Artificial intelligence: The impact on translation services

Digitalization and automation are social-technological processes that have been affecting everyday life and many areas of social life for some time now. This also includes translation as a medium of transcultural communication. Machine translation in particular is attracting a great amount of attention in this context, which is why it is also worth taking a look at the influence of translation in the age of machine developments and progress. This is not only about increasing efficiency and productivity, but also raises fundamental questions about the relationship between people and technology:   

  • Is the translator technically interchangeable and replaceable?   
  • What is the human being still worth if machines can also use and translate languages?   
  • What does the advent of machine translation mean for the interaction between languages and cultures and what are the limits of machines as opposed to humans? 

Machine translation is a form of artificial intelligence designed to simplify and accelerate the internationalization of corporate communications.   

  • But to what extent does the use of artificial intelligence make sense and to what extent are human translators endangered by AI?   
  • What is behind the phenomenon that has been roaming the media landscape for a few years now?   
  • Which activities can be completely autonomously performed by machines using AI and where are the limits of the applications?   

As a high-quality translation agency, we at smylingua are always at your disposal and will answer all your questions about translation. Contact us today, we look forward to hearing from you.   

What is artificial intelligence?  

Artificial intelligence is one of the most important developments in computer science and is a kind of collective term for various applications that are designed for a very specific problem. The weak AI term describes AI as programs that are developed for specific application domains. This includes any system that performs something for which humans need intelligence. The strong AI term, on the other hand, describes AI as an application that requires the same intellectual skills as humans or exceeds them. The following visible skills are assumed:   

  • Logical thinking
  • Making decisions in cases of uncertainty
  • Planning
  • Learning
  • Communication in natural language   

and the following invisible:  

  • consciousness
  • self-knowledge/awareness
  • Sensibility

AI is also associated with a variety of fears. Especially in the professional world, AI holds the danger that some jobs will no longer be necessary for the distant future, but will be replaced by programs based on AI.  As our lives are more and more influenced by more complex algorithms, the scope of application of various AI programs is expanding in parallel. In the course of research and development, the variety and possibilities of AI are therefore constantly increasing. Do not hesitate and entrust yourself gladly to our translation agency. Book an appointment today to discuss your request.  

What does AI mean in the translation industry?  

Nowadays there are numerous tools and sites on the Internet that promise and deliver translations in seconds. All you have to do is enter the text or words, and the computer will work as if by magic, offering a translation into or from the language of your choice. The translation programs, which are almost all similar in concept, also score points in terms of speed. There is virtually no need for any maintenance. The translation appears directly on the screen. Last but not least, the translation tools usually require no fee, so that the user does not have to pay any additional costs to have something translated.  

The wealth of programs and tools developed by AI has made significant progress, especially in recent years. This therefore carries the risk that jobs in the field of translation could be lost. Machine translation services and software are now abundant and all of them are capable of delivering fast translation results. Virtual translation programs, such as   

  • Google Translate
  • Bing Translator 
  • DeepL 

Virtual translation programs thus seem to compete with human interpreters and translators. Nowadays, these machine translation programs are so well developed that they can translate entire texts, documents or websites in a wide variety of language combinations. In fact, AI is very well developed in this field and offers many features and services that give an idea and could lead to the fact that in the distant future some translation activities will only be performed by machines in an automated way.   

How does AI work in the translation industry?  

In the course of internationalisation, the need for translation is increasing and is part of everyday life. AI translation software has become indispensable in the corporate world as well as in private use. Examples include Google Assistant, which provides real-time translations, and DeepL, a program that can translate entire texts or documents.    

There are three types of machine translation systems for translation software:  

  • Rule-based system  
  • Statistical system  
  • Neural system  

The rule-based system uses grammar rules and dictionaries of the source and target language and develops a systematic translation from them. The statistical system adapts the language based on the most common words or paragraphs of existing translations. In contrast to rule-based systems, translations are not created on the basis of predefined rules, but by using large amounts of source and target language data that are entered.   

The neural systems use artificial neural networks to learn statistical models. This method is also defined as Deep Learning, since data is used to establish relationships between source and target language and sentence structures. The aim is to produce natural and fluent translations.   

Translation programs therefore learn in three different ways. Machine translation tools learn the structural grammar, syntax and morphology of a language and apply these to the translation into the target language. Another approach uses large amounts of data, which are processed with the help of an algorithm. Or the Deep Learning technology is used, which is based on an artificial neural network. Each program is based on large amounts of data, which are used as training material for continuous development and progress. Each program can only be as good as it has been trained.  The training material with which the program is “fed” determines the quality of the translation.   

Limits and possibilities of AI  

There are now many programs that can take over translation jobs and services and thus seem to compete with human translators. In the current era, translating with the help of AI is not only possible, but to a certain extent even necessary. For this reason, the question rightly arises as to whether translators are becoming unnecessary or already are.   

Although AI is constantly evolving and learning, the results are not without exception good and comparable to a human translation. Experience this for yourself and use our service at smylingua. Professional translators will take care of your requests, so you can see for yourself whether AI can keep up with us.   

Especially with regard to:

  • Idiomatics   
  • Naturalness  
  • Ambiguity   
  • Structure   

weaknesses of the AI become apparent. It is true that once the machine has learned something, it will not unlearn it so quickly, but it also does not know how to deal with new, unknown structures. For example, the machine is not able to read between the lines because it has no sense of irony and interpersonal commentary. Nor is it able to detect ambiguities, as it lacks the wealth of experience and the broad-based knowledge of the world and the subject matter that the human translator has acquired in the course of his or her career. The algorithms that underlie the programs Google Translate or DeepL, for example, always try to find meaning in the texts and create links to familiar structures – but emotions remain unaffected.   

AI vs. human translator  

Texts with simple sentence structures and understandable, unambiguous content can be translated by AI programs almost without problems, without the result showing conspicuous defects. However, technical and scientific texts that contain many narrative, poetic, subject-specific or even colloquial text passages place high demands on the AI and thus pose a great challenge that even the most sophisticated tools to date cannot meet. Technical and scientific texts are therefore still too complex for AI, so that their translation requires a professionally trained human translator. Contact us today: the smylingua team only works with professional translators who have a technical education and have demonstrated strong skills in the translation industry.   

A literal translation is not always enough. The use of and need for translations varies from case to case and varies according to the context. Compared to machine translation software, the translator acts like a composer who translates the music of one language into another – this includes, for example, all positive as well as negative connotations, idioms and cultural idiosyncrasies. In this way, every translator has his or her own style, which also makes it clear that a translator is also an artist: namely, an artist who creates a new work from a text. A robot cannot learn to add this personal touch – one’s own style and personal emotionality are aspects that cannot be taught to a machine.   

Specialization and know-how paired with AI  

See for yourself what a human translation looks like and compare it with the results of a Google translator or any other AI-based program – smylingua’s translators and interpreters all possess valuable technical expertise and complete your translation-related jobs with precision, passion and know-how.  

Human translations are not replaced by machine translations for the time being, but professional translators also make use of the services provided by AI to make their work easier.  However, human, technical expertise cannot be replaced by machine translation. The training as a translator has always required technical specialisation. A specialist translator has a profound knowledge in at least one precise subject area and has the required know-how, which he or she has acquired and developed through many years of experience and routine in his or her field. The translator is an expert in his or her particular field and thus delivers an authentic technical text translation, which requires expertise in the foreign language as well as specialist knowledge. The demands on the profession change in parallel with the developments that come with AI. In the meantime, the requirements include not only specific technical knowledge but also the handling of terminology databases, server structures, digital archives and data protection knowledge. Our translation agency smylingua also draws on the technological developments of AI and uses translation tools, but only to the extent necessary – the main task is performed by human translators, who are ahead of the machines in many respects. 

Reasons to trust smylingua 

  • Competence  
  • Expertise  
  • Professionalism  
  • Native speaker principle  
  • Emotions  

Smylingua provides you with an authentic, professional translation. Whether it is through audio transcriptions, linguistic audits or InDesign translation. For further information or if you have any questions, please contact us at contact@smylingua.com or call us on +33 176 43 32 76. 

 

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