Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 5th Feb 2018 23:04 UTC, submitted by Morgan
Google

Such a development would cause a soul-shattering upheaval in my mental life. Although I fully understand the fascination of trying to get machines to translate well, I am not in the least eager to see human translators replaced by inanimate machines. Indeed, the idea frightens and revolts me. To my mind, translation is an incredibly subtle art that draws constantly on one's many years of experience in life, and on one's creative imagination. If, some "fine" day, human translators were to become relics of the past, my respect for the human mind would be profoundly shaken, and the shock would leave me reeling with terrible confusion and immense, permanent sadness.

As a translator myself, I can indeed confirm Google Translate is complete and utter garbage, but the idea that I would "mourn" the end of translators seems outlandish to me. The unstoppable march of technology has eliminated countless jobs over the course of human existence, and if translators are next, I don't see any reason to mourn the end of my occupation. Of course, it'd suck for me personally, but that's about it.

That being said, I'm not afraid of running out of work any time soon. Google Translate's results are pretty terrible, and they only seem to be getting worse for me, instead of getting better. There's no doubt in my mind that machine translation will eventually get good enough, but I think it'll take at least another 20 years, if not more, to get there.

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Translators will never go away
by IndigoJo on Tue 6th Feb 2018 13:10 UTC
IndigoJo
Member since:
2005-07-06

I can't imagine computers will ever wholly replace human translators. Some languages are written in a way that two different words can be written with the same letters, and the reader has to know the context to know which word is being used (e.g. Arabic, which omits short vowels from the standard written form). At the very least, a proof-reader will be required to correct mistakes and make sure idioms are correctly translated, and they will need to know both languages.

Reply Score: 1

kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

Some languages are written in a way that two different words can be written with the same letters, and the reader has to know the context to know which word is being used


That's not a problem for computers. Watson showed that contextual understanding is possible, given the right training.

The problem is that language is a moving target, influenced by culture on all time scales at varying proportions, and still spoken more often than written. By the time things get written down, the culture will have already moved on.

So for computers to make progress, they very much have to be equipped with voice recognition, and exposed to language and culture all the time, and it must start to communicate with itself in that language, like we do when we talk to ourselves or thinking of what to say.

Reply Parent Score: 5