Don’t let Artificial Intelligence get you lost in translation – industry expert shares at the Beijing Data Innovation Summit

BEIJING, NOVEMBER. Asian Absolute’s Managing Director Julie Giguere joined the world’s top data scientists, as well as senior experts and business leaders from several Fortune 500 companies, to speak at the sixth AI and Big Data Innovation Summit held in China’s capital. The topic she shared her expertise on?

How Artificial Intelligence developments in Machine Translation (MT) are affecting the translation industry. Specifically, how companies can make sure that as well as benefiting from lower prices, higher efficiency and increasing speed in certain areas, they are aware of the critical need for data quality management systems when using MT.

Because although Machine Translation may have achieved human parity on specific data sets and language pairs, most languages and specialist subjects will not share the same level of results.

“There are still many challenges, such as data scarcity and data quality,” Julie explained. “Users of Machine Translation sometimes turn to the web to obtain data to train their system. This can lead to MT contamination when large amounts of bilingual data are collected automatically and a portion consists of machine-translated text, or very poor quality or uncontrolled data.”

She went on to underscore the costs of translation failures. Pointing to the risks to brand reputation, legal exposure and miscommunication in addition to the usually well-understood financial ones.

The bottom line, Julie stated, is that “machines still can’t grasp all the subtleties and nuances of a language or incorporate the creativity that a human would.” This means that businesses and translation companies should see even the current vastly improved MT technologies as tools that augment conventional translation services. Rather than a technology which can replace professional translators. Not least due to the anticipated forthcoming need for businesses to translate content into a steadily increasing number of “niche” languages in order to reach small but fast-growing economies.

“Where approximately 14 languages are sufficient to reach about 75% of global Internet users today, reaching the next 20% requires adding about 40 more,” she added. “It has been estimated that by 2027 businesses will need to translate into more than 60 languages in order to reach 96% of the online population.”

Julie concluded, “for these potential clients, the lower cost of translation will increase both the demand and the number of buyers who can consider sophisticated translation services they haven’t previously been able to afford. While the number of languages that can be profitably translated is increasing with the new lower-cost, AI-supported approach.”

With even the smallest enterprise potentially serving a global client base, the need to communicate clearly across languages and cultures will continue to grow.