Google Translate learns to reduce gender bias

The function is available in English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Turkish and Spanish.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
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Google continues to make its tools less gender-biased.

On Thursday, the search giant said its Google Translate service will give both a feminine and masculine translation for a single word. Previously, the service defaulted to the masculine options. The new function is available when translating words from English into French, Italian, Portuguese, Turkish and Spanish. It provides a similar function when translating into English.

Google Translate learns from the hundreds of millions of already-translated examples available on the internet, creating an opportunity for the tool to incorporate the gender bias it encountered online, according to a Google blog post announcing the change. With the update, Google Translate will present translations for both genders. For example, if you translate "o bir doktor" from Turkish to English, you'll see "she is a doctor" and "he is a doctor" in the translation box.


Google Translate is getting less gender-biased. 


This isn't the first time the search giant has tried to make its tools less gender-biased. In November, Gmail's Smart Compose technology stopped suggesting gender-based pronouns to reduce the risk of offending people. The AI tool previously defaulted to masculine pronouns.

Google plans to extend this function to more languages in the future and other applications such as its iOS and Android apps. The company also said in the blog post that it's working on how to address non-binary gender in translations.