When machine learning packs an economic punch
A new study co-authored by an MIT economist shows that improved translation software can significantly boost international trade online — a notable case of machine learning having a clear impact on economic activity. The research finds that after eBay improved its automatic translation program in 2014, commerce shot up by 10.9 percent among pairs of countries where people could use the new system. To put the results in perspective, he adds, consider that physical distance is, by itself, also a significant barrier to global commerce.
The 10.9 percent change generated by eBay’s new translation software increases trade by the same amount as “making the world 26 percent smaller, in terms of its impact on the goods that we studied,” he says.