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Telehealth Firm Amwell to Adopt Google AI, Translation Tech

Technology

Promising advances to the telehealth services industry, Amwell will integrate Google Cloud AI capabilities for natural language processing and medical transcription services, among other new services.

Since the onset of the pandemic, telehealth services have skyrocketed. A Department of Health and Human Services statistical report found that in April, about 43% of primary care visits through Medicare were via telehealth. Before the pandemic, more than 99% of Medicare-funded visits were in-person appointments. From March through early July, the agency says, more than 10 million Medicare beneficiaries used telehealth services. With broad telehealth coverage more vital than ever, though, demands for language services have risen considerably as well.

Seeing the opportunity for growth, Google recently pledged to invest $100 million into Amwell, formerly known as American Well, a company that builds technology for virtual doctors’ visits. Launching in 2006, Amwell currently works with 55 health plans, which support over 36,000 employers and represent more than 80 million covered individuals, as well as 150 of the nation’s largest health systems. It has powered more than 5.6 million telehealth visits for its clients, including over 3 million since the shutdown began.

The partnership will leverage Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies to create a comprehensive virtual care experience for patients and providers that goes beyond visits and includes services like self-triage or remote patient monitoring (RPM) capabilities. Google plans to work closely with Amwell to integrate its AI capabilities into Amwell’s virtual care platform, particularly in natural language processing and medical transcription services. This could have interesting implications for the language service industry, particularly the life sciences sector.

Additionally, Amwell will move parts of its business from Amazon Web Services to Google Cloud, recognizing Google Cloud as its “preferred global cloud partner.” Specifically, Amwell will move some video performance capabilities to Google Cloud. The two companies will also collaborate on technology and work to expand Amwell’s footprint in the sector.

“With this partnership, Google Cloud and Amwell see an opportunity to improve patient and clinician telehealth experiences through technologies that can automate waiting room and checkout; provide automated language translation services; advance population health by making it easier for more patients to receive care; and assist payers and providers in routine tasks, by intelligently triaging cases and reducing clinician burnout,” mentioned a Google Cloud blog post.

The post went on to describe how machine translation is being integrated into the system: “A conversational chatbot agent is immediately available to assist you, in your preferred language, by asking about your symptoms and the reason for your visit, and provides this information to your physician before she enters your virtual exam room. During your appointment, you continue to speak in your preferred language to your physician, while cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) provides live, translated captioning of the conversation.”

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Journalist at MultiLingual Magazine | + posts

Jonathan Pyner is a poet, freelance writer, and translator. He has worked as an educator for nearly a decade in the US and Taiwan, and he recently completed a master’s of fine arts in creative writing.

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SDL Tados 2021

Friday Roundup

Language Industry News and Events

News you may have missed from the last week

Akorbi Ranked as Largest Woman-Owned LSP in the US

Akorbi, a US-based group of companies specializing in language, technology, and global workforce solutions, has earned rankings that make the company the largest privately owned, woman-owned language service provider (LSP) in the United States. The company is ranked #29 and #35 in the world by CSA Research and Nimdzi Insights, respectively. Akorbi has ranked #11 on CSA Research’s North American list. As a top-ranked member of the multibillion-dollar global language services industry, Akorbi is one of only a few women-owned LSPs operating successfully in the global market.

Polyglotte releases new free app

Polyglotte Inc. has released a new free app for iPad, which first launched in 2016. The Polyglotte app involves a patented multilingual keyboard that makes it easy for users to type in several languages with the same keyboard layout. The app got an update and a makeover just in time for the pandemic — bored children can type upside-down. Others can enjoy multilingual typing, legal, math and finance symbols. An earlier version, polyKB One, supported the iPhone as well, but has been discontinued. Supporting the iPhone in the future will require some bug fixes and a UX redesign. The Polyglotte app for iPad works exactly like Polyglotte ES, and serves as a great demo for those interested in clacking away on multilingual mechanical keyboards.

Straker publishes annual meeting results

The annual meeting results outline resolutions from the Straker meeting, including the election of Director Amanda Cribb and the re-election of Director Paul Wilson, along with several amendments to company terms and an alteration of the company constitution.

Appen releases AI Readiness Assessment tool

Designed to level-set companies pursuing AI, Appen’s assessment aims to provide practical guidance on how to effectively leverage AI. The announcement follows the 2020 State of AI and Machine Learning report, in which 82% of respondents reported utilizing AI in their business.

Keywords Studios PLC announces the acquisition of Maverick Media Limited

Keywords Studios, the international technical and creative services provider to the global video games industry, announced the acquisition of Maverick, a video games creative marketing agency, for £3.6m. The acquisition progresses the group’s goal to become the premier technical and creative services platform for the global video games industry.

Microsoft Translator adds two Kurdish dialects for text translation

Northern and Central Kurdish dialects will now be available on the Microsoft Translator app, Office, and Translator for Bing. Users can also use Azure Cognitive Services Speech to add Northern and Central Kurdish to more than 70 other languages. Northern Kurdish, also known as Kurmanji, is spoken in Turkey, Syria, northern Iraq, and northwest and northeast Iran by 15-17 million Kurds. Central Kurdish, known as Sorani, is spoken in Iraqi Kurdistan and western Iran by 9-12 million Kurds. The two languages make up about 75% of all Kurdish speakers.

Google Translate now lets users save transcripts of real-time speech transcriptions

The Google Translate App acquired a new feature in March that allowed users to transcribe and translate speech in near real-time. Google is now rolling out an update to the feature that will allow users to save transcriptions for later reference. Google Translate’s transcription feature currently supports nine languages: English, French, German, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, and Italian.

China sees 210,000 new AI-related enterprises

Growing by over 45% this year, the number of AI-related enterprises has skyrocketed as entrepreneurs flock to the industry, according to Xinhua News Agency. Nearly 950,000 companies in China have developed in the areas of AI, data processing, cloud computing, voice and image recognition, and natural language processing.

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MultiLingual creates go-to news and resources for language industry professionals.

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Google, gender and money

Localization Culture

Google is scrambling to distance itself from a ten-page memo currently circulating around the internet and written by an employee. A male, self-described “classical liberal” outlined his ideas on gender in a document he titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.” In it, he appeals to generalities about men and women’s psychology as it relates to tech and leadership, and objects to some of Google’s gender-related practices, including a focus on too much sensitivity.

“Our focus on microaggressions and other unintentional transgressions increases our sensitivity, which is not universally positive,” the employee notes, claiming that “sensitivity increases both our tendency to take offense and our self censorship, leading to authoritarian policies. Speaking up without the fear of being harshly judged is central to psychological safety, but these practices can remove that safety by judging unintentional transgressions.”

The employee states that his bias is shaped by his US-based Google campus, saying that things may be different elsewhere. However, he specifically mentions wage gaps, stating that “we need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism.”

Common Sense Advisory (CSA Research) came out with a response this morning focusing on the positives of having women in leadership roles in the global tech-interfacing localization industry.

Drawing from CSA Research’s recent survey on gender in the localization industry, Arle Lommel notes that “employees at providers with female CEOs bring in 37% more revenue per employee than those run by men. This difference persisted across all company sizes we examined. Women CEOs are also much more likely than their male counterparts to have an operations background, meaning they succeed precisely because of their technical skills in the field.”

selling pineapple

Stereotypes about who traditionally does what in a job may vary depending on location. They are not based on psychological universals. Here, a man and a woman work on a boat selling pineapples in Vietnam. Photo by Katie Botkin.

It’s always intriguing to see evidence of this kind of thing in hard data. I read the piece, actually, immediately after having had an unrelated money conversation with a male business owner over breakfast. He was freaking out about his profit and loss sheets, and was unsure how he’d managed to spend so much. We talked through it and I said it seemed pretty clear how he’d managed to spend so much: he was making ideology-based decisions about money rather than strictly budget-based decisions. In short, he was being emotional about money, his employees and the kind of work he wanted to do. And maybe he could do that, but he’d have to build it into his budget and sell it as an added bonus.

I’m not going to assume all men do this with money. Psychologically, it’s interesting to note that men can be invested in the idea of being “providers” to the point that it may influence their choices around money. But then, this can also be true of women. It’s true of people in general. People want to take care of each other, and sometimes they prioritize that over hard money decisions.

 

 

 

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Katie Botkin, Editor-in-Chief at MultiLingual, has a background in linguistics and journalism. She began publishing "multilingual" newsletters at the age of 15, and went on to invest her college and post-graduate career in language learning, teaching and writing. She has extensive experience with niche American microcultures across the political spectrum.

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Boaty McBoatface: Man versus Machine at Localization World

Language in Business, Translation Technology

Yes, the whole Boaty McBoatface thing has now entered the language space too.

Boaty McBoatface: Your future of translation may lie in machine learning and related technology

Boaty McBoatface: Your future of translation may lie in machine learning and related technology.

Parsey McParseface, part of Google’s SyntaxNet, an open-source neural network framework implemented in TensorFlow that provides a foundation for Natural Language Understanding (NLU) systems is out there:

Parsey McParseface is built on powerful machine learning algorithms that learn to analyze the linguistic structure of language, and that can explain the functional role of each word in a given sentence. Because Parsey McParseface is the most accurate such model in the world, we hope that it will be useful to developers and researchers interested in automatic extraction of information, translation, and other core applications of NLU.

I wonder could Parsey McParseface have a role in determining if a translation was correct or incorrect, given the context (or as the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper would so earthily have it, act as a “bolloxometer“)? Whither the QA or real-time interpretation possibilities.

This is all fascinating stuff sure, and definitely machine learning is a driver of smart user experiences, along with other areas. The Globalization, Internationalization, Localization, and Translation (or GILT) industry needs to be onboard with these emerging technologies and explore their possible application.

It’s the kind of thing I had intended to talk about at Localization World 31 in Dublin (yes, I even included Parsey McParseface). Alas, personal circumstances intervened and I did not speak. Some other time perhaps.

In the meantime, I am sharing the slides I had intended as a backdrop to the discussion. Perhaps they will help you orient yourself to the differences between machine learning, artificial intelligence, NLP, Big Data, robots, and more. They may even help you figure out if you have a future in the GILT industry and what that might look like.

Enjoy:

Smart UX in the World of Work

Context is King: Smart UX in the World of Work

Smart User Experiences and the World of Work: Context is King from Ultan O’Broin

Comments welcome.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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Arabic Web Days

Language in the News, Language Industry News and Events, Localization Culture

A great initiative is being launched by Google to increase the volume of Arabic web content on the web. Google tell us that to “help build a vibrant Arabic web, we’ve created Arabic Web Days, an initiative in the Middle East and North Africa focused on boosting the amount of Arabic content online.”

Arabic Language in the Arabic Al-Bayan Script

al-ʿArabiyyah (Arabic Language) in written Arabic. Source: WikiPedia

Check it out. Lots of interesting events are planned, leveraging the best of Google’s community outreach, partner relationships, and technology capability. We can learn from this initiative for other languages too. What might such days offer for Basque (Euskara) or Irish (Gaeilge) I wonder?

Arabic is clearly under represented on the web. Only about 3 percent of the total digital content online is in Arabic whereas Arabic speakers make up more than 5 percent of the world’s population. Many more understand the language due to the holy Quran.

Although we often think of Arabic language web technical issues (which revolve around the issues of ligature shaping, characters, and bidirectionality) as being resolved in these days of Unicode, it’s still worth reading up on the nuances, particularly as we’re coming from a low volume and legacy content base. I recommend the W3C insights such as these from Richard Ishida.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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The Berlin Wall of Code

Language in the News, Translation Technology

Too soon?

Google Developer Day Berlin 2011 Code Wall of Fame

Google Developer Day Berlin 2011 Code Wall of Fame

Hardly. I took that photograph at the Google Developer Day in Berlin in November 2011. Google runs these events globally. The event itself was very well attended with some excellent presentations on Android, Google TV, App Engine, and a tonne more. Coloured me excited by those Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich user experience guidance sessions aimed at developers, too.

All serious tech players run such events and a lot of them are free to attend provided that you apply in time and your credentials are even reasonably credible. So, why not add some of these events to your conference calendar?

The point of all this is that as language industry professionals you can steal a march on localizing emerging technology and new interactions by attending such events. Start your research into terminology, style, cultural differences, and so on, before anyone even thinks about approaching you for your services.

Watch out for sessions on user experience and design guidance in particular. You could even influence matters in the right direction before it’s too late.

Remember this: In the global mobile app development space it’s increasingly likely that it’s just going to be you, the translator, and the app developer sitting at his or her kitchen table. Understanding this tech stuff and how it’s developed is important.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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Google Translate is Finished. Again.

Language in the News, Translation Technology

We’ve heard this before. This time it’s somewhat truer. Google Translate itself (http://translate.google.com/) isn’t finished, but the API allowing third-party developers to use Google Translate as a service is. Google Translate in its own right will continue.

Google has deprecated the API because of excessive abuse (presumably from people using it to manipulate search results through mass translation of web content). The reaction from developers has been pretty hostile (see the comments). The translation industry, on the other hand, has stayed smugly silent, save for a few posts about the API demise and how it might impact existing professional tools, impact on the language industry, and so on. How sad. Nobody really wins in this, I think.

Personally, I feel this move is a big loss to the world’s information-sharing efforts. Google Translate API is widely used by web and mobile app developers, and it is really playing a role in translating that explosion of community content that we hear about.

On top of all that, a bigger question remains: What developer–operating in the globalization space or otherwise–will trust using these (or indeed other) APIs in their development efforts again? Will existing uptake now have to back out Google Translate in favor of another API solution by end of the year?

The Google Translate service isn’t all that bad for the free translation of non-domain specific content and general use when your life didn’t depend on it, but your purchase or vacation might. My position was that Google Translate offered as a service directly, or through website and mobile apps, isn’t an alternative to the paid translation variant but the alternative to no translation at all. And that is what many will now get for a while: No translation at all.

I guess Bing Translator and other solutions will win out in the API space now. However, I am sure that we have not heard the last from Google in the automated information translation–as a service–space…though you may have to pay something for it…

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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