Google glass-inspired specs can translate foreign languages as they are spoken

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 06:29
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
The fast-food business of translation Jul 28, 2012

Things like this seem to support the myth that almost anyone can translate, even a chip in a pair of glasses, like an advanced hearing aid.

So is this thing going to put us out of business?
No more than frozen ready-meals and pizza bars put real cooks out of business. Most people can find and serve delicious food at home, and many people can translate the basics.

This gadget will work fine for general conversation of the kind that is carried on day after day, just as you can find excellent freshly baked pizzas (or felafels, burgers, whatever...) and frozen ready meals at your local shopping centre.

But all the work has been done in advance. All the vegetables are chopped, the cheese grated, the dough kneaded and proved. Your freshly baked pizza simply has to be assembled and popped in the oven. Twenty minutes, our pizza man always says...

In some restaurants a soup or starter is served while the main course is prepared to order. The soup appears instantly, but may have been lovingly, slowly prepared - the great thing about restaurants is that they have time to concentrate on the food and leave the stock simmering on the hob for hours as my mother used to do. An instant soup will warm you and stave off hunger, but cannot compete with the flavour and the subtlety of just the right seasoning and a few fresh vegetables added at the last minute.

Restaurants can make those special recipes that others do not have time to make at home. They can serve a single portion of dishes that never really succeed unless you make enough for twenty - because in a single evening they get more than twenty guests.

They have the big utensils and the spices and herbs, and above all, the expertise.

The same with 'real time' translators. All the standard phrases - nice/horrible weather, how are the kids? Did you have fun in the park? How was your day at work/school/office? ... are in the database already.

A human interpreter has prepared the subject matter, checked on the background and trained for years to be able to provide a reliable service in real time. That is certainly not something 'anyone can do'.

Professional translators may have to concentrate on the specialist work and accept that the 'bread and butter' is taken over by machines. But we need to educate the public and make sure our clients appreciate the difference.

They will also have to appreciate that just as there is factory-made sliced bread in plastic bags, or there is baker's bread, that the product from machine translation and real-time gadgets will be mass produced and 'factory made'. It may be perfectly adequate on many occasions, but it is no substitute for planning, allowing time and taking account of cultural differences and unique situations.

We're in the communications business, so we will have to communicate this to clients. Then they will know what we do and when they need us, and when they can get away with the instant solution.


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:29
Russian to English
+ ...
This is just some hoax Jul 28, 2012

Don't worry too much about it Christine. Machine translation programs cannot even translate simple phrases, not to mention anything more complex. It is not their fault -- this isn't just physically possible. Even the voice activated programs in one language when you call some places can drive you nuts, not to mention any voice interpreting by machines.

 

Omar Lobao  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 06:29
Member (2009)
Italian to Portuguese
+ ...
Nothing to add... Jul 29, 2012

I think it's just like you said Christine...

For the next years there's no reason to be afraid of MT. It's a tool, just a tool, that can help Humans in BASIC NEEDS.

But in a longer future?? I think that will be possible to MT make translations like humans. I think that will be possible that computers do everything that humans do.
But... if computers will do everything that we can do... there's no more reason that humans still exist:))!! All of we have to be afraid... not just translators:)!

But we still have... freedom of choice!!


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 06:29
German to Serbian
+ ...
A different approach Jul 29, 2012

Omar Lobao wrote:

. I think that will be possible that computers do everything that humans do.
But... if computers will do everything that we can do... there's no more reason that humans still exist:))!!


Oh yes, if computers take domination, then humans will start copying them, i.e. talking in Google translator sentences. This is the only possible "harmonization" between the two.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:29
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
It is not putting us out of business Jul 29, 2012

Christine Andersen wrote:
So is this thing going to put us out of business?

Machine translation, in the form of PC-based software, Google Translate, and other free and paid tools, have been available to the general public at reasonable prices for over a decade. Has this meant a reduction in business for translation? Not at all: there are more translators than ever, and I am yet to meet someone who has given up. So clearly these technologies are opening an international world to a host of companies and people who in due time discover that they need a proper translator for their important stuff.


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 06:29
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I'm certainly not worried Jul 30, 2012

I see it the same way as Tomás.
Just as I am sure good cooks will never be out of business, nor will good translators.

(In Danish computers still have trouble with homonym pairs like courts and dishes, [ret] permission and laws [lov] and plenty more...)

The business may change, and we may make use of TMs and databases as cooks use frozen vegetables to get the best, even out of season...

But the work will still have to be done. There will always be times when no gadget can replace a competent human, and as language changes and develops, translators will always be needed to program the gadgets. At least for a good many generations yet.

I reckon humans are smart enough to stop computers before they really take over. But they are also heroic enough to outwit and overthrow other tyrants and oppressors, so I'm optimistic.


 


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