In iOS and macOS: Apple AI turns harmless sentences into porn titles

Apple’s translator AI has a porn problem: If you type certain English sentences into the German translation field in macOS and iOS, Apple’s AI spits out pornographic pseudo-translations. The sentence “Happy dog ​​is very young 3003” becomes something like “sexy brunette in black black black is happy to be banged”.

c’t has discovered several such nonsense phrases that lead to translations in similar variations. The phenomenon only occurs when you type English sentences into a German translation field. Apple’s translator does not have a function to automatically recognize the language of typed phrases and thus rule out such errors in advance. c’t was able to reproduce the porn translations on both iOS and macOS.

c’t found out about the problem thanks to a letter from a reader who had mistakenly submitted the sentence “Mirror egg is very yummy in the tummy” to Apple’s translation tool as a German sentence. The result according to Apple’s AI: “The brunette is getting penetrated in the kitchen”.



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More from c't magazine

More from c't magazine

Apple did not respond to c’t’s queries, but immediately corrected the translation error in the sample phrase mentioned by c’t in the email to the company. However, there are still other variants of nonsense sentences that produce similar translation errors.

Automatic translation programs such as Apple’s tool use neural networks. They are trained with the largest possible data sets, for example countless websites. First, neural networks start with random parameters, which are constantly being tweaked and tweaked in the course of their training until they deliver the most meaningful results possible.

Developers check the success of such translators on sample data. However, unexpected inputs such as nonsense sentences in English can throw the AI ​​out of step. The fact that the translations thrown out sound like porn titles could be due to the data set Apple used for training: it is possible that it also included pages with pornographic content.

This is not a new problem in AI research. Many models struggle with biases that are already present in the training data. The AI ​​language model GPT-3 took away prejudices against Muslims from its training. This is usually not the intention of the researchers. But how trained neural networks work is difficult for their developers to understand.

Other AI translators also have to struggle with such problems, as another reader’s letter to heise online shows: DeepL translates the sentence “faut voir ce qui dit la dessus car le vrai HQ au sens légal est eau Lux” (according to Google: “See You what it says above because the real headquarters in the legal sense is Eau Lux”) than “most people living in the US have no idea what to do”.




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