Machine Translation Startup Lesan has partnered with the Distributed AI Research Institute (DAIR) to study and develop open-source natural language processing tools for Ge’ez-based languages in social media settings.
DAIR, an institute that focuses on producing interdisciplinary artificial intelligence research, welcomed Lesan warmly on its Twitter timeline post last week, mentioning that Asmelash Teka had joined as a part-time fellow.
Natural Language Processing (NLP) is a discipline within artificial intelligence that leverages linguistics and computer science to make human language intelligible to machines. NLP can find meaningful information in seconds by automatically allowing computers to analyze massive data sets.
NLP is a driving force behind applications like Google Translate, Microsoft Word, Grammarly, and many more.
Asmelash Teka and Adam Beaudoin cofounded Lesan in 2019 with a mission to democratize access to the web world for millions of people by delivering content in their language.
Because of language barriers, millions of people cannot consume content on the web. Lesan believes everyone should have equal access to information to help them understand the world and should be able to consume web content in their native language.
To achieve this mission, they built machine translation systems for languages with millions of speakers, starting in Ethiopia.
With the up and running platform, https://lesan.ai/, Lesan delivers document translations for Ethiopian languages, and the languages they currently cover are Amharic, Tigrigna, Afaan Oromoo, Somali, and English.
Lesan also offers APIs that allow companies to instantly and accurately translate content to and from Ethiopian languages.
The next milestone announced by the partnership is to create open source tools for social media analysis in Ge’ez-based languages such as Tigrinya, Tigre, and Amharic.
Timnit Gebru, a widely respected leader in AI ethics research, is known for coauthoring a groundbreaking paper that showed facial recognition to be less accurate at identifying women and people of color, which means its use can end up discriminating against them. She also co-founded the Black in AI affinity group and championed diversity in the tech industry.
Timnit founded DAIR after Google fired her in December 2020 for raising workplace discrimination issues, where she was serving as co-lead of the Ethical AI research team.
DAIR is an independent, community-rooted institute set up to counter Big Tech’s pervasive influence on AI research, development, and deployment.
Lesan has told Shega they share DAIR’s research philosophies in building responsibly.
“We also see synergy in the research directions at DAIR on building AI for low resource settings, serving marginalized communities, and social media activity,” Lesan told Shega via email.
Lesan is benefiting from the partnership with DAIR by having top-grade researchers be involved in their AI projects and bringing out quality products for the community. DAIR
will deliver both funding and the required computing power for Lesan.