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
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.
A multilingual tokenizer is a fundamental component of multilingual neural machine translation. It is trained from a multilingual corpus. Since a skewed data distribution is considered to be harmful, a sampling strategy is usually used to balance languages in the corpus. However, few works have systematically answered how language imbalance in tokenizer training affects downstream performance. In this work, we analyze how translation performance changes as the data ratios among languages vary in the tokenizer training corpus. We find that while relatively better performance is often observed when languages are more equally sampled, the downstream performance is more robust to language imbalance than we usually expected. Two features, UNK rate and closeness to the character level, can warn of poor downstream performance before performing the task. We also distinguish language sampling for tokenizer training from sampling for model training and show that the model is more sensitive to the latter.
One of the biggest challenges hindering progress in low-resource and multilingual machine translation is the lack of good evaluation benchmarks. Current evaluation benchmarks either lack good coverage of low-resource languages, consider only restricted domains, or are low quality because they are constructed using semi-automatic procedures. In this work, we introduce the FLORES-101 evaluation benchmark, consisting of 3001 sentences extracted from English Wikipedia and covering a variety of different topics and domains. These sentences have been translated in 101 languages by professional translators through a carefully controlled process. The resulting dataset enables better assessment of model quality on the long tail of low-resource languages, including the evaluation of many-to-many multilingual translation systems, as all translations are multilingually aligned. By publicly releasing such a high-quality and high-coverage dataset, we hope to foster progress in the machine translation community and beyond.
Fact checking at scale is difficult -- while the number of active fact checking websites is growing, it remains too small for the needs of the contemporary media ecosystem. However, despite good intentions, contributions from volunteers are often error-prone, and thus in practice restricted to claim detection. We investigate how to increase the accuracy and efficiency of fact checking by providing information about the claim before performing the check, in the form of natural language briefs. We investigate passage-based briefs, containing a relevant passage from Wikipedia, entity-centric ones consisting of Wikipedia pages of mentioned entities, and Question-Answering Briefs, with questions decomposing the claim, and their answers. To produce QABriefs, we develop QABriefer, a model that generates a set of questions conditioned on the claim, searches the web for evidence, and generates answers. To train its components, we introduce QABriefDataset which we collected via crowdsourcing. We show that fact checking with briefs -- in particular QABriefs -- increases the accuracy of crowdworkers by 10% while slightly decreasing the time taken. For volunteer (unpaid) fact checkers, QABriefs slightly increase accuracy and reduce the time required by around 20%.
Existing work in translation demonstrated the potential of massively multilingual machine translation by training a single model able to translate between any pair of languages. However, much of this work is English-Centric by training only on data which was translated from or to English. While this is supported by large sources of training data, it does not reflect translation needs worldwide. In this work, we create a true Many-to-Many multilingual translation model that can translate directly between any pair of 100 languages. We build and open source a training dataset that covers thousands of language directions with supervised data, created through large-scale mining. Then, we explore how to effectively increase model capacity through a combination of dense scaling and language-specific sparse parameters to create high quality models. Our focus on non-English-Centric models brings gains of more than 10 BLEU when directly translating between non-English directions while performing competitively to the best single systems of WMT. We open-source our scripts so that others may reproduce the data, evaluation, and final M2M-100 model.
Pre-training text representations have led to significant improvements in many areas of natural language processing. The quality of these models benefits greatly from the size of the pretraining corpora as long as its quality is preserved. In this paper, we describe an automatic pipeline to extract massive high-quality monolingual datasets from Common Crawl for a variety of languages. Our pipeline follows the data processing introduced in fastText (Mikolov et al., 2017; Grave et al., 2018), that deduplicates documents and identifies their language. We augment this pipeline with a filtering step to select documents that are close to high quality corpora like Wikipedia.
We show that margin-based bitext mining in a multilingual sentence space can be applied to monolingual corpora of billions of sentences. We are using ten snapshots of a curated common crawl corpus (Wenzek et al., 2019) totaling 32.7 billion unique sentences. Using one unified approach for 38 languages, we were able to mine 3.5 billions parallel sentences, out of which 661 million are aligned with English. 17 language pairs have more then 30 million parallel sentences, 82 more then 10 million, and most more than one million, including direct alignments between many European or Asian languages. To evaluate the quality of the mined bitexts, we train NMT systems for most of the language pairs and evaluate them on TED, WMT and WAT test sets. Using our mined bitexts only and no human translated parallel data, we achieve a new state-of-the-art for a single system on the WMT'19 test set for translation between English and German, Russian and Chinese, as well as German/French. In particular, our English/German system outperforms the best single one by close to 4 BLEU points and is almost on pair with best WMT'19 evaluation system which uses system combination and back-translation. We also achieve excellent results for distant languages pairs like Russian/Japanese, outperforming the best submission at the 2019 workshop on Asian Translation (WAT).
This paper shows that pretraining multilingual language models at scale leads to significant performance gains for a wide range of cross-lingual transfer tasks. We train a Transformer-based masked language model on one hundred languages, using more than two terabytes of filtered CommonCrawl data. Our model, dubbed XLM-R, significantly outperforms multilingual BERT (mBERT) on a variety of cross-lingual benchmarks, including +13.8% average accuracy on XNLI, +12.3% average F1 score on MLQA, and +2.1% average F1 score on NER. XLM-R performs particularly well on low-resource languages, improving 11.8% in XNLI accuracy for Swahili and 9.2% for Urdu over the previous XLM model. We also present a detailed empirical evaluation of the key factors that are required to achieve these gains, including the trade-offs between (1) positive transfer and capacity dilution and (2) the performance of high and low resource languages at scale. Finally, we show, for the first time, the possibility of multilingual modeling without sacrificing per-language performance; XLM-Ris very competitive with strong monolingual models on the GLUE and XNLI benchmarks. We will make XLM-R code, data, and models publicly available.