International relations

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Art crosses borders between people

The California-based architects Virginia San Fratello and Ronald Rael have transformed a stretch of the border fence between Mexico and the U.S. into an international playground. The pair installed three hot pink seesaws between the slats of the fence where Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, abuts Sunland Park, New Mexico, allowing people on both sides of the increasingly militarized border to play together.

In an Instagram post, Rael said, “The wall became a literal fulcrum for U.S.-Mexico relations, and children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side.” He added, “The joy that was shared this day on both sides is something that will stay with me forever.”

[See Ronald Rael's Instagram post here.] 

Translation helps promote trade

Steep tariffs, challenging geography and government subsidies come to mind when we think about the barriers to international trade. But there are lots of different languages in the world, and translation problems can slow things down, too.

Evidence from a new translation technology powered by artificial intelligence might be able to help clear those hurdles. In 2014, eBay mediated over $14 billion of international trade in more than 200 countries. That same year, the company introduced eBay Machine Translation, or eMT, an in-house machine learning system that translates between languages when users search or view listings on its website.

The system was about 7 percent more accurate than the previous translation service the company was using, and that led to a 17 to 20 percent increase in exports through the platform to Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America.