Due to globalization, the need for translation has quickly increased, for example:
- Business areas: company employees need translation to sign international contracts.
- Academic areas: students who study abroad need translation to understand difficult articles.
- Entertainment area: audiences need translations to enjoy foreign books, video games, and films.
Before AI came into use, translation was a job that was time-consuming, well-paid, and required a high level of education. Thanks to AI, translation software makes translating a common service that is instant, free, and convenient.
In this article, we will explore what machine translation is, how AI improves the industry, and why AI-powered software cannot replace human translators.
What Is Machine Translation
Machine Translation uses AI-powered software to automatically translate the language in the source material to another language, without any interventions from human agents.
In 1970, the first machine translation software was developed. In the beginning, the software was designed as Rules-based Machine Translation (RBMT), which means the translating deliverables were direct word-for-word translations based on a set of relevant language dictionaries and grammatical rules.
Then, machine translation software was developed into Statistical Machine Translation (SMT). By this time, the software became more intelligent since it could analyze the existing translations made by human translators and then proceed with prediction algorithms to generate context-relevant translations.
Nowadays, machine translation software has entered a new age: Neural Machine Translation (NMT). The core of Neural Machine Translation is its neural network, which empowers the software with self-learning ability. Therefore, the outcomes of NMT software are more logically in line with human language. Currently, NMT is the more advanced version of translation software and is heavily used in conversational translations.
3 Best Translation Software
Translation software has become increasingly popular in today’s society since it is:
- Easy to use
- Quick to get output
- Acceptable for various kinds of materials
Google Translate is one of today’s most well-known translation software. It has many different versions that suit different devices. Powered by NMT, the software is able to provide high-quality translations and accept all kinds of materials, such as texts, audio, pictures, or instant camera visions. So far, Google Translation can support 133 languages.
Smartling is another highly-welcomed translation software that is heavily used in business. Powered by AI, the software provides services not only limited to simple text translation, but focuses on content translation across devices and platforms. As a result, the software aims to build an omnichannel brand culture and deliver consistent information without the limitation of languages. Thus, the target users of Smartling are not individuals, but the companies and organizations that correspond with international businesses.
DeepL Translator is also a translation software powered by NMT. It now has over 1 million users. The software promises to provide high-quality translations by accurately understanding the subtle meaning of words and sentences and then translating them into target languages in an unprecedented way. Thus, DeepL Translator is known as “the world’s most accurate and nuanced machine translation.”
Why AI Translators Cannot Replace Human Agents?
Thanks to AI applications, plenty of industries have started the transformation to automation. This AITJ article: 5 Jobs That AI Is Likely to Automate in the Coming Years provides a clear picture of the future trend of technology application in the workplace.
With AI-powered software heavily used in translation, many people, especially the employees who work or plan to seek a job as translators and interpreters, start to worry about their future: will AI take over their jobs? Will they be replaced by technology?
Well, the answer is no. The current intelligence of AI and its translating ability cannot completely handle translation work without human intervention.
Currently, the accuracy of machine translation is not at an ideal level. The outcomes offered by translation software often have many grammar mistakes, and sometimes even do not make sense. In fact, the automatic translation version should not be used on any official occasions.
Furthermore, translation is never just about languages. Culture also affects it. Compared with machines, human translations are more unique and culturally relevant, since the translations also reflect the agents’ way of understanding and interpreting. In other words, human intelligence will empower their translation with lived human experiences and cultivate a better understanding for target audiences.
If you are interested in what are other careers that can not be replaced by AI, this AITJ article: 4 Careers AI Cannot Replace, will be a good reference.