Google translate was at the centre of a twitter storm recently when several tweets began to call out apparent sexism within the way the programme operates. The debate began when Twitter User Alex Shams posted a tweet highlighting some questionable decisions Google Translate had made regarding the Turkish gender-neutral pronoun.
Look,how @Google Translate does #sexism! #Finnish has a gender neutral third-person pronoun. But Google decides, if a job title is good to go with the male or the female English third-person pronoun. Idea: @seyyedreza in #Turkish pic.twitter.com/jU9Su0JXd5— Taika Dahlbom (@TaikaDahlbom) November 28, 2017
The explanation for this apparently sexist behaviour is that Google Translate bases its translations on the frequency of use. Google confirmed this when Mashable reached out for comment regarding this issue. The spokesperson’s statement goes as follows: “Translate works by learning patterns from many millions of examples of translations seen out on the web. Unfortunately, some of those patterns can lead to translations we’re not happy with.”
The real issue then is not a sexist machine, but the prevelance of gender stereotypes on the web and in society as a whole.
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