Even Microsoft gets it wrong (“Skype Translator”) September 29, 2014Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings, Uncategorized.
From the latest ATA News Briefs:
New Translation Technology No Threat to Professional Translators
After 15 years of research, Microsoft has unveiled Skype Translator, a voice translator that will convert speech from one language to another in almost real time. The service—dubbed by the media as the “Star Trek Translator”—will be available for Windows 8 by the end of this year. Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella describes the system as a neural network that “learns” from data, much like the human brain. “It’s not,” Nadella says, “just about daisy-chaining speech recognition, machine translation, and speech synthesis.” But according to Andy Way, associate professor of computing at Dublin City University, the hype promises more than can be delivered. Way says, “You’re more likely to have everything else in Star Trek before you ever get a universal translator.” Philipp Koehn, chair of the Machine Translation School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, agrees with Way. “Automatic spoken translation is a particular problem because you’re working with two imperfect technologies tied together—speech recognition and translation,” he says. Despite their imperfections, industry analysts say Skype Translator and other automated translation programs are here to stay. They believe globalization has driven the demand for translation beyond the availability of translators. European Commission Language Officer Angelique Petrits says that her organization translates two-million pages into 24 different languages every year. “The organization wouldn’t be able to fulfill its mission without up-to-date translation technology.” Petrits does not view machine translation as a replacement for human translators. “Technology is a tool that helps dealing with the scarce resources of translators by speeding up their work and allowing them to concentrate on the essentials. It also contributes to the consistency of terminology, crucial in EU texts,” Petrits says. Way, Koehn, and Petrits all insist that technology is not about to replace translators. As Way observes, “There is just so much translation to be done—people have estimated that only around five percent of what needs to be translated actually is—that good translators will never be out of a job.”
From “Tech Is Removing Language Barriers—but Will Jobs Be Lost in Translation?”
Guardian (United Kingdom) (09/19/14) Williams, Martin
Well, considering they keep talking about “spoken translation” I don’t think we have anything to worry about. Come on, engineers, if you are programming it you should AT LEAST know the difference between interpreting and translation. Wow.