Driven by the goal of eradicating language barriers on a global scale, machine translation has solidified itself as a key focus of artificial intelligence research today. However, such efforts have coalesced around a small subset of languages, leaving behind the vast majority of mostly low-resource languages. What does it take to break the 200 language barrier while ensuring safe, high-quality results, all while keeping ethical considerations in mind? In this talk, I introduce No Language Left Behind, an initiative to break language barriers for low-resource languages. In No Language Left Behind, we took on the low-resource language translation challenge by first contextualizing the need for translation support through exploratory interviews with native speakers. Then, we created datasets and models aimed at narrowing the performance gap between low and high-resource languages. We proposed multiple architectural and training improvements to counteract overfitting while training on thousands of tasks. Critically, we evaluated the performance of over 40,000 different translation directions using a human-translated benchmark, Flores-200, and combined human evaluation with a novel toxicity benchmark covering all languages in Flores-200 to assess translation safety. Our model achieves an improvement of 44% BLEU relative to the previous state-of-the-art, laying important groundwork towards realizing a universal translation system in an open-source manner.
Angela is a research scientist at Meta AI Research in New York, focusing on supporting efforts in speech and language research. Recent projects include No Language Left Behind (https://ai.facebook.com/research/no-language-left-behind/) and Universal Speech Translation for Unwritten Languages (https://ai.facebook.com/blog/ai-translation-hokkien/). Before translation, Angela previously focused on research in on-device models for NLP and computer vision and text generation.
The arms race to build increasingly larger, powerful language models (LMs) in the past year has been remarkable. Yet incorporating LMs effectively into practical applications that facilitate manual workflows remains challenging. I will discuss LMs’ limiting factors and our efforts to overcome them. I will start with challenges surrounding efficient and robust LM alignment. I will share insights from our recent paper “Self-Instruct” (ACL 2023), where we used vanilla (unaligned) LMs for aligning itself, an approach that has yielded some success. Then, I will move on to the challenge of tracing the output of LMs to reliable sources, a weakness that makes them prone to hallucinations. I will discuss our recent approach of ‘according-to’ prompting, which steers LMs to quote directly from sources observed in its pre-training. If time permits, I will discuss our ongoing project to adapt LMs to interact with web pages. Throughout the presentation, I will highlight our progress, and end with questions about our future progress.
Daniel Khashabi is an assistant professor in computer science at Johns Hopkins University and the Center for Language and Speech Processing (CLSP) member. He is interested in building reasoning-driven modular NLP systems that are robust, transparent, and communicative, particularly those that use natural language as the communication medium. Khashabi has published over 40 papers on natural language processing and AI in top-tier venues. His work touches upon developing. His research has won the ACL 2023 Outstanding Paper Award, NAACL 2022 Best Paper Award, research gifts from the Allen Institute for AI, and an Amazon Research Award 2023. Before joining Hopkins, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Allen Institute for AI (2019-2022) and obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2019.