With the global population of refugees and immigrants hitting record levels, nations are facing an increasing challenge of integrating new residents who only speak foreign languages. To help address this issue, startup Unbabel is offering its translation product that combines machine learning translation with crowd-sourced interpretation services, according to Forbes.
Unbabel’s non-profit arm has partnered with Speak, a language and cultural exchange program that works to connect local citizens with migrants and refugees.
“By solving the language barrier for migrants and refugees, we hope to contribute to a world where diversity is valued and promoted. We can help more people to feel at home in the cities where they live,” said Hugo Menino Aguia, CEO of Speak, in comments reported by Forbes.
Unbabel said it offers a state-of-the-art neural machine translation system. The company’s technology incorporates customer-specific training data, machine translation engines adapted by content type, and a number of machine learning algorithms.
The output from these systems is then distributed to Unbabel’s community of more than 50,000 bilingual editors. These editors review and edit thousands of words worth of translations daily.
“By harnessing the power of machine learning and a global community of mobile linguists, Unbabel.org is able to remove language barriers where they produce the most friction, helping alleviate the effects of some of the worst humanitarian crises around the world,” the company stated on its site.
Unbabel’s charitable work is a rare piece of good news in a mounting refugee crisis. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates there were 67.8 million persons of concern worldwide at the end of 2016. This total has more than doubled from 30.7 million in 2006.
The U.N. includes a range of people in its definition of persons of concern, including refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced persons and stateless persons.
UNHCR cited Syrians, Iraqis, and Palestinians among the groups driving the refugee numbers higher.
“War, violence, and persecution worldwide are causing more people than ever to be forcibly displaced,” UNHCR stated in a press release. “This adds up to an immense human cost of war and persecution globally…on average one in every 113 people worldwide is today someone who is displaced—a population bigger than that of the world’s 21st most populous country, the United Kingdom.”
Unbabel is seeking partnerships with other charities and non-governmental organizations to provide further translation services to refugees. The company wants to help displaced people translate official documents, obtain legal status, translate resumes and find jobs.
Nirel Marofsky is project analyst for the cognitive engine and application ecosystem at Veritone. She acts as a liaison to strategic partners, integrating developers and their capabilities into the Veritone Platform. Learn more about our platform and join the Veritone developer ecosystem today.