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Poll: How concerned are you about losing your job to translation software in the future?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 03:41
SITE STAFF
Jul 27, 2016

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How concerned are you about losing your job to translation software in the future?".

This poll was originally submitted by Cenk Haznacı. View the poll results »



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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:41
Spanish to English
+ ...
LOL Jul 27, 2016

In fact, ROFL!

This sad sack punter got one offer... http://www.proz.com/translation-jobs/1194670

[Edited at 2016-07-27 16:13 GMT]


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 11:41
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Not concerned at all Jul 27, 2016

At my age, I'm not concerned at all...

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Katrin Bosse  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:41
Member (2009)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Not at all - duh! Jul 27, 2016

I studied at the University of Mainz, Germany. In 2002, a new professor was appointed to our institute and his introductory speech to us students was basically that we, the future batch of translators would, upon our release into the world, be competing with highly developed ai systems and machine translation technology that would not only pose a severe threat to our livelihood but, within a span of between five to ten years, make us redundant altogether.
We were all quite taken aback by his claim and kept wondering what he could possibly have seen in being appointed to a dying branch within the linguistic field...

Fast-forward 14 years.

Not only had this professor ridiculously miscalculated the development of the ai technology, my experience in the field has convinced me time and again that there will always be work for me.

It's a very satisfactory feeling.


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:41
Member
Italian to English
Not "losing", but... Jul 27, 2016

I'm not concerned about "losing" my job to translation software, as I believe there will always be a need for human translators.

What I AM concerned about are some of the effects machine- and machine-assisted translation are having on the industry. CAT tools popping up on the market like mushrooms - good on one hand as it gives us more choice, bad in that many agencies have their own and want us to use them. The abundance of misconceptions as to what human translation is thanks to tools such as Google Translate - unrealistic deadlines, unwillingness to pay professional rates - and the need to clean up the aftermath of GT disasters.

Of course we are all free to set our own rates, and accept or refuse jobs as we see fit. But I think that ignoring the implications of translation software on our profession is dangerous at best.


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:41
Russian to English
+ ...
Not concerned at all. Jul 27, 2016

Software or some MT programs will never replace human translation, in the more serious fields, such as legal, medical, literary, especially but not only. No, it won't go far past the infant stage, plus I do other things too, related to writing, and partially teaching, not much but still. But no, even if I were just to work as a translator, I would not be concerned in the least. Our aim as translators is to make the world aware how inaccurate MT is, and that it is not meant to be used for any serious traanslation,
or professional translation.

[Edited at 2016-07-27 09:35 GMT]


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CI_translation  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 19:41
Partial member (2013)
English to Japanese
+ ...
neutral Jul 27, 2016

You can go to space, deep sea, desert or anywhere of course.

The thing is that even if we can, no one thought of how to monetize the task and nothing is likely to come free. Technology can already surpass us in terms of capability but that does not mean we like to use it every day for business or they come for affordable labor or price. You can automate chores, but less people actually do it. It is more cumbersome to try and error, error again and fix again, than when you are simply doing it yourself.

Compared to humans, standalone machine is incredibly expensive, and come as beta software - plenty of unknown bugs for you to face.
They are vulnerable to attack if saved in cloud service, increasing exposure to many.
To top it all, no one wants to take the responsibility in the face of unfortunate event and possible disaster (from unwanted formatting, wrong translation to information leak that may result in serious situation).

Machine can eradicate us if they want to, and if the have the fund to do so,
but not likely in terms of confidentiality and again, labour profit-loss.

Lawyers, doctors (physician and surgeon) are said to be likely first victims of replacement with this regard, but I think the change won't happen very fast for above reasons. Automation is really cumbersome.

[2016-07-27 10:05 GMTに編集されました]


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Cecilia Civetta  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:41
Member (2003)
Italian to Spanish
+ ...
Exactly my thought! Jul 27, 2016

Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:

I'm not concerned about "losing" my job to translation software, as I believe there will always be a need for human translators.

What I AM concerned about are some of the effects machine- and machine-assisted translation are having on the industry. CAT tools popping up on the market like mushrooms - good on one hand as it gives us more choice, bad in that many agencies have their own and want us to use them. The abundance of misconceptions as to what human translation is thanks to tools such as Google Translate - unrealistic deadlines, unwillingness to pay professional rates - and the need to clean up the aftermath of GT disasters.

Of course we are all free to set our own rates, and accept or refuse jobs as we see fit. But I think that ignoring the implications of translation software on our profession is dangerous at best.


I totally agree.


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cloudhunter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:41
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
Not at all Jul 27, 2016

First of all, I am going to study again and start in a totally different field. I just needed a few more years to figure this out. So basically what I need is only a few more years.

But!

I don't think something like a dawn of translators will happen any time soon. Machine translations cannot equal with a real human. My last example - I was asked to proofread a "translation", which turned out to be an edited google or other MT. Needless to say I had to re-write the whole thing. Google is nice if you want to understand the menu in a restaurant when on holiday but it will never be able to build the flair into the texts.


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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:41
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
Brexit Jul 27, 2016

Quite frankly, I'm more worried about Brexit impacting my income, given my language pair and specialist subjects like tourism.

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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:41
Member (2006)
German to English
Not at all Jul 27, 2016

And to be perfectly honest, I cannot imagine this happening for a long time to come.
I have been offered "post-editing" tasks in the past and turned them down considering that I would have to do everything from scratch again because there was no alternative.


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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:41
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Exactly Jul 27, 2016

Teresa Borges wrote:

At my age, I'm not concerned at all...


If this is a problem, it won't be OUR problem...


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 12:41
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Another 'too old to care' - except that I'm not Jul 27, 2016

Old translators don't die, they move into the Tower of Babel.

While I am reckoning I will have retired before the threat gets much worse, I know the world I hope to go on living in will still be very dependent on translation, and it will affect me.

Translation software is a tool, and in the right hands, correctly calibrated, it will certainly have its uses in some parts of the market. The question really is how to attract and train the right people to use it, program it, and post-edit the results it turns out.

The job may change, but human translators will still be the best solution in other parts of the market for many generations, I believe. The challenge is to educate clients and insist on the CATs and other software being user friendly, so that they are an advantage for the translator as well as the agency or the client.

I wish my younger colleagues every success!


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:41
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Disappointed Jul 27, 2016

I expected that by now ALL bottom-feeding translation outsourcers should be using free, online, immediate Google Translate, so that there would be NO translation job offers below, say, US 6¢/word, and NOBODY willing to accept such offers anywhere.

Considering the human translation jobs (hence not PEMT) I've been assigned to fix/salvage/redo at my full translation rate, which were originally done for 5¢/word or less, I can say that though the nature of the flaws is different, 5¢/word is the break-even point where the overall quality of human translation is equivalent to Google Translate's.

So it's taking longer than I expected for software to wipe out incompetent translators from the marketplace. The level of service they offer - no matter how cheaply they accept to be compensated - can be easily replaced with machine translation.

My take is that these bottom-feeding outsourcers need someone to BLAME, as they can't blame FREE software-based services for the shortcomings found in what they sell.


Regarding CAT tools, I always wonder why ALL of them are so glitchy, including the most expensive ones. What would happen if banking software performed as erratically as the most revered CAT tools in the marketplace?


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svenfrade  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:41
French to German
+ ...
Not concerned at all Jul 27, 2016

I don't believe that MT will ever be able to come anywhere close to producing an even acceptable translation.
Still, I'm seriously considering some other options apart from translation but that's for entirely different reasons.


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