Lost And Found In Translation

Google announced a large-scale update of the Google Translate service: the basis of the translator will be driven by neural networks. For some languages, neural translation began to be used from November 2016 while others, including Russian, will switch to new technology in the near future. The developers argue that neural networks significantly improve the quality of translation, because machines can analyze not merely individual words and phrases but complete sentences and context.

How the new technology differs from the previous one? How to measure the quality of translation, and whether the machines can translate from one language to another as well as people?

Konstantin Benyumov, the journalist of Russian online publication Medusa, spoke with Barak Turovsky, Product Lead of Google Translate.Barak Turowski has been with Google since 2012, for the last three years managing Google Translate, including user interaction algorithms and design. Barak Turowsky was born in the USSR, lived and worked in Israel before moving to the United States.  At his request, the conversation was conducted in English, but during the interview Mr. Turowsky frequently switched to Russian.

Since I read the interview in Russian, the translation of an excerpt of the interview below is mine, not Google Translate. Although Turowsky’s words are given in quotes, these might not be the exact verbiage he used when he spoke in English. The likelihood that Mr. Turovsky will check my translation for accuracy is rather small. Should it happen, however, I can always put a blame on… Google Translate. So there.

– What is the weight of Google Translate in the company?

“The Translator is a very important product for us, and Google allocated significant resources to its development. The main reason for this is that almost 50% of the Internet content is in English. However, only about 20% of the people proficient in English. This is a very serious obstacle for effective use of the Internet. In fact, there are two obstacles. First, there is an infrastructure barrier: a huge number of people, for example in China and India, do not have access to the Internet at all. But this situation is gradually changing, thanks to the development of mobile Internet and smartphones. Thus nowadays people in these countries often go directly to the mobile Internet. However, they immediately encounter a language barrier, and this effectively limits their usage of the Internet.

Therefore, Google Translate is a priority product for us. The Translator is an immensely popular product — nearly a half billion people per month use it, we translate about 140 billion words per day.”

– Is Google Translate main goal mostly ideological — to unite the world, or mostly commercial — to attract more users?

“For our users, the Translator is free.  My main task as the Product Lead is to provide services to as many people as possible. Another important goal is to simplify access to the Internet, remove barriers that hinder its effective use. Personally, I’m not concerned about monetization whatsoever.

– Let’s talk about the design for which you are also responsible. Design in Google Translate clearly does not play a leading role. At least, it looks rather simple and over the years the project has undergone a minimum of changes. Is is so?

“You are absolutely right. Google Translator is a tool, its task is to be useful and convenient, and the design should therefore be minimalistic in order not to interfere with its effective use. But we constantly introduce new mechanisms and ways of interaction with the Translator, for example, using a mobile phone or camera. There is the Word Lens — a function that allows to use the technology of augmented reality to aim the camera at the text and translate it.”

– Has the translator learned to work with pairs of languages directly, bypassing English?

“Not quite yet. The popularity of English on the Internet means that the vast majority of training data is a translation from English into other languages and back. And if a user needs to translate from Russian into Japanese, in most cases we have to translate first from Russian into English and then into Japanese. Of course, direct translation would be better, but we support translation from 103 languages, that is, the number of their combinations is 103 square, it is more than ten thousand language pairs. For training it is very difficult.

But neural translation allows machines to learn to work with multiple languages at the same time. For example, languages can be combined into related groups, which greatly simplifies our work. In addition, within the related groups, we can create working models that do not need English language as an intermediary.”

Further in the interview, Turovsky answers questions about putting a Neural Machine Translation into action. Instead of me competing with Google Translator, I suggest you to read Barak Turovsky’s related blog articles  Google’s new translation software is powered by brainlike artificial intelligence and Found in translation: More accurate, fluent sentences in Google Translate.



Trash As Art

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама Portuguese street artist Artur Bordalo creates monumental three-dimensional sculptures of animals using, well, garbage that people routinely throw out, depositing their refuse not necessarily in or around designated garbage disposal places. Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама  The artist wants to draw public attention to environmental pollution.Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама Arthur creates three-dimensional animals from garbage and old rubbish, which people throw out.Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама Artur’s work can be found not only in Portugal, but also in other countries, in particular in the United States and Estonia. Presumably, he doesn’t transport his native Portuguese garbage but uses local materials easily found no matter wherever he goes.  Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

Скульптуры животных из мусора и хлама

It Hurts!

The Milgram Experiment  of 1961 showed ordinary people were willing to inflict terrible pain on a stranger when ‘following orders’. Stanley Milgram, an American social psychologist, attempted to test social compliance. His inspiration was the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann’s defense for arranging the mass killing of Jews was that he was only ‘following orders’.

Derren Brown recreated the experiment in his 2006 documentary The Heist. His findings differed not the whole lot from the Milgram original most subjects would, indeed, harm others, following orders given by persons of authority.

Human nature, surely, must’ve changed in fifty years! We’ve become more independent, less subservient, more defiant, freer thinkers, less willing to obey the authority without questioning its motives. More humane! That’s it. Haven’t we become all of the above?  We must have! Well? What?

Yes. Human nature have changed.  If anything, it has got worse. 

This time, 80 participants were recruited, including women as well as men, and 90 per cent were willing to inflict the highest shock level of 450 volts to a complicit “learner” screaming in agony.

Social psychologist Dr Tomasz Grzyb, from the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Poland, said: “Upon learning about Milgram’s experiments, a vast majority of people claim that ‘I would never behave in such a manner’.

“Our study has, yet again, illustrated the tremendous power of the situation the subjects are confronted with and how easily they can agree to things which they find unpleasant.”

The participants, aged 18 to 69, were shown an electric generator which was demonstrated by administering a mild shock of 45 volts.

Volunteers were given a series of 10 levers to press, each appearing to send a successively higher shock to the learner – out of sight in a neighbouring room – via electrodes attached to the wrist.

In reality, no electric shocks were delivered, and, as in the original experiment, the learner was playing a role.

After pressing lever number two, “successive impulses of electricity ” resulted in screams of increasing pain from the learner,” the scientists wrote in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

“These screams were recorded and played back at appropriate moments.”

The “teachers” were told they were taking part in research on memory and learning.

Just as in Milgram’s experiment, they were spurred on by prompts from the supervising scientist such as “the experiment requires that you continue”, “it is absolutely essential that you continue”, and “you have no other choice, you must go on”.

Mercy was more apparent when the learner was a woman. In this case, the number of participants refusing to carry out the orders of the experimenter was three times higher than when the person receiving the “shocks” was a man.

Dr Grzyb concluded: “Half a century after Milgram’s original research into obedience to authority, a striking majority of subjects are still willing to electrocute a helpless individual.” 

The above is a quote from the article in The Telegraph with a telling title, Nine in 10 people would electrocute others if ordered, rerun of infamous Milgram Experiment shows.

The article also mentions a recent study conducted at St Andrew’s University. The study suggests that people were happy to inflict pain on others if they believed it was for the greater good. The researchers looked back through records of the original experiment and found that those who took part were not unhappy with their choice.

So much for the humanity, human morals and its spirit, healthy and free. Makes you want to scream, “It hurts!”

Genres Of Idiot

Image result“I’m An Idiot” — news release.
“He Is An Idiot” — review.
“We Are Idiots” — news analysis.
“You Are Idiots” — column.
“They Are Idiots” — investigative journalism.
“Now You Know, They’re Idiots!”Ambush journalism,  special report.
“No, YOU Are An Idiot” — commentary.
“Tell Me The Truth, Are You An Idiot?” — interview.
“Perhaps, He Is An Idiot” — opinion column.
“Among Idiots” — report.
“Life Of An Idiot” — biography.
“Being An Idiot” — an autobiography.
“Long Live The Idiot!” — a pamphlet.
“Naked Idiot!” — yellow journalism.
“This Idiot Is A Moron!” — Solutions journalism
“Everyone Is An Idiot” — essay.
“Sex With An Idiot” — celebrity journalism.
“An Idiot And I”— Social news.
“The Stupidest Of Idiots” — rating,  Sensationalism.
“Kim Jong-un Is An Idiot” — political article.
“The Idiot” — a novel.

Sick Genius

  • CRISPR-Cas9 is a unique technology that enables geneticists and medical researchers to edit parts of the genome by removing, adding or altering sections of the DNA sequence.
  • It is currently the simplest, most versatile and precise method of genetic manipulation and is therefore causing a buzz in the science world.

How does it work? That’s how. Amazing stuff, really. However… Editing genes to eliminate cancer or Schizophrenia could stop the rise of geniuses, scientist warns.

 If you haven’t followed the link, the article sums up the following: Dr. James Kozubek, the author of ‘Modern Prometheus: Editing the Human Genome with Crispr-Cas9’ suggests that the gene-editing technology Crispr-Cas9 — which is being tested in the US and China to curb the spread of cancer — is not completely a positive.

In 'Modern Prometheus,' Kozubek says the gene-editing technology Crispr-Cas9 ¿ which is being tested in the US and China to curb the spread of cancer ¿ is not  completely a positive thing‘Before we begin modifying our genes with gene editing tools such as Crispr-Cas9, we’d be smart to recall that genetic variants that contribute to psychiatric conditions may even be beneficial depending on the environment or genetic background.’

In a word, while gene modification technique is being tested in the US and China to curb the spread of cancer and it may also erase depression or Schizophrenia, it could eliminate geniuses — as high intelligence are often associated with such disorders.

  • Writers are 10 times more likely to have Bipolar Disorder.
  • Poets are diagnosed with it 40 times more often than the general population.
  • Thomas Edison was ‘addled’ and kicked out of school.
  • Tennessee Williams, as a teenager on the boulevards of Paris felt afraid of the process of thought and came within a hairsbreadth of going quite mad.
  • Scientists tend to think of variations in life as problems to be solved, deviations and abnormalities outside of a normal curve.
  • In reality, Darwin showed us that evolution does not progress toward an ideal concept or model, but rather is a work of tinkering toward adaptation in local niches.

Go and figure…

Rooms With A View


Banksy.jpgBETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) — A Palestinian guest house packed with artwork by the elusive British graffiti artist Banksy unveiled itself Friday in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, with a sneak peek of what the owner called the “hotel with the worst view in the world.”

Banksy has made previous forays into the Palestinian territories. In one secret visit, he drew a painting of a girl pulled upward by balloons on the barrier facing his current project. Last year, he is believed to have sneaked into Gaza to draw four street murals, including one on a metal door that depicted the Greek goddess Niobe cowering against the rubble of a destroyed house. The painting, titled “Bomb Damage,” was drawn on the last remaining part of a two-story house that was destroyed in the 2014 war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

banksy1Wisam Salsaa, 42, said the nine-room Walled Off Hotel will officially open on Mar. 11, but he offered a handful of reporters a tour. The hotel looks directly out at the West Bank separation barrier erected by Israel to ward off potential Palestinian attackers. The barrier, which Palestinians consider to be a land grab that stifles their movement, is heavily decorated by artists, and Banksy has previously painted several murals on a walled segment of it.banksy2The hotel  has the markings of a gentleman’s club from the English colonial period. One small niche accommodates a life-size figure of Arthur James Balfour signing the 1917 letter that came to be known as the Balfour declaration — the basis for the international push for the creation of Israel. banksyThe cheapest room, $30 a night, is a dormitory-style room with bunkbeds.

The whole project took 14 months to complete and was kept under complete secrecy, in accordance with Banksy’s request to protect his anonymity. 

 An Israeli security watch tower is seen from one of the roomsSalsaa said the entire interior was personally overseen by Banksy, to the very last details. The hotel is the largest new body of the artist’s work in years, according to a press release distributed by representatives who attended Friday’s tour.The hotel, several of whose rooms look onto an Israeli security watchtower, is awash in the trademark satirical work of the mysterious artist. The highlight is Room 3, where guests sleep in a king-size bed underneath Banksy’s artwork showing a Palestinian and an Israeli in a pillow fight.

The artist’s satirical stencils — rats, kissing policemen, riot police with yellow smiley faces — first appeared on walls in Bristol before spreading to London and then around the world. His artwork comments on war, child poverty and the environment. His identity remains a mystery, but his works have fetched as much as $1.8 million at auctions. (From the article by NEBI QENA, AP News).

Articles on Banksy’s newest endeavor appeared in The Telegraph (The Walled Off Hotel: Banksy opens dystopian tourist attraction in Bethlehem) and many other publications and internet sources.

Testosterone Plays the Market

A team of researchers of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) determined that exaggerated risk-taking in financial and business endeavors is driven by… increased levels of testosterone.

Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and an anabolic steroid. In men, testosterone plays a key role in the development of male reproductive tissues such as the testis and prostate, as well as promoting secondary sexual characteristics such as increased muscle and bone mass, and the growth of body hair. (Wikipedia.)

This phenomenon creates a state-of-mind where stock brokers feel their luck is unstoppable and things go their way no matter what.  The rise in testosterone level after a successful investment causes the individual loose all care, to take risks with abandon, which, in turn, creates stock market price bubbles.

Female stock brokers, research shows, seem to be largely unaffected, presumably due to lack of testosterone.

Stock market ‘bubbles’ can be caused by soaring testosterone levels among traders.

Makes you wonder, isn’t it? 

The effect is driven by the rise in testosterone level that occurs from a successful investment, which in turn causes the individual to take risks and create price bubbles.

It was also only found to affect performance among men, not women.

Stock market ‘bubbles’ can be caused by soaring testosterone levels among traders.