Translation’s future relies on our approach to technology

Innovation and approaches to AI as an ally of human translation will provide the freshness our industry needs from now on
Thalita Lima
8 min
Table of Contents

Translation’s future relies on our approach to technology. In the current landscape of technological integration, the translation industry has only two paths to follow: either it extinguishes itself or undergoes a renewal. 

Initially sounding somewhat apocalyptic, but upon closer analysis of the context, we understand that the alarming tone can be a positive driver for change.

Between extinction and renewal, it is, of course, better to opt for renewal. But what does innovation represent in our field? And why does the future of the translation industry depend on our approach to LLMs and other AI?

First, we need to demystify the idea of innovation as something archetypal, a brilliant and rare invention. Innovation is a crucial word for the translation field, especially in the current scenario. It is present in every small action aimed at making something a little better, no matter how small the contribution may seem. 

Innovation involves bringing something that, when created, transforms the way a task is performed. Examples include optimizing a process or a tool.

In our translation management system, BWX, we strive to integrate intelligences: machine translation, glossaries, translation memory, and the sensitivity of human translators. It's an optimized tool that combines the simplicity of machine translations with much more. It streamlines the process, minimizing effort, increasing productivity, and enhancing the authoring experience for translators and agencies.

This is just one example of innovation, but we believe that the translation field is favorable for more as we handle AI with an open, and, above all, curious mind.

What does innovation mean in the translation field?

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Our CEO, Gabriel Fairman, uses an interesting analogy - that of the self-driven car. A self-driven car has to be 10 to 100 times better than human driving to be considered a safe alternative. Being equally good is not enough.

We can use this analogy to think about the relationship between humans and technology in the translation field. Much of the conflict in this relationship stems from a "stubbornness" to always view it from a competitive perspective: "humans versus technologies", "how humans must be better than AI to not lose their jobs", and so on.

These discourses are unproductive for translation. Continuing to measure forces with technology is probably the fastest path to the extinction of this market.

But if renewal is the chosen alternative for translators and translation agencies, then we have a truly productive question: 

How can artificial intelligence and LLMs help humans do their work more efficiently and with higher quality? We believe that this approach is the smartest way.

Future and perspectives in the translation industry

The translation market faces tension in reaching a promising future. On one side, there are executives and managers who believe that LLMs will overcome humans in terms of language services. On the other extreme are those who doubt this and believe in traditional translation, done exclusively by humans, without AI integration.

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How can we see positive prospects in the face of this tension? We believe that opportunities lie in balance. The ability to present arguments for both economic and qualitative advantages is a path.

It is possible to deliver personalized translations with a high level of quality at an attractive cost. In other words, budgets that do not have to charge an exorbitant amount – because they require a great deal of “artisanal effort” from the translator – but that also do not despise the value and intelligence of human work in this process.

Don’t wait for the future to come! Change the approach now

Managing a translation agency, whether as an individual entrepreneur or with a large team, is a complex task. The challenge only grows.

Surviving in this industry requires implementing some strategies, some of which are indispensable to survive in the next 10 or 20 years. The first of these is incorporating software engineering into your workflow.

It is true that software is less flexible in addressing the multiple demands of each client (the process would be impracticable if it had to cater to every particularity). But the gains are remarkable from a business perspective. 

The software allows your agency to have a specialized architecture to handle various types of translation that fits in your workflow. This is great because it brings two valuable benefits: automation and constant improvement.

LLMs are powerful tools when used to their full potential. The future of this translation industry depends on how we deal with technologies today. The translator is the only one capable of using the companies' criteria to work on post-editing that delivers valuable content.

Let's not wait for the future to arrive to make changes. The translation market is already competitive enough. Renewing the approach with techs and preparing to deal with digital architectures will bring the freshness that our market needs.

Thalita Lima
Passionate about languages and the power of localization to connect minds. Journalist, writer, photographer, and ecology student
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