Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have affected many industries by making processes automated. Certain professions in these affected industries are no longer needed. The reason is that such jobs were monotonous and unnecessary and could easily be replaced by automation.
The translation industry faces similar challenges. As machine learning algorithms are developed rapidly, it has become easier to automate the translation process. Will translators disappear? We have made a list of changes that are likely to happen in the translation industry over the next ten years.
What is machine learning?
When we started to develop computers, it was hard to imagine that they could learn or develop without human intervention. But now, machine learning can do that. Machine learning is a computer science branch that involves programming a machine to learn from its own experience.
With machine learning algorithms, computers can identify patterns, errors, and trends. The personalized email and cell phone keypad are some of the most common machine learning applications in the world today. Have you ever noticed that your keyboard gives you more accurate suggestions over time? Machine learning does this.
Artificial intelligence: what is it?
With machine learning the computers learn from their experience, artificial intelligence (AI) helps them model our behavior. AI works with deep learning, which is something more complex. Deep learning mimics the way our brains work and allows computers to analyze situations based on data. That is why the AI is so powerful.
It may have sounded like science fiction at first, but AI has been part of our world for quite some time. The first invention of AI, a program designed to mimic human problem-solving skills, was created in 1956 by John McCarthy and called the Logic Theorist.
What is deep learning?
For this reason, modern translations are more accurate. While machine learning is a great way to automate conversions, there is more advanced: deep learning.
Deep learning, as we said, simulates human behavior. There are neural networks in the structure of deep learning, just as there are in our brains. In this way, computers can detect their errors and automatically correct them. Deep learning allows machines to think logically and draw conclusions. It is necessary to mention deep learning in the translation industry to understand AI's impact in this field. Let's take a look.
The artificial intelligence and machine learning impact on the translation sector
Artificial intelligence and machine learning have been changing the translation industry for a long time. You probably already use AI-assisted translations. If you've ever used Facebook automatic translations in posts or browsed international websites and used Google automatic translation, you've already used translations done by AI.
The worst is ahead. Microsoft has developed software that translates speech and images in addition to the texts. It's something we couldn't have imagined before. While this app is still not perfect, it can make a revolution in the translations.
Interestingly, this app also uses context for a more accurate translation. Machine learning also plays a huge role. Microsoft's translation app has a user feedback feature that allows users to rate translations. Thus, the software increases its accuracy and reliability.
How can deep learning change the translation sector?
Machine learning translation has always had some problems, resulting in poor translations, grammatical errors, and incorrect sentence structure. This is usually because machine learning doesn't always take context into account, but deep learning can do that.
In 2015, the translation industry underwent sweeping changes that greatly improved automated translations. The new process, called Neural Machine Translation, has replaced statistical machine translation. Nevertheless, it was still not perfect.
However, Facebook collaborated with several universities, such as the Sorbonne University and the University of the Basque Country, to create a translation system based on artificial intelligence. This system solves many of the problems of machine learning translation and no longer needs to compare data in different languages.
Will artificial intelligence and machine learning replace translators?
Artificial Intelligence is shaking up the translation industry's world, and some translators fear they might lose their jobs. Is this true? Ofer Shoshan, CEO of One Hour Translation, told Bernard Marr in a Forbes article that an automated translation will replace 50 percent of the work done by human translators. In the same article, Shoshan noted a significant improvement in neural machine translations:
"Two years ago, translation technology produced a text that, at best, provided a general idea of what the text was about, but in most cases, the professional translators said they preferred to translate from scratch because they couldn't understand much of the resulting text. Today with neural machines, with an increasing amount of material and categories, translators only need to make some changes to the machine work to have a translation with a human quality."
Will these changes create new opportunities for translators?
Human translators did about 80 percent of the translation work in the past. Machine translators did the remaining 20 percent. Today these numbers are changing dramatically. So yes, you could say that AI is replacing humans in a sense. However, it can also lead to job creation.
Translation agencies won't need as many translators for their traditional functions. Still, as businesses optimize workloads, they can also hire more translators to increase productivity. There is also the possibility that more software development jobs will be created in the translation industry.
So what is the conclusion?
Artificial Intelligence translation still has limitations, and human translators are still needed in the machine translation process. Nevertheless, the improvement in neural machine translation is undeniable compared to previous machine learning translation applications.
Because of these breakthroughs, the translation industry and translators' role will continually change as technology advances. It is fair to say that this industry is not standing still. Hopefully, this will lead to further improvement in intercultural communication.
At iText, our qualified translators are well-versed in the industry's technological advances and the cultural and linguistic context of the respective language combinations. Whether you need to translate your materials into a European language such as German, an Asian language such as Chinese, or any other language, iText will find the right translator for you. Contact us for more information or quotes.