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Poll: Where do you think the future of translators lies?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Germany
Local time: 09:19
Member (2016)
English to German
I see no logic in that Nov 4

Tom in London wrote:

They have decided that people are too expensive, so they have decided to make human beings unnecessary by trying to replicate our brain functions.

So far as translation is concerned, they have decided that it's all going to be done by artificial intelligence.

That is not because AI can do translation better but because AI can do it more cheaply, i.e without the need for humans.

That's where they are taking us.

The only question is: what are we going to do about it?

[Edited at 2019-11-04 08:46 GMT]


I see no logic in this idea. If we assume for a minute that such an overwhelmingly powerful group really existed and was able to make decisions of this kind, they would not decide to replace human translation with artificial translation. They would decide to do away with translation for good. They would simply abolish all languages except one, and this would be a kind of Orwellian newspeak.

Since that seems not to be happening, I feel safe to assume that the current trends are not the result of one single decision of some secret superpower, but of millions of micro-decisions of not-so-powerful entities.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:19
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I hope Nov 4

Kay-Viktor Stegemann wrote:

what she wrote


I hope you're right. But you can already get instant translation on your smartphone and within the foreseeable future, translation will happen invisibly and will be done by machines- so all those interpreters' boxes at the United Nations will no longer be necessary.

[Edited at 2019-11-04 11:55 GMT]


 

Katalin Szilárd  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 09:19
Member (2006)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
If this was true, they would be digging their own hole... Nov 4

Tom in London wrote:

Katalin Szilárd wrote:

I doubt that everybody within that group would be so insane.


They're insane enough to start wars....because wars make them richer.

Getting back to IT and translation: this isn't just happening by chance. Over time, decisions are taken about the kind of world we are going to live in.

In the 18th century, rich powerful people decided that machines were going to take over from manual work. There was some resistance, by workers who could see what was going to happen (the Luddites) but they were defeated (some of them were killed). That decision by the powerful led to the Industrial Revolution.

The decision has been taken that the future will be a future of information technology, robotisation, the end of work, etc. (something that is now widely discussed as what is really going to happen).

They know millions of people will no longer be required. That includes translators.


I know that part of the history well. I also heard and read about the Bilderberg group before.
But you cannot compare the past with the present and the future.
We reached a point where wars are very dangerous even for those who start them and who wants to risk his/her own life and his/her family's life?
And also you cannot compare the past with the present and future concerning the industrial revolution, because back then not almost all people lost their jobs. If we think what you are saying may be true, then almost everybody's job will be in danger not just translators'. This means there will be no country on this Earth where normal life will be bearable due to unemployment and chaos.
I doubt that those powerful people would want to live like that.


[Edited at 2019-11-04 12:20 GMT]


 

Katalin Szilárd  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 09:19
Member (2006)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Until we decide to stop them. Nov 4

Kay-Viktor Stegemann wrote:

Tom in London wrote:

They have decided that people are too expensive, so they have decided to make human beings unnecessary by trying to replicate our brain functions.

So far as translation is concerned, they have decided that it's all going to be done by artificial intelligence.

That is not because AI can do translation better but because AI can do it more cheaply, i.e without the need for humans.

That's where they are taking us.

The only question is: what are we going to do about it?

[Edited at 2019-11-04 08:46 GMT]


I see no logic in this idea. If we assume for a minute that such an overwhelmingly powerful group really existed and was able to make decisions of this kind, they would not decide to replace human translation with artificial translation. They would decide to do away with translation for good. They would simply abolish all languages except one, and this would be a kind of Orwellian newspeak.

Since that seems not to be happening, I feel safe to assume that the current trends are not the result of one single decision of some secret superpower, but of millions of micro-decisions of not-so-powerful entities.


I already mentioned this: there are some programmed hypes nowadays to "navigate" the mass (and it has some similarities with Tom in London's thoughts):

https://www.proz.com/forum/post_editing_machine_translation/336641-who_is_not_using_mt_today-page5.html#2807566

And I also think that good people have the power. I know I know: what we call good people...
But I think inside we know it...

Even if we are working as businesses (where tough rules apply sometimes), we should help each other and if we notice something that is not right, not correct, with profiles, posts, directories, emails etc. we should warn each other.


 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Germany
Local time: 09:19
Member (2016)
English to German
Oops Nov 4

Tom in London wrote:

Kay-Viktor Stegemann wrote:

what she wrote


I hope you're right. But you can already get instant translation on your smartphone and within the foreseeable future, translation will happen invisibly and will be done by machines- so all those interpreters' boxes at the United Nations will no longer be necessary.

[Edited at 2019-11-04 11:55 GMT]


Just for the record: there is no "she" in Kay-Viktor :D

Apart from that, I still think that there is nothing wrong with technical progress. Today all the small children digging for coal are no longer necessary (as they did in the 19th century), and tomorrow the interpreters in boxes might no longer be necessary. If, one day, we all have a personal universal translator at our ears and can speak to everyone else on this planet without the need of a human translator, I would call this progress. I don't believe that this will happen anytime soon, but if it does, I still have the same brain and skill and ability to learn I had before and I can do something else. Wouldn't be the first time.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:19
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Soon Nov 4

Kay-Viktor Stegemann wrote:

Apart from that, I still think that there is nothing wrong with technical progress. Today all the small children digging for coal are no longer necessary (as they did in the 19th century), and tomorrow the interpreters in boxes might no longer be necessary. If, one day, we all have a personal universal translator at our ears and can speak to everyone else on this planet without the need of a human translator, I would call this progress. I don't believe that this will happen anytime soon, but if it does, I still have the same brain and skill and ability to learn I had before and I can do something else. Wouldn't be the first time.


Sorry about the "she".

Those who don't go through the process of learning a language don't know what they're missing. Just having it translated into your own language by a machine means that you're missing a whole world you will never know anything about.


Katalin Szilárd
 

Katalin Szilárd  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 09:19
Member (2006)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Vocation Nov 4

Kay-Viktor Stegemann wrote:
I don't believe that this will happen anytime soon, but if it does, I still have the same brain and skill and ability to learn I had before and I can do something else. Wouldn't be the first time.


By the time you start another profession/job, it will be not needed either...
and you will be unemployed again... and this leads to depression and mental degradation.

Furthermore if we talk about professions (not just "jobs"), passion and vocation are very important.
Actually those 2 give the essence of quality. Not AI.


Tom in London
 

Alexandra Hirsch  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 09:19
English to German
+ ...
Languages change Nov 4

Languages change. Continuously. Perpetually. Somebody has to 'tell the machines', program the syntax, and fill the databases when new stuff comes along.

I can see computers helping each other with that. (What fun. Will they start chatting with each other in a forum like this one?) Yeah. But why haven't they learnt to code yet?

[Edited at 2019-11-04 17:00 GMT]


 

Katalin Szilárd  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 09:19
Member (2006)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Humans are born to do good things Nov 4

Alexandra Hirsch wrote:

Languages change. Continuously. Perpetually. Somebody has to 'tell the machines', program the syntax, and fill the databases when new stuff comes along.

I can see computers helping each other with that. (What fun. Will they start chatting with each other in a forum like this one?) Yeah. But why haven't they learnt to code yet?

[Edited at 2019-11-04 17:00 GMT]


Are there any humans with sound mind and soul who want to live in a world like that???
Humans are capable of so many great things.
And we should not end up filling databases...

Going back to the previous thoughts of Tom in London and Kay-Viktor Stegemann..
I don't think it is orchestrated centrally as Tom's says, but I think Kay-Viktor has right in that:
"millions of micro-decisions."
That's why it matters how we decide and how we react in certain situations.


 

Guofei_LIN  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 18:19
Chinese
The same as waiters/waitresses, maids, McDonold's staff, movers. Nov 5

People go into the profession when they cannot find something better. Serious investment in skills do not pay, so nobody is going to make that investment. We don't see people attending a 4-year college to learn how to be the best waiter in the world, do we?

Unlike the UN, 99% of the translation buyers are not long-term clients and are not savvy buyers. While they lament that they cannot find good waiters/maids/movers when they occasionally use the service, they are unwilling to pay
... See more
People go into the profession when they cannot find something better. Serious investment in skills do not pay, so nobody is going to make that investment. We don't see people attending a 4-year college to learn how to be the best waiter in the world, do we?

Unlike the UN, 99% of the translation buyers are not long-term clients and are not savvy buyers. While they lament that they cannot find good waiters/maids/movers when they occasionally use the service, they are unwilling to pay higher rates because one individual paying high rates do not guarantee that this individual will receive better service. Machine translation provides guaranteed mediocrity, and is thus more reliable and trustworthy.
Collapse


 

Katalin Szilárd  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 09:19
Member (2006)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Interest vs. proof Nov 5

Guofei_LIN wrote:

Machine translation provides guaranteed mediocrity, and is thus more reliable and trustworthy.



Do you write this because directly/indirectly you have interest in machine translation or because you have proof of that?


 

Guofei_LIN  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 18:19
Chinese
Machine translation Nov 5

Katalin Szilárd wrote:
Do you write this because directly/indirectly you have interest in machine translation or because you have proof of that?

I don't have the remotest interest in machine translation other than as a sometimes Google Translate user on those rare occasions when I happen to visit some foreign language websites.

I have been on both sides of the translation business: as a translator, and as a buyer of translation service while working for some business company. So I know that human translators are unreliable. You can pay the highest rates and ask for the best translators to come forward and they ALL come forward, claiming they are the best. You simply have no means to identify which one can provide the best quality. They all have certificates, degrees, accreditations, references. Unless you make a career out of translation service buyers, which I don't think is what your boss hires you for, your best bet is to go with machine translation and then get either someone in-house or a contractor to finalize the product, which is something you need to do anyway if quality is important.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:19
Member (2008)
Italian to English
what? Nov 5

Guofei_LIN wrote:

.... You simply have no means to identify which one can provide the best quality....


Yes you have. You can READ THEIR TRANSLATIONS.


 

Guofei_LIN  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 18:19
Chinese
No, you cannot Nov 5

Tom in London wrote:

Guofei_LIN wrote:

.... You simply have no means to identify which one can provide the best quality....


Yes you have. You can READ THEIR TRANSLATIONS.


As a translator myself, I have seen plenty of translations that sound good, except that they don't match the originals in meaning. This is especially so in legal text. I suspect that's how some bad translators got the job.

And in Netflix's case, I doubt the manager can read the dozens of languages other than English.

[Edited at 2019-11-05 11:26 GMT]


 

Katalin Szilárd  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 09:19
Member (2006)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
False world... Nov 5

Guofei_LIN wrote:

Katalin Szilárd wrote:
Do you write this because directly/indirectly you have interest in machine translation or because you have proof of that?

I don't have the remotest interest in machine translation other than as a sometimes Google Translate user on those rare occasions when I happen to visit some foreign language websites.

I have been on both sides of the translation business: as a translator, and as a buyer of translation service while working for some business company. So I know that human translators are unreliable. You can pay the highest rates and ask for the best translators to come forward and they ALL come forward, claiming they are the best. You simply have no means to identify which one can provide the best quality. They all have certificates, degrees, accreditations, references. Unless you make a career out of translation service buyers, which I don't think is what your boss hires you for, your best bet is to go with machine translation and then get either someone in-house or a contractor to finalize the product, which is something you need to do anyway if quality is important.


And what do you think who created those machine translations? Who put the data in them?
Yes, human translators. So why a machine would be more reliable than human translators?
Machine has no human logic and professional calling either.

Clients and end-clients have the ability to "sniff" professional and reliable human translators.
The question is whether greediness will lead them to a "false machine world" or they will be smart enough to understand that excellence lies in professional calling (for example reviewing the translation more times, or when there is not enough context information then you make a phone call or you ask for further images concerning a new device to be able to give the best and most accurate translation for a part of the device etc.). When will a machine do this? Never.

[Edited at 2019-11-05 11:35 GMT]


 
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