Google is attempting to reduce gender bias in its Google Translate tool with the latest update announced today, which offers separate translations for different genders when translating from languages that use gender-neutral words into those that don't.
While some languages, such as English, tend to use the same word for things such as adjectives, professions, and others regardless of gender, many others tend to make a distinction between masculine and feminine words. Because Google Translate typically would only offer one result, it would usually pick the word that's more commonly used in the examples it learns from.
This means that, if a word was more commonly used in its masculine variant in those examples, the tool would offer that variant as a translation, replicating the pre-existing gender biases for that word. Examples for this include words such as "doctor" being translated as masculine and "beautiful" being considered feminine.
With this update, Google Translate will now offer both masculine and feminine translations for gender neutral words and sentences and present them as equally relevant. For now, it's possible to translate words from English into French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese to get the differentiated results. As for sentences, you can only translate from Turkish into English, as seen in the example below.
Google plans to expand the feature into more languages in the future, and while it's only available on the web, it'll also come to the mobile apps. The company seems to be more concerned about social issues today as compared to three years ago, when it was forced to apologize for homophobic slur in its translation tool.