What happened: iFlytek, one of China’s top AI company known for voice recognition and translation services, has been accused of claiming to have used its language software for simultaneous translation at a conference while a great part of the work is done by a human interpreter. An interpreter working at the event told local media that iFlytek misled the audience to believe that the speech transcriptions were done by the company’s translation software, while in fact, it’s just reading the transcripts done by a human interpreter. The company rebuked the claim later, emphasizing that they are adopting an “human-machine coupling” approach.
Why it’s important: Translation is one of the most popular areas where AI technology is being applied. It is reasonable for iFlytek to combine people with machines to provide better services given the technology is still in a preliminary stage and there’s a lot of technical problems to solve. But what angered the local media is the way iFlytek promotes its product. The company has been relatively inexplicitly about human factors in their services, and most of their promotions are on the high accuracy rates of the service.