The end of the interpreting profession?
מפרסם התגובה: Williamson

Williamson  Identity Verified
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Nov 5, 2009

Not quite yet, but who knows in now and 10 years http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8343941.stm

Resistance is futile.


[Edited at 2009-11-05 12:04 GMT]

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-11-05 12:34 GMT]


 

Parrot  Identity Verified
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This may be selfish Nov 5, 2009

... but I figure I'll have retired by the time they get their act together

 

Nesrin  Identity Verified
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Anyone else feel queasy reading this? Nov 5, 2009

...or is that a sign that we're getting older and should move over?

 

Rod Novillo
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Not now, not ever.... Dec 6, 2009

It will be impossible now and always to have a computer distinguish nuances like sarcasm, humor, culture, idioms, and all that makes humans human. Therefore, if two humans are trying to communicate with each other in diff. languages, the strict use of a computer aided resource as the interpretor will fail to convey the meaning as well as a human interpreter would 100 % of the time. BOTTOM LINE. So don't get scared with technology taking our jobs away ! See more
It will be impossible now and always to have a computer distinguish nuances like sarcasm, humor, culture, idioms, and all that makes humans human. Therefore, if two humans are trying to communicate with each other in diff. languages, the strict use of a computer aided resource as the interpretor will fail to convey the meaning as well as a human interpreter would 100 % of the time. BOTTOM LINE. So don't get scared with technology taking our jobs away ! http://transart.bizCollapse


 

Eng2Span  Identity Verified
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100% isn't necessary though... May 21, 2010

Sadly, the market doesn't require 100% accuracy for MI (machine interpreting) to succeed... tell someone with budget responsibilities that they can get a human for 95-99% accuracy at x dollars a year or a machine at "only" 85-94% accuracy for a single payment of x/10 and they won't even blink before throwing us to the side. They'll tout how they can now have interpreting available everywhere, available faster, multiple languages in one box, etc.

I say this for anything other than t
... See more
Sadly, the market doesn't require 100% accuracy for MI (machine interpreting) to succeed... tell someone with budget responsibilities that they can get a human for 95-99% accuracy at x dollars a year or a machine at "only" 85-94% accuracy for a single payment of x/10 and they won't even blink before throwing us to the side. They'll tout how they can now have interpreting available everywhere, available faster, multiple languages in one box, etc.

I say this for anything other than the most critical interpreting assignments (not murder trials, class-action, etc)... but once the door is cracked open, give the robots a couple more years and there simply won't be a justifiable difference to keep us around for anything at all. I know I'm exaggerating a bit but I personally treat this line of work as if it is not going to be around in 5-7 years (a bit more pessimistic than necessary to be safe). Not to be gloomy, just to avoid getting into inappropriate financial commitments.

HOWEVER, here's the silver lining in my opinion... once technology gets to the point where a computer can interpret anywhere near the level that I can... then OHHHHH BOYYYY, there's gonna be a lot of other folks without jobs... think customer service reps, sales agents, tellers, etc... also, when a PC can do what I currently do then nothing can really keep it from being fed all of the case law in existence... and since they will be intuitive and adept at discerning everything we humans say and mean , it can determine the merits of cases, weigh evidence on its own, and apply proper sentences when necessary... with zero bias. So, no more juries, no more judges, no more LAWYERS either. Yeah, I'm sure they'll let THAT happen... they'll make Ned Ludd seem like Steve Jobs. Based on this, and only this, human interpreting could be safe for a bit... but tech itself will be able to replace us pretty soon if left unchecked.
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Maria Mlynarcikova  Identity Verified
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maybe not machine interpreting Mar 20, 2011

But from what I see in the meetings that I work in (mainly EU institutions) the delegates will cancel interpreting sooner or later, because 90% of all deliberations goes on in English anyway. In the EP, it's the French who stick to their mother tongue and sometimes the Greeks or Germans, but not as consistently as the French. And as interpreting costs a lot of money and spending cuts are everywhere, it's an easy target for spending cuts.
On my local market, there's hardly any work left for
... See more
But from what I see in the meetings that I work in (mainly EU institutions) the delegates will cancel interpreting sooner or later, because 90% of all deliberations goes on in English anyway. In the EP, it's the French who stick to their mother tongue and sometimes the Greeks or Germans, but not as consistently as the French. And as interpreting costs a lot of money and spending cuts are everywhere, it's an easy target for spending cuts.
On my local market, there's hardly any work left for interpreters or translators, as Google translate is "good enough" and secretaries/assistants can do the interpreting.
Very gloomy prospects ...
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ParlInt
Local time: 08:49
Future of interpreting Mar 22, 2011

They've been saying this for twenty years!
Sadly, some countries are only too ready to give up their language to show that they are international and cultured, but at the EP can you really imagine the Spanish and the Italians giving up that right? Multilingualism is not that widespread in those countries, but more importantly they consider it a right and demand their language 9 times out of ten. France, germany and the UK will usually speak their own languages to maintain the balance of po
... See more
They've been saying this for twenty years!
Sadly, some countries are only too ready to give up their language to show that they are international and cultured, but at the EP can you really imagine the Spanish and the Italians giving up that right? Multilingualism is not that widespread in those countries, but more importantly they consider it a right and demand their language 9 times out of ten. France, germany and the UK will usually speak their own languages to maintain the balance of power, and hopefully in time the Eastern or new EU states will overcome their impulse to show their linguistic skills and stick to preserving their right to negotiate in their mother tongue.
I don't see the prospects as being gloomy, at least not in the EP.

Machine interpreting will always be impossible...for the same reason we don't listen to music composed by computers or read books typed by software. It is the creative reflection of a message using our own personal easel and pallette!
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Williamson  Identity Verified
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Google Speech Mar 25, 2011

ParlInt wrote:

Machine interpreting will always be impossible...for the same reason we don't listen to music composed by computers or read books typed by software. It is the creative reflection of a message using our own personal easel and pallette!


Google leaps language barrier with translator phone


GOOGLE is developing software for the first phone capable of translating foreign languages almost instantly — like the Babel Fish in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

By building on existing technologies in voice recognition and automatic translation, Google hopes to have a basic system ready within a couple of years. If it works, it could eventually transform communication among speakers of the world’s 6,000-plus languages.

The company has already created an automatic system for translating text on computers, which is being honed by scanning millions of multi-lingual websites and documents. So far it covers 52 languages, adding Haitian Creole last week.

Google also has a voice recognition system that enables phone users to conduct web searches by speaking commands into their phones rather than typing them in.

Now it is working on combining the two technologies to produce software capable of understanding a caller’s voice and translating it into a synthetic equivalent in a foreign language. Like a professional human interpreter, the phone would analyse “packages” of speech, listening to the speaker until it understands the full meaning of words and phrases, before attempting translation.

“We think speech-to-speech translation should be possible and work reasonably well in a few years’ time,” said Franz Och, Google’s head of translation services.

“Clearly, for it to work smoothly, you need a combination of high-accuracy machine translation and high-accuracy voice recognition, and that’s what we’re working on.

“If you look at the progress in machine translation and corresponding advances in voice recognition, there has been huge progress recently.”

Although automatic text translators are now reasonably effective, voice recognition has proved more challenging.

“Everyone has a different voice, accent and pitch,” said Och. “But recognition should be effective with mobile phones because by nature they are personal to you. The phone should get a feel for your voice from past voice search queries, for example.”

The translation software is likely to become more accurate the more it is used. And while some translation systems use crude rules based on the grammar of languages, Google is exploiting its vast database of websites and translated documents to improve the accuracy of its system.

“The more data we input, the better the quality,” said Och. There is no shortage of help. “There are a lot of language enthusiasts out there,” he said.

However, some experts believe the hurdles to live translation remain high. David Crystal, honorary professor of linguistics at Bangor University, said: “The problem with speech recognition is the variability in accents. No system at the moment can handle that properly.

“Maybe Google will be able to get there faster than everyone else, but I think it’s unlikely we’ll have a speech device in the next few years that could handle high-speed Glaswegian slang.

“The future, though, looks very interesting. If you have a Babel Fish, the need to learn foreign languages is removed.”


 

ParlInt
Local time: 08:49
Sceptical... Sep 23, 2012

It does seem interesting, but I'd stake my career on it not being possible in the next 100 years. Interestingly, the article suggests that speech recognition is the tricky part. I would have thought te translation part would be infinitely more challenging.

The trouble is, one thing I've learnt in the last 15 years of interpreting, is that language is not 100% self-contained. What I mean by that, is that the message a speaker is transmitting is not 100% contained in the words he uses
... See more
It does seem interesting, but I'd stake my career on it not being possible in the next 100 years. Interestingly, the article suggests that speech recognition is the tricky part. I would have thought te translation part would be infinitely more challenging.

The trouble is, one thing I've learnt in the last 15 years of interpreting, is that language is not 100% self-contained. What I mean by that, is that the message a speaker is transmitting is not 100% contained in the words he uses. It is also very tied up in the background, the context of the discussion, the history of what's gone before, not to mention gestures, sighs, irony and hand-waving. The interpreter uses all of these to interpret the real message. You'd be amazed how often speakers don't use the right words...a little slip here or there goes unnoticed because our brains smooth over the gaps. A speaker the other day actually said "you can't have your chickens and eat them," obviously confusing two English idioms. The interpreters knew what he meant as did the people listening directly...from the context. In fact, with the quality of English often spoken in the Parliament, no machine could be programmed to understand that. It's not just a question of having voice recognition and a massive vocab range...it's being able to read the situation in a human way.

I wish Google all the best though, it's an interesting project.
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