Blog article: What is the Future of Translation in the Translation of the Future?
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:33
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
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Mar 21, 2011

Full article: http://patenttranslator.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/what-is-the-future-of-translation-in-the-translation-of-the-future/

Excerpt:
"For example, when you receive a birthday card in the mail, it often has a chip that sings “Happy Birthday” to you. Remarkably, that chip has more computer power than all the Allied forces of 1945. Hitler, Churchill, or Roosevelt might have killed to get that chip. But what do we do with it? After the birthday, we throw the card and chip away. Today, your cell phone has more computer power than all of NASA back in 1969, when it placed two astronauts on the moon. Video games, which consume enormous amounts of computer power to simulate 3-D situations, use more computer power than mainframe computers of the previous decade. The Sony PlayStation of today, which costs $300, has the power of a military supercomputer of 1997, which cost millions of dollars.

An excerpt from Michio Kaku’s new book, “The Physics of the Future.”

Although human translation and human translators have been with us for a very long time, just about every time when I talk to non-translators about my profession, they ask me how long will it be before my work is done by computers. When I tell them that this will never happen, they mostly don’t believe me..."


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:33
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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Yes and no Mar 21, 2011

Jeff Whittaker wrote:
1. "Remarkably, that chip has more computer power than all the Allied forces of 1945. Hitler, Churchill, or Roosevelt might have killed to get that chip."
2. "The Sony PlayStation of today, which costs $300, has the power of a military supercomputer of 1997, which cost millions of dollars."


If power is measured in bytes or mips, then yes. But it is misleading to say that $300 can today buy what millions of dollars bought in 1997.

An analogy: Which army is stronger -- one with twice as many men or one whose men can lift twice as many weights? Both are equally "strong", if measured in terms of how much they can lift, but that is a silly way to measure the strength of an army. The same principle applies to measuring computer power.


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iqcservices  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 14:33
Member (2008)
French to Dutch
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It doesn't have to end all in blood and tears Dec 13, 2011

Allow me to quote a part of a really interesting and good article I found on the subject of translation (http://www.translationautomation.com/perspectives/how-do-scientists-see-the-immediate-future-of-translation-automation.html):
"The general feeling among researchers is that translators will continue to play a central role in production of the high quality translation well into the future. They will also inevitably contribute to the fine-tuning and repairing of MT output as post-editors through the feedback loops that are vital to optimizing MT systems. The gradual build up of postedited texts will then turn into a huge body of potentially decisive training data for MT systems.
There will naturally be more research into ways in which this symbiotic relationship can be optimized within the various types of workflows, with improved toolsets for post-editors. But it seems unlikely that there will be anything more than incremental advances in performance for the industry as a whole. We can expect forward-looking technical translators to adopt new power tools emerging from such research to stay competitive."


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 21:33
Chinese to English
This debate may be being twisted by the word "translation" Dec 13, 2011

I wonder if it would help to try to talk not about "translation", but about two separate tasks: 1) getting some information from a text in a foreign language; 2) converting a text in one language into another language.

At the moment, these two tasks tend to happen together. You need to do (2) before you can do (1). But that may change. With machine text processing (to avoid the knotty issue of calling it machine translation), you can take a text in Spanish, and if you know what you're looking for, you can probably extract some facts about it by looking at what English words the computer throws up.

I seriously doubt that computers will be doing (2) within a very long timeframe. As the Kaku book notes, we have awesome amounts of computing power. Computers can calculate about a zillion times faster than people. But that hasn't allowed them to produce decent human language. And I don't see any reason to expect changes in that situation.

But that might mean that translators in future are only called on to do (2)-type jobs, and are not used for (1)-type jobs. This is a worry in itself.


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iqcservices  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 14:33
Member (2008)
French to Dutch
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A bit too optimistic regarding human translation ... Dec 13, 2011

It is possible, Phil Hand, that your post is a bit too optimistic about human translation. If one observes the progresses that are made by MT (for instance Google Translate) the last couple of years, then you can't help thinking that it is pretty impressive. I am the first to acknowledge though that it can't replace human translation yet, not by a long shot. But in a couple of cases and for some language pairs, the gap is closing.

Yet, I do think that human high quality translation will continue to play a central role for decades to come. That doesn't mean though that at a certain point in time, the human effort in translation won't become much less important. The computer may not be intelligent, even more so, may perhaps never become "intelligent" in our human eyes, but that doesn't mean it can't take over more and more of the human intelligent effort. A perfect example of this is the game of chess. Now, one can safely state that the most powerful computer, equipped with the strongest chess programs, can beat even the strongest human players.

Of course, translation is even more complex and more versatile than chess. But the example of machine chess play is a very strong example of what artificial "intelligence" is capable of and may give an indication for the human translation also, at least in the long run.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 21:33
Chinese to English
Example, please Dec 13, 2011

I'm adopting a policy of asking for examples every time someone tells me how great GT is. Last time Michael Beijer gave an example of Dutch>English from GT, and I personally thought it was blither.

ICQ - will you demonstrate how good GT is? Put up a fairly simple text (maybe something from your own work?), and the GT translation, and tell us how that helped your work? Because I remain unconvinced. I know GT is rubbish for my pair, but the enthusiasts do say it's good for "some languages". Let's see it, please.


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iqcservices  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 14:33
Member (2008)
French to Dutch
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Sure Dec 13, 2011

Phil Hand wrote:

I'm adopting a policy of asking for examples every time someone tells me how great GT is. Last time Michael Beijer gave an example of Dutch>English from GT, and I personally thought it was blither.

ICQ - will you demonstrate how good GT is? Put up a fairly simple text (maybe something from your own work?), and the GT translation, and tell us how that helped your work? Because I remain unconvinced. I know GT is rubbish for my pair, but the enthusiasts do say it's good for "some languages". Let's see it, please.


Sure, Phil Hand, I could give plenty of examples. But first of all: don't make me say things I didn't say. I never affirmed that GT is great. Just that its progress over the last couple of years is.
Here is an example, (not from my work because of Agreements of Non Disclosure). I have several language pairs, but since my target language is Dutch (or Flemish), I am afraid the examples won't make that much sense to you. Anyways, here we go. I take an example for the English-Dutch pair. As source text, I take a couple of sentences in my previous post:

"Of course, translation is even more complex and more versatile than chess. But the example of machine chess play is a very strong example of what artificial "intelligence" is capable of and may give an indication for the human translation also, at least in the long run."

Here is the result from GT:

"Natuurlijk, de vertaling is nog complexer en veelzijdiger dan schaken. Maar het voorbeeld van de machine schaken is een zeer sterk voorbeeld van wat kunstmatige 'intelligentie' is in staat en kan een indicatie geven voor de menselijke vertaling ook, althans op de lange termijn."

Now, that is a pretty good result. After proofreading myself, I would agree with the following translation:
"Natuurlijk is vertaling nog complexer en veelzijdiger dan schaken. Maar het voorbeeld van computerschaak is een zeer sterk voorbeeld van waartoe kunstmatige 'intelligentie' in staat is en kan ook voor de menselijke vertaling een indicatie geven, althans op de lange termijn."

As you easily can see, that only required some intervenience by me. So, GT clearly gave me more than an indication of the meaning, it also provided a very good basis for the final translation.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 21:33
Chinese to English
Thank you! Dec 13, 2011

You're right, I can't even begin to get to grips with that example (Dutch is weird!), but I can see that you haven't had to change much. It's all useful input to my understanding of the technology.

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Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:33
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Not good enough Dec 13, 2011

"Of course, translation is even more complex and more versatile than chess. But the example of machine chess play is a very strong example of what artificial "intelligence" is capable of and may give an indication for the human translation also, at least in the long run."

Norwegian>English
"Of course, translation is even more complex and more versatile than chess. But as the computer's chess game is a very strong example of what artificial" intelligence "is able and can give an indication of human translation as well, at least in the long run . "

German>English
"Of course the translation is even more complex and versatile than chess. But the example of the machine to play chess a very strong example of what is artificial" intelligence "in the situation and may be a reference to human translation also give, at least in the long point of view. "

French>English
"Of course, the translation is even more complex and more versatile than the failures. But the example of machine to play chess is a strong example of this artificial" intelligence "can and can give an indication of human translation also, at least in the long term. "

Italian>English
"Of course, the translation is even more complex and more versatile than chess. But the example of chess machine is an example of what strong artificial" intelligence "is capable of and may give an indication for human translation also, at least in the long run. "


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