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It’s Friday, so it’s time to check in with the rebellious academics, failed philosophers, restless souls, frustrated artists, and all-round geeks that make up the Unbabel team. Just what were we all reading and sharing in our #worth_reading Slack channel this week?  This is your life and it’s ending one Slack message at a time  “Chat at work can be like inserting an open office directly into your skull.”Here’s some top tips for putting on the virtual equivalent of noise-cancelling headphones.  Chat at work is killing my productivity.The man behind the bits Before a man named Claude Shannon came along with the publication of his “Mathematical Theory of Communication,” everyone thought that each medium — written, spoken language, pictures, videos, etc — would require different ways of communicating. The revelation was that all of them could be turned into binary digits, or bits.A Man in a Hurry: Claude...

It’s easy to lose ground in e-commerce. In a crowded market where customers can buy from a competitor as simply as following a link, retailers have to work hard. Every search term, product description and user pathway matters.Not surprisingly, smart players have come to depend on the abundance of data consumers make available at every step of the business process. They deploy predictive analytics, machine learning and other Artificial Intelligence techniques to redefining the rules of the game, helping some stay ahead of the competition, and improving the customer experience overall. Here are just a few examples of how.   Enhancing product discovery with image classification Some of the most interesting attempts at augmenting the shopping experience have involved classifying, understanding and interpreting images. With Pinterest’s visual search feature, you can see the beginnings of how AI fits in a retail context, supporting the customer experience by providing...

Hello, esteemed reader. We meet again. Another week came and (almost) went, and we find ourselves again scrolling through Slack, looking for gems to fuel the sequel of our new favourite Friday feature, "Unbabel's Weekly Reads". If you're new here: Unbabel is made up of scientists, engineers and business professionals, but we’re also rebellious academics, failed philosophers, restless souls, frustrated artists, and all-round geeks - and we think the collective curation of what we share in our #worth_reading Slack channel throughout the week is worth sharing with you as well. Need extra topics for your weekend dinners? Go ahead and check out issue #1   Translation — science or art?  Our translation pipeline bets heavily on the former, but stories like this one show that it can be very much the latter, too. At the G20 summit in Hamburg last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel used the word “bedauerlicherweise” (“regretfully” or “unfortunately”) when summing...

The robots are coming. And they’re scary. That’s one of the conclusions of a survey commissioned by the UK’s Royal Society, which assessed the public’s perception of the risks and benefits of machine learning.But machine learning and robotics are just two components of AI, not the whole thing. And our perceptions of associated risk are magnified by a Hollywood sensibility. For example, the survey shows that we have a particular fear of predictive policing – the idea that government organisations will be able to make judgements about our propensity towards all sorts of anti-social behaviour (Minority Report) and even retaliate (Robocop).Ordinary consumers don’t yet understand AI– their view is dystopian; particularly as the press focuses on the relentless story that AI steals jobs. That’s understandable: one in six US workers drives for a living, and these jobs will undoubtedly be razed in a driverless future...

At Unbabel we’re avid users of Slack, coordinating hundreds of overlapping workstreams, keeping the growing team of a multinational startup all on the same page, and generally living out our internal culture: one that values continuous learning about the areas we work in and on, and seeks to discover new and better ways to work. As we’ve grown, more voices have been added to one of our channels, #worth_reading — rebellious academics, failed philosophers, restless souls, frustrated artists, and all-round geeks — and we think the collective curation here has now become a resource worth sharing more widely. So let’s look at what we shared this week: For centuries, poets, historians, scientists and philosophers have attempted to craft a universal human language, capable of discovering and expressing everything that there is to know. But really, as this great essay in Aeon shows, Who needs a perfect language? It’s already...

Translation services have traditionally been offered on a cost-per-word basis; and there are good reasons why. It’s transparent: we all agree on what words are, and it’s clear that more words require more effort. But if we look a little deeper, it doesn’t align well with the changing world.Charging by the word is not new. In fact, part of the reason that we think it’s outdated is that the best example of charging by the word comes from 100 years ago – the telegram. Because customers hated being charged by the word, a pioneer named Nelson E Ross carefully put together a guide to all the sneaky ways to avoid word fees while still communicating effectively. You can read a transcript here, and it includes helpful yet courteous advice such as “when you think of telegraphing someone to ‘reply at once’, you may very well save...

What if you found yourself in the middle of a crisis – and the only information available to you was in a language you couldn’t understand?It’s a desperate thought, and yet one which is all too common. Natural disasters don’t respect borders. And we live in a globalised world where we travel, trade and make our homes in many other countries. In fact, practically every crisis will be affected by a language barrier....

We have a huge vision for Unbabel — to provide human-quality translations at the scale of machine translation. But how do we know we’re doing a good job? For us, quality is a blend of having a good initial text to work from, feeding it through our domain-adapted machine translation, and then intelligently distributing these outputs to a curated community of editors, who we support with tools and aids that allow them to review, post-edit and approve the content as fast as possible.First, here are the multiple ways that we measure, control and optimise quality across our language pipeline.Quality Audits and Annotations We conduct periodic Quality Audits of our customers and weekly annotations of sampled data, testing hypotheses and running deep analyses where we find higher than normal errors in our pipeline. We use the industry standard metric here, MQM, or Multidimensional Quality Metric, to be able...

Here at Unbabel, we want to enable everyone to understand and be understood, in any language. And that includes Salvador Sobral, Portugal’s first ever winner of the Eurovision Song Contest! 🇵🇹Fuelled by Super Bock and Doritos, Unbabel’s marketing team banded together to create this little site with subtitles and lyrics (written by his sister, Luisa Sobral) for their beautiful song, Amar Pelos Dois, in 17 languages — all translated with Unbabel....

Vasco Pedro has always been fascinated with language and the window it provides to how we process information. His undergrad studies focused on artificial intelligence and computational linguistics, and then he went to earn his master’s and PhD in natural language processing at Carnegie Mellon. Throughout his education, Vasco explored the fundamentals of how we think, how consciousness arises, and the core AI aspects of language.Ten years later, Vasco, along with co-founder João Graça, merged these interests in the founding of Unbabel, an AI-powered translation platform. “Solving translation was the original reason AI was invented,” Vasco says. “Graça and I were frustrated that technology had made this huge promise to solve machine translation, but was still very far away from realizing that goal.”It was during a surf trip that the would-be partners started to articulate their mission. “We knew there had to be a better...