Linguistic AI: The rise of augmented translation

Published on December 19th, 2019

With artificial intelligence (AI) driving new breakthroughs in translation technology, the industry is on the verge of a tipping point – one that affects both language pros and the clients they work for.

Research carried out by CSA Research (formerly known as Common Sense Advisory) calls this a “disruptive transformation that will redefine how professional linguists work”. At the heart of this transition is something the CSA defines as “augmented translation” that will surround professional linguists with technology to make new things possible and old things much faster and consistent.

The rise of augmented translation

Augmented translation combines a range of technologies to allow human linguists to achieve a higher quality of translation in a shorter time-frame while increasing accuracy and consistency across projects. Here is what CSA Research has to say about the transition to augmented translation, based on its own research:

“Just as ‘augmented reality’ uses AI to enrich individuals’ access to relevant information about their surroundings, this transformation provides linguists with more context and guidance for their projects. They work in a technology-rich environment that automatically processes many of the low-value tasks that consume an inordinate amount of their time and energy. It brings relevant information to their attention when needed. This computing power will help language professionals be more consistent, more responsive, and more productive, all the while allowing them to focus on the interesting parts of their jobs rather than on ‘translating like machines’.”

The impact of this transition will be greatest on large and complex projects where multiple translators have to work on the same or similar pieces of content. This is where consistency over a long period of time and with multiple linguists can be so difficult and time-consuming to achieve.

Augmented translation is already removing these challenges with technologies like automatic translation and translation memory. This isn’t the future; it’s the now and the impact of augmented translation is only going to increase as these technologies continue to advance.

What technology is powering augmented translation?

The technology powering augmented translation already exists. It is merely a question of broader adoption and continued technology development that will decide how quick the transition is from here.

At translate plus, we are already using automatic translation, translation memory, terminology management systems, our advanced translation management system and a range of other technologies to empower our linguists to achieve more. The end result is faster turnaround times, higher quality and consistency, as well as a more cost-effective translation process overall – benefits that are all passed on to our clients.

CSA Research also points to a number of emerging technologies that will bring more AI power to linguists as they become more widely available:

  • Adaptive machine translation. This technology learns from translators on the fly. It adapts to the content they work on, automatically learning terminology and style. It remembers what linguists have previously translated at the sub-segment level, and goes beyond translation memory to help translate text it has never seen before in a way that is consistent with how the individual professional works.
  • Neural machine translation. Today NMT requires vast amounts of processing power, but – as the technology matures – it will improve MT’s fluency and ability to “blend in” with human translation. Even if NMT is in the upswing of a hype cycle, it is a major step forward. Many of the major tech players – such as Baidu, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft – and dedicated translation technology providers – such as SYSTRAN and Iconic – are actively developing this technology.
  • Lights-out project management. Project management can be time-consuming for both managers and linguists. Manual processes such as invoicing and paperwork that eat up valuable time can be automated. When lights-out systems handle these tasks without the need for human intervention, they free up translators, interpreters, and reviewers to focus on their tasks.
  • Automated content enrichment (ACE). This technology is just catching on, driven by projects such as FREME and commercial offerings such as OpenCalais. ACE will benefit linguists by automatically linking terms to authoritative resources and by helping disambiguate them, which will improve MT. It will open new windows in transcreation by helping them find locale-specific content and resources that can make translations more relevant for the target audience.

These technologies will place human linguists at the centre of an augmented workflow that removes restrictions, cuts out repetitive tasks, provides context for each translation decision and ensures their time is spent on the most critical tasks. Everything that can be automated will be taken care of by software and algorithms, leaving linguistic experts to focus all of their attention on the translation decisions that matter most.

Posted on: December 19th, 2019