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AI-based real-time chat translator has started working in Roblox

Roblox, which has been trying to appeal to a more adult audience over the past few years, has been working with generative AI models to improve the user experience.

Roblox has created an artificial intelligence model that it says translates text chats so quickly that users may not even notice it is translating other players’ messages. It works with 16 languages, including English, French, Japanese, Thai, Polish and Vietnamese.

Dan Sturman, Roblox’s CTO, told The Verge that the goal is to make it easier for Roblox users to communicate with each other by allowing them to understand what they’re talking about. A translator automatically translates chats, but users can click on an icon to see the original message.

“We know that engagement increases when users speak or interact with others in their native language,” Sturman said. “We took that concept and eliminated the language barrier with automatic translation.”

Roblox started by creating a Transformer-based large language model (LLM) that was trained on public and internal data. They then put the LLM into a Mixture of Experts (MoE) environment that ran multiple translator applications, each of which was an expert in a single language. This allowed Roblox to save resources by not having to create a separate LLM for each language. According to Sturman, given the scope of the project, it was easier for his team to create its own model than to modify an off-the-shelf LLM.

Sturman noted that Roblox monitors the chats (it does so for trust and security reasons) and can get feedback if the translation isn’t quite perfect. He added that adding AI to translate chats “doesn’t change anything about our privacy and security process, and banned words will still be blocked.”

Roblox, which has been trying to appeal to a more adult audience over the past few years, has been working with generative AI models to improve the user experience. Last year, the company released an artificial intelligence chatbot assistant for developers. It also automatically translates images, such as words on buildings, into the user’s default language.

Sturman says he hopes the translator model will eventually go beyond just translating text-based chatbots. “In the future, we may be able to use AI to translate inappropriate [banned] words into normal words, or use it in voice chats to translate speech in real time. There are a lot of possibilities,” Sturman says.

Other companies are also developing AI translator models. Meta* has released a speech-to-text and text-to-text translator called SeamlessM4T that works with nearly 100 languages. Google’s Universal Speech Model also translates nearly 100 languages and is already being used on YouTube to translate subtitles.

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