Will we translators ever be replaced by machines (computers)?
Thread poster: golf264
golf264  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:47
English to Dutch
+ ...
May 18, 2015

The future of our profession as a translator.

If I enter a a random text at a random time into google translator, I'm very happy with the result. I am reminded how necessary we are, how important our job remains in business.

We can moreover not be replaced by a machine, like a factory worker on the assembly line, but ... wait a minute ...

Is that really the case?

At this time the future looks sound (for we translators) because machine translations are still in the troubled youth phase, but will this at some point no longer apply?

Will the machine (ie, computers) have overtaken us?

Will we become redundant because any person with a piece of software can obtain a quality translation?

I dare not mention any year number in this so-called prophecy, but what do you think about it yourself?

I wanted to gauge the views somewhat on this issue.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:47
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Puzzled May 19, 2015

I'm often perplexed by the immense human effort that goes into inventing technology that can do what we already know how to do much better. The whole of mankind seems to be bent on finding a planet that looks exactly like the one we already inhabit, and inventing cybernetic reproductions of human beings that do everything clumsily and not nearly as well as we do it ourselves. We don't seem to have any other ideas!

Every since the wheel was invented, technology has helped us. We shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking that we'll ever make ourselves redundant. But that seems to be the plan. I don't think there will ever be technology that has imagination. So whilst some translation technologies can be useful, they're just tools.

[Edited at 2015-05-19 16:41 GMT]


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Lily Bian
China
Local time: 19:47
English to Chinese
+ ...
It must be a very long time before the happy moment comes May 20, 2015

I’m not sure if it is right to define the job of translation as a process of recreation. But I’m quite sure that machines, however smart they seem to be, will never create anything; they can only produce something.

Machines do their jobs unconsciously while translators or writers alike put their passions, imaginations into their works.

Maybe someday, human beings will finally invent fabulous machines to liberate translators but it must be a very long time before the happy moment comes.


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Robin Joensuu  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:47
Member
English to Swedish
Already there, partly May 29, 2015

I am quite often contacted by outsourcers to "proofread" (listen to that) machine translated texts for a set hourly rate, more and more so from very large companies. So in a way, we are already there. But to answer your question – will we be redundant? Probably not. It is then more likely that our tasks will change.

I don't know about you, but personally I am not fond of editing (or "proofreading") machine translations. It is boring. And for what other reason do large companies put so much money in developing these tools other than to lower the costs? And it is probably you and I that will pay for it through lower rates.

It is not always popular, but I always refuse editing tasks. In accepting them I would contribute to making my own profession unnecessay, wouldn't I?

[Edited at 2015-05-29 15:01 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-05-29 15:02 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:47
Member (2008)
Italian to English
People cost too much May 29, 2015

Robin Joensuu wrote:

- for what other reason do large companies put so much money in developing these tools other than to lower the costs? .....


- and the most effective way to lower costs is to eliminate people. People are expensive. This applies not only to translation, but to everything. Why do you think you now have to check out your own groceries at the supermarket?

Some people think technology is all just wonderful. I don't.

[Edited at 2015-05-29 15:27 GMT]


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Robin Joensuu  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:47
Member
English to Swedish
technology is not the problem. May 31, 2015

I don't really agree with you. Technology could be a great tool, as you say above (people won't have to do dangerous work, robots can do it instead, for instance). I would not have problems with it in the super markets either if the prices were decreased, but they are not. The increased profits go to the stock holders instead.

And take CAT tools as another example. It really helps to keep a consistent terminology, QA tools like Xbench helps immensely etc. But it is different when quality is an issue. Personally, I find it much harder to create a natural sounding, flowing text when I edit a machine translation than when I do the translation from scratch (but I can't say why that is). So for my part at least, quality becomes a problem with machine translations.

[Edited at 2015-05-31 11:32 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-05-31 11:34 GMT]


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