is used by 16 million people in Asia and is spoken by three-quarters of Taiwan’s population, according to the National Institute of Oriental Languages ​​and Civilizations.

But that language doesn’t have a standard written form, making it difficult to design AI models that can interpret what’s being said, according to Meta.

More than 40% of the world’s 7,000 existing languages ​​are primarily spoken, and do not have a standard or commonly known written form, the tech company said.

“In the future, all languages, whether written or not, may no longer be a barrier to good communication,” Meta said.

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Meta presents its intelligent interpreter, partly developed in Israel

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