Should machine translation software go open source

There is an ongoing debate on whether AI software should go open source or not (for example Bostrom’s paper Strategic Implications of Openness in AI Development). Now our current concern is of whether MT software should go open source or not. Prima facie, for safety reasons, it would be better to render public MT code, thus allowing anyone to check the code and find eventual errors, … Such openness would notably be a defense against the AI control problem , in short, the fact that superintelligence could harm humans. From this standpoint, it seems that publicness of code is much better than privateness. Regarding rule-based translation (the distinction between statistical and rule-based MT is not as clear-cut as one could think at first glance, since some rules could be applied on a statistical basis), it would allow people to check step-by-step the resulting translation.

Illustration from pixabay.com

Another advantage or publishing the code would be to allow anyone to improve it and extend its capabilities, notably by adding new modules targeted at new languages (human languages’ count being around 7000).

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