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Could AI be doing your translations for you?
20.04.18

Predicting the future has never been easy; who knew that today we would spend nearly 2hrs every day online on our smartphones*, that robots would exist in our homes, or that even the most mundane problems could be solved with an app?!

There’s no doubt that technological firsts and innovative new breakthroughs are gearing up – our world is changing at an astonishing rate, and Artificial Intelligence is the current hot topic that’s causing quite a stir…

AI and Translation

Translation in the world of robotics is one such area has come a long way in recent years. What can be achieved now compared to just a few years ago is nothing short of revolutionary. And the improvements just keep on coming.

AI, it’s said, is now capable of achieving the following:

  • Speech recognition
  • Speech synthesis
  • Natural language generation
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Natural language understanding

And much more besides.

But to what degree and in what context? Different industries have their own set of specific linguistic requirements that need to be considered; for architects and those in manufacturing, technical translation is paramount, as is an awareness of niche terminology. For those dealing with legal translations, ambiguity in tone or terminology can spell disaster. Where marketing is concerned, an inability to understand idiomatic phrases, sarcasm, humour and irony could be the downfall of an entire campaign.

So, can translation through AI be enough to meet the growing communication requirements of businesses today?

A genuine solution for real business?

For all the excitement around this new technology, shortfalls still remain.

To take care of translation for a business, there needs to be a certainty that AI can deal with real world contextual knowledge, overcome complex nuances, and also have some ability to understand and predict the behaviours and expectations of readers from other cultures and backgrounds.

Then there’s the case of how AI achieves these capabilities; most of these systems work by using large quantities of already translated text…text originally translated by a human. Not to mention some of the estimated 7,000 languages that currently exist in the world that need to be translated for machines, or those historical languages that might never be.

The truth is, AI has its limits, and until these are overcome it will always fall to professional translators to complete the job in full.

Can human translators be replaced by AI in the business world? Perhaps not.
But the possibilities for collaboration between skilled linguistic experts and the very best in artificial intelligence certainly make for some exciting and innovative years ahead.

Are you looking for ways to overcome complex business communications with foreign customers and overseas clients? Then talk to us at Sally Walker Language Services about how we can help with your businesses translation requirements.

* https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/latest/media/media-releases/2015/cmr-uk-2015