Artificial Intelligence – Blessing for the translation industry?

AI technologies are changing many industries dramatically. The possible areas of application are diverse and already surpass the boldest fantasies. The translation industry is also being heavily disrupted by these developments. Companies in the industry, regardless of size or professional orientation, have to deal with the phenomenon of AI sooner or later.

Applied AI – versatile as never before

Applied or narrow artificial intelligence ( AI) has experienced a real boom in recent years: The computer is supposed to copy intelligent, human behavior – and even surpass it in many tasks.

The generic term AI comprises several defined sub-areas, including neural networks, machine learning, deep learning and natural language processing (NLP). Advances in these areas mean that applied AI is increasingly able to draw on heterogeneous data sources and gain insights from them. On this basis, AI can make differentiated decisions and "learn". AI models can be trained very flexibly for different tasks.

Überblick über KI-Anwendungsgebiete

Overview of AI application areas (Source: International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board 2022)

In particular, language models for natural language understanding and text generation have become so advanced that human-machine interactions are possible without any problems. Only recently, the ChatGPT chatbot developed by OpenAI amazes users worldwide . From a process point of view, quality assurance, project monitoring or even strategic planning will soon be increasingly permeated by AI. Among other things, the focus is on intelligent data analysis and decision support systems.

AI in translation

AI can also help in translation: Neural machine translation, based on neural networks, is now used by many companies. Translation engines can be trained on customer data to maintain individual corporate language and style during translation. And all this quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively. But can machine translation replace human translators?

Curse or blessing?

The result of neural machine translation is impressive! However, there can be no question of a full-fledged replacement. Especially in areas where exact language plays an important role, for example in specialist communication, at least human post-editing is indispensable. The problems of data protection with generically trained engines and the partial lack of transparency of self-learning algorithms are also not to be ignored. Compliance with legal data protection guidelines and dealing with liability issues are probably the first steps in the right direction. Even more important, however, is a strong awareness of the responsibility that people have to assume by using such a powerful tool as AI.

Human beings are still irreplaceable as stimulators and control bodies – the interaction between human beings and machines is crucial.
As Emmanuel Macron said in an interview with the American magazine wired back in 2018 :

"AI will change many different business models, it’s the next technological revolution. If we want to defend our own path, our society and our culture, then we must be an active part of the AI revolution. Since we do not want to block innovation, it is better to shape it right from the start within ethical and philosophical boundaries. AI can endanger democracy. Algorithms that make decisions should therefore be open and transparent so that we can understand their approach and be sure that they are trustworthy."

(Translation: it-zoom.de)

Wait and see?

While visionary AI solutions are still in their infancy, some applications are already mature enough to make sense in the translation process. These include predictive algorithms in authoring systems, plug-ins for machine translation or CAT tools for improving consistency and quality. In addition, AI can support intelligent fully automated workflows in project management or help with data evaluation in analytics modules.

If your company does not want to miss the connection, it should evaluate these developments and incorporate them into its own system landscape.

We at blc have many years of experience with the use of AI in translation. It is an exciting and promising terrain for which we can provide individual analysis and implementation plans.

Contact us!

Cover photo source: Unsplash

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