ICE Is Using Busted Translation AI That Can't Understand Detainees

Lost in Translation Bad AI has a price — and in the case of the United States immigration system, that price could cost people their freedom. As The Guardian reports, immigration officials have been instructed to use free programs like Google Translate or Microsoft Translator to communicate with the people they detain, which can result in inaccurate or confusing information being given to detainees or put down on their applications. One agency, Customs and Border Patrol, has created its own translation app, known as “CBP One,” but as the report notes, it can only translate to and from a handful of languages, and even in the tongues it recognizes, there are errors. The report cites a number of examples of this effect, from an FAQ page being transformed into a string of letters when the app is asked to translate into Haitian Creole to asylum applicants being denied because of small grammatical discrepancies. In one such case recounted by Ariel Koren, the founder of the Respond Crisis Translation emergency interpreter network, an asylum-seeker who was trying to flee her abusive father described the man in colloquial Spanish as “mi jefe,” which the translation app took literally to mean her “boss.” Her application for asylum was thusly denied. “Not only do the asylum applications have to be translated, but the government will frequently weaponize small language technicalities to justify deporting someone,” Koren, who once worked at Google Translate, told The Guardian. “The application needs to be absolutely perfect.” Dialectics If things are…ICE Is Using Busted Translation AI That Can't Understand Detainees

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