What does it take to create the Babel Fish, a tool that can help individuals translate speech between any two languages? While recent breakthroughs in text-based models have pushed machine translation coverage beyond 200 languages, unified speech-to-speech translation models have yet to achieve similar strides. More specifically, conventional speech-to-speech translation systems rely on cascaded systems that perform translation progressively, putting high-performing unified systems out of reach. To address these gaps, we introduce SeamlessM4T, a single model that supports speech-to-speech translation, speech-to-text translation, text-to-speech translation, text-to-text translation, and automatic speech recognition for up to 100 languages. To build this, we used 1 million hours of open speech audio data to learn self-supervised speech representations with w2v-BERT 2.0. Subsequently, we created a multimodal corpus of automatically aligned speech translations. Filtered and combined with human-labeled and pseudo-labeled data, we developed the first multilingual system capable of translating from and into English for both speech and text. On FLEURS, SeamlessM4T sets a new standard for translations into multiple target languages, achieving an improvement of 20% BLEU over the previous SOTA in direct speech-to-text translation. Compared to strong cascaded models, SeamlessM4T improves the quality of into-English translation by 1.3 BLEU points in speech-to-text and by 2.6 ASR-BLEU points in speech-to-speech. Tested for robustness, our system performs better against background noises and speaker variations in speech-to-text tasks compared to the current SOTA model. Critically, we evaluated SeamlessM4T on gender bias and added toxicity to assess translation safety. Finally, all contributions in this work are open-sourced and accessible at https://github.com/facebookresearch/seamless_communication
End-to-End speech-to-speech translation (S2ST) is generally evaluated with text-based metrics. This means that generated speech has to be automatically transcribed, making the evaluation dependent on the availability and quality of automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems. In this paper, we propose a text-free evaluation metric for end-to-end S2ST, named BLASER, to avoid the dependency on ASR systems. BLASER leverages a multilingual multimodal encoder to directly encode the speech segments for source input, translation output and reference into a shared embedding space and computes a score of the translation quality that can be used as a proxy to human evaluation. To evaluate our approach, we construct training and evaluation sets from more than 40k human annotations covering seven language directions. The best results of BLASER are achieved by training with supervision from human rating scores. We show that when evaluated at the sentence level, BLASER correlates significantly better with human judgment compared to ASR-dependent metrics including ASR-SENTBLEU in all translation directions and ASR-COMET in five of them. Our analysis shows combining speech and text as inputs to BLASER does not increase the correlation with human scores, but best correlations are achieved when using speech, which motivates the goal of our research. Moreover, we show that using ASR for references is detrimental for text-based metrics.
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 No Language Left Behind, we took on this challenge by first contextualizing the need for low-resource language 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. More specifically, we developed a conditional compute model based on Sparsely Gated Mixture of Experts that is trained on data obtained with novel and effective data mining techniques tailored for low-resource languages. We propose 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. Finally, we open source all contributions described in this work, accessible at https://github.com/facebookresearch/fairseq/tree/nllb.