Artificial Intelligence takes over the world. Augmented reality takes over people’s professional and private lives and neural machine translation takes control over the translation & localization industry. People lose their jobs to machines.
It all sounds like an extract from the sci-fi books by Philip K. Dick or Stanislaw Lem. And being a sci-fi books fan, I still believe that with regards to personal and professional life, it is important to always have the facts straight. After all, we don’t want to panic, do we? So, let’s look at the facts and fiction regarding the future of the translation industry and its place in what other industries do.
AI tools affect us all. Whether you work in translation project management, in business development, marketing management or business operations, the tools impact your work on a daily basis.
But will you lose your jobs because of AI?
I use marketing automation in my everyday work, and I am grateful for it, for thanks to having important parts of my jobs automated, I can focus on research, actual communication with potential clients out there and the very creative part of my job, for example authoring content. I simply have time to do it all without the stress of failing due to too many tasks.
Of course, neural machine translation tools affect your production, project management and vendor management teams. It does affect linguists. And despite some of them are talking about losing their jobs, it’s actually not true. Because if anything, they are able to be more productive and more creative in their own ways. All this results in clients being content with the results, more projects get sent your way and instead of your company falling apart, it becomes more productive and grows immensely. Is that what some call the negative impact of AI on the translation & localization industry? As Donald A. DePalma of CSA Research said in his article – AI "does not replace the language professionals, but instead gives them the tools and resources to deliver their best value and quality.” The key is to adapt, to see your role from a bit different angle and not to play against the trend.
Do you still feel like your job is in jeopardy because of AI development?
Is there any possibility that the machines will ever be able to provide better translations than humans? Language is a living system; it changes, adapts and develops continuously. The only ones that are able to keep up with language are the actual users of it - people. In this sense, linguists have the actual power to influence the process from the beginning to the end. Their expertise and knowledge of the language are essential for the machine translation to work, learn and produce usable output – that has never and will never change. Being in the center of the whole process, the linguists will never be overthrown. The power is theirs. Their role will change, yes. Just like some other aspects of the language industry as we know it (e.g. lights-out project management, but it’s a story for another post). Assuming you have the right language translation partner by your side, you have the power, too.
You create marketing strategies, plan their execution, write your marketing content and you want to address the right markets in the right way. This means the right language.
At the moment, if you have a reliable marketing translation or transcreation partner, you are covered. And if you consider ending this relationship because the machines will do it all for you – please, don’t do it. At least for the moment, machines do what and how people tell them to do. Your content will be handled by a neural machine translation tool, statistical MT engine or a hybrid tool – the process will be automated. The project manager will use automation tools to make sure your projects are delivered on spec, on time and on budget. This is a given. But at no point will your project be left unsupervised. Sorry, no auto-pilot, at least in the foreseeable future. Regardless of how efficient and modern AI tools are, the human touch is necessary to ensure the value and quality that you require. You don’t need to lose sleep over it.
There is a lot of confusion when it comes to the subject of Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality and Augmented Translation. One thing is not confusing, though. An outstanding translation is a mix of machines’ work and irreplaceable human expertise.