Google Translate learns 24 new languages

For years, Google Translate has helped break down language barriers and connect communities all over the world. And we want to make this possible for even more people — especially those whose languages aren’t represented in most technology. So today we’ve added 24 languages to Translate, now supporting a total of 133 used around the globe.

Over 300 million people speak these newly added languages — like Mizo, used by around 800,000 people in the far northeast of India, and Lingala, used by over 45 million people across Central Africa. As part of this update, Indigenous languages of the Americas (Quechua, Guarani and Aymara) and an English dialect (Sierra Leonean Krio) have also been added to Translate for the first time.

Here’s a complete list of the new languages now available in Google Translate:

  • Assamese, used by about 25 million people in Northeast India
  • Aymara, used by about two million people in Bolivia, Chile and Peru
  • Bambara, used by about 14 million people in Mali
  • Bhojpuri, used by about 50 million people in northern India, Nepal and Fiji
  • Dhivehi, used by about 300,000 people in the Maldives
  • Dogri, used by about three million people in northern India
  • Ewe, used by about seven million people in Ghana and Togo
  • Guarani, used by about seven million people in Paraguay and Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil
  • Ilocano, used by about 10 million people in northern Philippines
  • Konkani, used by about two million people in Central India
  • Krio, used by about four million people in Sierra Leone
  • Kurdish (Sorani), used by about 15 million people in Iraq and Iran
  • Lingala, used by about 45 million people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Angola and the Republic of South Sudan
  • Luganda, used by about 20 million people in Uganda and Rwanda
  • Maithili, used by about 34 million people in northern India
  • Meiteilon (Manipuri), used by about two million people in Northeast India
  • Mizo, used by about 830,000 people in Northeast India
  • Oromo, used by about 37 million people in Ethiopia and Kenya
  • Quechua, used by about 10 million people in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and surrounding countries
  • Sanskrit, used by about 20,000 people in India
  • Sepedi, used by about 14 million people in South Africa
  • Tigrinya, used by about eight million people in Eritrea and Ethiopia
  • Tsonga, used by about seven million people in Eswatini, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe
  • Twi, used by about 11 million people in Ghana

This is also a technical milestone for Google Translate. These are the first languages we’ve added using Zero-Shot Machine Translation, where a machine learning model only sees monolingual text — meaning, it learns to translate into another language without ever seeing an example. While this technology is impressive, it isn’t perfect. And we’ll keep improving these models to deliver the same experience you’re used to with a Spanish or German translation, for example. If you want to dig into the technical details, check out our Google AI blog post and research paper.

We’re grateful to the many native speakers, professors and linguists who worked with us on this latest update and kept us inspired with their passion and enthusiasm. If you want to help us support your language in a future update, contribute evaluations or translations through Translate Contribute.

Samsung AI Forum 2021 Explores Future of AI Research

Samsung Electronics announced today that it will hold the Samsung AI Forum 2021 online via its YouTube channel for two days from November 1 to November 2. Marking its fifth year, the forum gathers world-renowned academics and industry experts on artificial intelligence (AI) and serves as a platform for exchanging ideas, insights and the latest research findings, as well as a platform to discuss the future of AI.

Day 1: AI Research for Tomorrow

On Day 1, which will be hosted by Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT), Samsung’s R&D hub dedicated to cutting-edge future technologies, Dr. Kinam Kim, Vice Chairman & CEO of Device Solutions at Samsung Electronics, will deliver the opening remarks. Under the theme, “AI Research for Tomorrow”, renowned AI experts will discuss various AI technologies and the research direction on AI — from fundamental research to its applications – including how AI research will impact other fields such as new material development and semiconductors.

This year, Professor Yoshua Bengio, the winner of the 2018 Turing Award — often referred to as the Nobel Prize in computing — will deliver the keynote. The keynote speech will be followed by three technology sessions: Scalable and Sustainable AI Computing, AI for Scientific Discovery and Trustworthy Computer Vision.

In particular, in this year’s forum, various AI startups will provide an overview of the current trends in cutting-edge AI technology and share their actual business application models. In addition, the AI research leaders at SAIT will participate in the forum as speakers and give presentations on the current status and vision of Samsung’s AI research.

The Samsung AI Researcher of the Year awards,1 which were established last year in an effort to discover excelling rising researchers in the field of AI, will also be presented during the forum. Last year, five researchers including Professor Kyunghyun Cho of New York University were awarded.

As the co-chairs of this year’s forum, Dr. Gyoyoung Jin, President and Head of SAIT and Professor Bengio, who was appointed as the Samsung AI Professor last year, will continue to cooperate to highlight outstanding rising researchers and expand the base of AI research.

“This year’s forum will be organized as a venue for sharing the current status of AI technology research and AI applications as well as discussing ways to transform AI into a technology that substantially contributes to our daily lives,” said Professor Bengio.

Day 2: AI in a Human World

Day 2 sessions will be hosted by Samsung Research, the company’s advanced R&D hub that leads the development of future technologies for its Consumer Electronics division and IT & Mobile Communications division. Under the theme “AI in a Human World”, Dr. Sebastian Seung, President and Head of Samsung Research, will deliver the opening remarks, and AI experts who have been actively engaging in AI research activities worldwide will share their insights on the current status of AI and future research directions that will have an important impact on our lives.

The keynote will be delivered by Professor Leslie Valiant, the 2010 Turing Award winner, of Harvard University on the subject of integrating machine learning and inference for next-generation AI. This will be followed by technology sessions: Interpretability for Skeptical Minds and Understanding Matter with Deep Learning.

Dr. Daniel Lee, Executive Vice President and Head of Samsung Research Global AI Center, will preside over an in-depth panel discussion with the speakers regarding the ‘future prospects and considerations of each AI sector’.

Lightning talks (5-minute speeches, 7 sessions) will also take place this year where members of the Samsung Research Global AI Center and 5 AI centers (Cambridge, U.K.; New York, U.S.; Toronto, Canada; Montreal, Canada; and Moscow, Russia) will take part.

“This year’s AI Forum will help us better understand where the current AI technology developments are heading and also about AI applicable products which are becoming smarter,” said Dr. Sebastian Seung, President and Head of Samsung Research. “I expect that many people who are interested in AI will participate in the forum since it will be held as an online event this year.”

The event will be open to anyone who is interested in AI. Registration is available through the Samsung AI Forum 2021 Website from October 6 to the respective event dates.

African projects among 30 new AI for Social Good projects to be supported by Google

Working in partnership with and Google’s University Relations program, their goal is to help academics and nonprofits develop AI techniques that can improve people’s lives — especially in underserved communities that haven’t yet benefited from advances in AI. They reported on the impact of six such projects in 2020. And today, Google is sharing 30 new projects that will receive funding and support as part of their AI for Social Good program. 

During the application process, Googlers arranged workshops involving more than 150 teams to discuss potential projects. Following the workshop meetings, project teams made up of NGOs and academics submitted proposals which Google experts reviewed. The result is a promising range of projects spanning seventeen countries across Asia-Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa — including India, Uganda, Nigeria, Japan and Australia— focused on agriculture, conservation and public health. 

In agriculture, this includes research to help farmer collectives with market intelligence and use data to improve crop and irrigation planning for smallholder farmers. In public health, we are backing projects that will enable targeted public health interventions, and will help community health workers to forecast health risks in countries such as Kenya, India and Uganda. We’re also supporting research to better forecast the need for critical resources like vaccines and care, including in Nigeria. And in conservation, we’re supporting research to help understand animal population changes, such as the effect of poaching on elephants, and gorillas. Other projects will help reduce conservation conflict and poaching, including human-elephant conflict in Kenya.

Each project team will receive funding, technical contributions from Google and access to computational resources. Academics in this program will be recognized as “Impact Scholars” for their contributions towards advancing research for social good.  

Google have seen the impact these kinds of projects can make. One of the nonprofit leaders supported by the program last year, ARMMAN founder Dr. Aparna Hegde, has received AI research support from IIT Madras and Google Research to improve maternal and child health outcomes in India. The team is building a predictive model to prevent expectant mothers dropping out of supportive telehealth outreach programs. Results so far show AI could enable ARMMAN to increase the number of women engaged through the program by 50%, and they have received a second grant to enable them to build on this progress. Dr. Hegde says the program is “already showing encouraging results — and I am confident that this partnership will bring immense benefits in the future.”

Congratulations to all the recipients of this round’s support. Google is looking forward to continuing to nurture the AI for Social Good community, bringing together experts from diverse backgrounds with the common goal of advancing AI to improve lives around the world.

Ericsson launches private 5G set to transform secure on-site connectivity

Ericsson launched Ericsson Private 5G. It offers secure and simple 4G LTE and 5G Standalone (SA) connectivity primarily targeting but not limited to manufacturing, mining and process industry, offshore and power utilities, as well as ports and airports.

Ericsson Private 5G optimizes and simplifies business operations with cloud-based network management, keeps sensitive data on-premise, has zero downtime upgrades and guarantees high performance through Service-Level Agreements (SLAs).

It is easily installed within hours at any facility and can be scaled to support larger coverage areas, more devices and higher capacity when needed. The product is designed to be flexible and will support a range of deployment sizes, depending on requirements, to suit varied needs. Businesses can manage their networks and integrate with IT/OT systems via an open API.

Ericsson Private 5G builds upon Ericsson’s 4G/5G radio and dual mode core technology, enabling a wide variety of use cases for both indoor and outdoor environments while integrating well with business operations, devices and applications. As a result, companies can improve productivity, give their customers more value and provide better working environments for employees.

Innovative use cases include tracking assets and real-time automation to improve productivity in warehouses, and a digital twin that can help to optimize manufacturing operations. Efficient quality inspections can also be performed via augmented reality or smart surveillance drones to increase worker safety, particularly in potentially hazardous environments such as ports and mines.

Ericsson already has a significant track record of operational 4G and 5G private network deployments with customers worldwide. Ericsson Private 5G builds on the success of that solution portfolio and deployment insights, as well as insights from projects such as 5G-Industry Campus Europe.

Peter Burman, Program Manager Mine Automation, at Swedish mining company Boliden, says: “Automation, and safety through automation in our mining operations is an absolute must for us. Ericsson Private 5G is exactly what Boliden needs to bring high quality, fast and secure connectivity into potentially hazardous environments allowing us to mobilize efficiency and safety improving use cases.

Niels König, Coordinator 5G-Industry Campus Europe, Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT: “Private 5G networks are highly attractive for producing companies because of the uncompromised performance that 5G can bring, allowing them to tackle the challenges of production. Efficiently deploying and using network solutions in enterprises requires simplicity in installation, flexibility in connecting to existing production IT and lean operations while at the same time being able to scale the network to meet future challenges. Ericsson Private 5G delivers exactly these capabilities.”

Leo Gergs, Senior Analyst, ABI Research, says: “With this new offering, Ericsson will be able to address key trends in the enterprise cellular market.  The value proposition will appeal to operators and service providers as the solution hides technology complexity and therefore reduces the barrier of entry to deployment for many different flavors of enterprise networks.”

Thomas Noren, Head of Dedicated Networks, Business Area Technologies and New Businesses, Ericsson, says: “With Ericsson Private 5G, we take the best of Ericsson’s current portfolio and top it up with the best of our new technology. We do this to give businesses what they need to improve productivity, enable new offerings and give employees a better working environment. With Ericsson Private 5G, we also give operators a better way to serve business customers and leverage their assets – in short, to grow beyond mobile broadband.”

Gender inequality is meeting Artificial Intelligence in today’s tech-applications

For women, hurdles are everywhere. Despite the critical role women play in societies, unequal access to education, loans, jobs, healthcare, technology, and political discourse are commonplace — and worsened by COVID-19.

Technological innovations like artificial intelligence (AI) promise to identify and close these gaps through claims of a more data-driven, objective approach, but ironically pose another hurdle for women. Often, these digital systems inadvertently carry the same old analog gender biases.

AI Gender Inequity Example

Imagine that you run a small woman-owned business from home. Excited by its early success, you apply for a loan to hire staff and get more space. But you’re soon dejected — every bank approved you for a smaller loan than requested, while a friend got his loan request approved in full. You’re surprised — he has similar assets and savings as you. The only obvious difference is that you’re a woman.

You learn that your credit application was evaluated not by a person, but by a machine. Banks use AI technology to assign a creditworthiness score to applicants. Using a machine learning algorithm, the tool ‘learns’ patterns of behavior associated with higher creditworthiness based on previous applicants’ data and their associated repayment.

Historically more men received loans than women, so the algorithm determined that men were more creditworthy. Although banks turned to AI to be more objective and equitable in lending, the results were actually the opposite.

Gender Inequity in Artificial Intelligence

This is not a hypothetical example — there are now-famous instances of the unintentional consequences of AI, such as automated resume screeners rejecting women, facial recognition disproportionately failing for women, and algorithmic credit-scorers ranking women lower than men.

As AI tools are being tested and used in developing economies to derive insights and gain efficiencies across sectors — and as we rely more and more on them to give loans, diagnose diseases, triage medical care, and respond to humanitarian crises — we must work to prevent them from discriminating. There is an opportunity and urgency to optimize for innovative and equitable AI — especially in developing countries.

Development actors are taking steps to address disparities, for example, using AI to close gender-related data gaps in child marriage. Through the WomenConnect Challenge, USAID is beginning to tackle algorithmic gender bias in lending and is committed to taking action on the fair development and use of AI more broadly, working with partners to create a report and online course to better integrate AI fairness in development.

But we know there are many more ways that bias manifests in AI. Complex contributors to these harmful outcomes can include unrepresentative datasets, largely male data science teams, cultural norms around gender, and local policies and practices around data, among many others.

Gender equity is critical to achieving AI fairness, and as we work to build an agenda for action, we want to hear from you. In recognition of Women’s History Month, we want to shine a spotlight on inequitable gender outcomes related to AI in the developing world, and everyone’s help and collaboration is needed.

The development community is committed to gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. We must ensure that using AI does not reverse the substantial gains of the past decades. Together, we can raise awareness about gender inequity in AI and take action to change course.

[Interview] Lionel Mpfizi, CEO, Awesomity Lab, Rwanda

Lionel Mpfizi
 is the CEO of Awesomity Lab, an award-winning software development company based in Kigali, Rwanda. 

Could you introduce Awesomity Lab and where the name itself comes from? 

Awesomity Lab is an award-winning software development company based in Kigali, Rwanda.

The name Awesomity comes from the phrase AWESOME CREATIVITY. Founded just 5 years ago by four young entrepreneurs, Awesomity has gone on to develop solutions for more than a dozen clients all over Africa and Europe. Awesomity specializes in building mobile applications and web platforms with the focus of always creating the perfect user-centered design for our clients.

When and why was it set up?

Awesomity was founded in 2015 and deyond just developing software, Our vision is to promote Rwandan-made IT solutions tailored for Rwandan challenges. Awesomity’s team has sourced out 14 of the best local talent in programmers and designers who truly understand the Rwandan way to approach a challenge and develop a solution to it. Which is why we pride ourselves on our richly designed and intuitive Made in Rwanda software applications.

How has the market responded to your services? Why do you think that is so?

The market response has been great so far, In the last 5 years, Awesomity has had the chance to develop a variety of solutions in diverse sectors. Most notably, creating Rwanda’s first ride-hailing service in partnership with Volkswagen Mobility Solutions Rwanda which has completed over 150,000 rides since launching in 2019 and spearheading the development and redesign of all government websites in Rwanda, starting with all ministries, embassies and district offices.

Rwanda is the perfect place for a business like ours, I believe on of the reasons behind the our success in this market is our understanding of it, and the creativity and talent we bring to the table.

What is the uniqueness of Awesomity Lab from other tech-companies?

Awesomity is renowned for skill, hard work, creativity and user experience that goes unbeaten in the region. Our client’s projects become our projects and we work hand in hand from start to finish.

We have created quite a unique process of approaching client projects that helps them get the best value for their money. This process keeps being improved with every new project we work on and I believe this is what helps us keep up with the competition.

How do you find competition in your industry? 

The software development scene in Rwanda is rapidly growing and more and more companies are enterring the space. We however do try to deliver better quality and create strong relationships with our clients. One of our biggest advantages is that we have been here longer and the experience collected over these years has helped our team become stronger than most of the competition.

What are some of the proud moments of Awesomity Lab?

Over time, Awesomity has received a lot of recognition for the amazing work we have been doing. In 2016, Awesomity was awarded 1st runner up prize in Seedstars Kigali Chapter, in 2018 Awesomity took home the Gov UI/UX Challenge which took it into a contract for developing the Gov platforms the next year.

In 2019 Awesomity was recognized for its standards and best practices in software development and was award one of the three Rwanda Tech-Seals. At the beginning of 2020, Awesomity received a business excellence award from RDB as the young entrepreneur of the year.

What are Awesomity Lab’s biggest plans for 2021?

This year we are planning on expanding our portfolion with more consumer facing apps and enterring new fields such as fintech. But everything is still in the early planning phases at the moment. 

We also recently started the second TaskForce cohort, which is our unique onboarding process where interns go through a 7 weeks bootcamp specially designed to upskill them in both soft and technical team before they can join our team. We beleive that this will also be among our 2021 achievements.