The company’s executive president, Vasco Pedro, told Lusa that Lavie left Amazon, where he headed the Machine Translation Group, to create a new artificial intelligence team for Portuguese technology, which offers a machine translation solution with human editors and has Pinterest, Change.org, Skyscanner and Weebly among its clients.
The location of the new office in Pennsylvania aims to leverage the relationship between Unbabel and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), where Lavie is a researcher at the Institute of Language Technology.
Vasco Pedro mentioned that Lavie is one of the world’s specialists in machine translation and was his professor at CMU.
Unbabel is recruiting for the office and has two full-time vacancies in Pittsburgh, one for senior research engineer and another for a senior research scientist.
Pedro said that what Unbabel has done so far is still very much the beginning of what it wants to do and the laboratory will help explore more ambitious future scenarios.
“We want to have a conversation one day and for the language, one or the other is speaking to be irrelevant,” he said.
With a new internal platform for preparing client companies, Unbabel is also testing systems for the future.
“One of the things we are starting to work on now includes the concept of voice morphing,” he said, speaking of a system that translates speech into another language but using the voice of the original speaker.
Unbabel offers translation in 28 languages with several possible pairs, for example, Portuguese-English or English-German, where an automated system performs the initial translation and then human translators edit and validate the quality of the texts.
The integration between artificial intelligence and human beings is one of the focuses of the executive, who believes in the potential of this interaction to improve activities and processes.