AI, is it your friend, tool, or replacement?
As the use of AI in all businesses and the translation industry specifically becomes more prevalent with the huge advancements in the field, lots of professionals are wary about the expanded use of artificial intelligence in the translation industry, while some welcome it as an opportunity to increase both profits and productivity, others see it as a replacement that will make them obsolete.
The question was posed during the AUC/SCE first conference on Localization, Translation and Interpreting held on the 15th and 16th of April 2019, and while most professionals did agree that the use of AI in the translation and localization industry is unavoidable and has to be embraced, they had different approaches to it.
Ms. Claudia Mirza the CEO and co-founder of Akorbi, tried to put emphasis on the idea that AI is your friend, that the shift in the technology and the field is similar to the shift from horses to cars when Henry Ford started the first automotive assembly line, the horse carriage drivers had to adapt and learn how to drive cars, otherwise they would go out of business if they stuck to their old habits and resisted change, that the rise of automotive industry gave birth to a multitude of logistic support industries, for everything from mechanic shops, tire shops, fuel stations giving rise to the petroleum industry and so on, and with the increase in demand for faster turnaround times for larger volumes of localization work, the focus on machine translations and post editing is one of the fastest growing and needed global trends, so we either learn to adjust and embrace the change, or get left behind.
Mr. Daniel Zielinski, the lecturer and researcher in Applied linguistics and Language Technology Mains University, Germany , and the founder and managing director of Locotomize GmbH had a different opinion to that of Claudia’s, as while he agrees on the importance of the use of the technology, he emphasized that AI and machine translations are not your friend, they are simply put just a tool that you have to use for your advantage, it increases the efficiency of work and reduces the effort needed to conduct it on different levels, and that the use of the term AI can be misleading, the current existing technology and even the one being developed for the foreseeable future is not artificial intelligence in the classic sense in our perception, it’s simply put; data analysis and algorithms that produces an output through these operations, which still require the human element to varying degrees, and while the use of machine translations can be hugely beneficial in localization work, legal translations and so on with post editing, creative work like media and advertising translations still require mostly human work.
Both speakers and most of the professionals in the field no matter what their approach is agree, the AI is here to stay, the use of machine translations and CAT tools is getting more and more essential by the day, major multinational corporations are shifting to specifically requesting it with post editing to save themselves time and money, be able to localize massive amounts of contents in a short time window, and as professionals in the industry, the change is unavoidable, we either become the change, or remain horse carriage drivers in a world with no horses.