iFLYTEK, which is one of the top technological companies listed in the "AI development strategy" issued by the government, is a Chinese pioneer in AI innovation. The company mainly works on verbal language recognition and interpreting, and it is said that it will lead the AI technology development in China.
Be that as it may, a week ago, iFLYTEK was blamed for deceiving their audience into thinking that its “AI Interpreter” was naturally interpreting the spokespersons in the seminar, where actually the speeches were interpreted by human interpreters.
One of the human interpreters, Mr. Wang, recounted his story on Zhihu.com. Mr. Wang, at that time, was doing Chinese simultaneous interpreting in the simultaneous booth while the speakers spoke in English on the floor. During the course of the speeches, iFLYtek put two transcripts simultaneously on the big screen. One transcript was the voice-recognised written text of the English speakers, and the other was evidently a Chinese text detected from the interpreters’ translation output. Beside the transcripts, it was tagged with one of iFLYTEK’s logos which read “iFLYREC”.
However, when Mr. Wang went out his booth and saw the English and Chinese transcripts showed on the screen, he noticed that the two versions did not coordinate with each other. Voice recognition of errors in the source English text was not being correctly “AI-processed” into Chinese language, while the so-called Chinese “AI-interpreted” text did not have such mistakes equivalently. When Mr. Wang closely looked at the Chinese version and listened to what his interpreting partner interpreted, Mr. Wang then was shocked that the Chinese transcript was directly plagiarised by its AI recognition technology from his partner sitting in the simultaneous interpreting booth. He said on his post “I was so angry and this is totally a scam!” His post has become popular and greatly reposted by the public, with many people saying that iFLYTEK has tried to do AI interpreting scam for its further financing for business purpose.
iFLYTEK responded to the post that the company has not been dishonest in regards to what their AI products can do. In an announcement for public relations of iFLYTEK, the company explained that it was just a misunderstanding. It contended that iFLYTEK never said that it could offer simultaneous interpreting service, and brought up what it said and announced in the past as evidence. The company then posted an article on its official media on Wechat platform and said that: the cooperation between human and AI translation will become a trend which is a requirement of social development; AI translation will reach TEM-8 level (Test for English Majors Student, Level Eight) in the next year and will meet daily communication requirement, but it will not replace human translation; iFLYTEK technology has already realised audio transcription and interpreting and has put these technologies into services; iFLYTEK did not infringe on the intellectual property rights of simultaneous interpreters and will use legal weapons to protect the company’s reputation.
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