Content is the king. This old age has stood the test of its time with the rise of streaming platforms but there has been an unsung hero. Yes, we are indeed talking about translation and subtitles that have brought the world closer, at least on the content front.
The reason behind the success of Money Heist or Parasite is not only the ease with which they are accessible around the globe but also the subtitles that help people follow the story. Often not spoken enough in this space is translation, often provided when the character speaks in a language that is not the primary language of the content.
Subtitles or translations bring diversity and help content reach a newfound audience. It is so important that marketing teams are now carving out a dedicated budget for subtitling services. This change has also seen another player enter the space – artificial intelligence (AI).
The past few years have been about artificial intelligence and its ability to disrupt every industry. From its ability to detect cancer faster than medical practitioners to use of computer vision to find leakage in pipelines to NLP making chatbots every chatty, AI has done it all. So, it naturally begs the question: will AI be able to disrupt the translation market. If so, what are its advantages, disadvantages and will there be any impact on human translators? Let’s find out.
AI-based translation: what is it and how does it work?
The two things that make artificial intelligence a great proponent for use in any industry is its speed and ability to become accurate over time. These two factors are relevant in the field of translation services as well. The AI-based translation is also not particularly new since they have been embedded in our smartphones for some time now.
You can today summon Google Assistant, Siri or Alexa to do translation for you with ease. Before we further dive into their advantages, let us understand about AI translation first. An AI translation tool or AI translator is a digital tool that uses advanced artificial intelligence (usually natural language processing) to translate not only written or spoken words but also the meaning and context of a message.
These AI translators began their journey as a tool that can translate a sentence. However, they lost context or feeling and simply translated the words. The modern AI-based translation services have improved to a point where they understand the meaning and feeling of a message and are able to translate in another language without losing that meaning.
The most common approach to AI translation right now comes in the form of neural machine translation (NMT). This process involves machines learning to translate through a large neural network that is designed to mimic the human brain. The NMT produces results that are more accurate and sophisticated.
The AI-based translation process begins with data cleansing and training the AI on sector-specific topics. AI is then able to use natural language processing (NLP) to convert human language into machine language, which results in the conversion of data from unstructured text into significant data. AI-based translation is also designed to improve continuously by using machine learning, where the algorithms learn not only from the input but also from the output.
Advantages of AI-based translation
The advantages of AI-based translation can be described as consistency, continuous improvement, use of specific vocabulary and saving of time and money. These strengths have led to many organisations offering AI-based translation or hybrid translation services. Here is a detailed look at some of these advantages of AI-based translation.
- Consistency and Accuracy: The translations done by AI are often consistent for each client and can also be tuned to align with the assignment and business needs. The consistency also goes along with accuracy, which AI-based translation can increase with more assignments and can even match human translators.
- Continuous learning: The NMT-based AI engines used for machine translation can be continuously trained to learn from large datasets and even learn from human feedback. These AI-driven algorithms can also be made to learn from customer content or examples of other translation. Since AI’s scope to learn is endless, machine translation results generally get better with each new training dataset that the program uses to learn.
- Specific vocabulary: AI-based translation can also be used to appease clients who require a specific vocabulary in their translation. The AI-based translation tool can be provided with terminology databases that allow users to manage terminology more efficiently and even organise terms with custom metadata. The AI can be trained by importing terminology with metafields or by adding new fields, which results in specificity of translation. This kind of training leads to AI-based translation that results in specialised content.
- Time and money: Last but not the least important advantage of AI-based translation is its ability to save time and money. While there is a general consensus that human translators won’t be displaced, an AI-based translation can improve and learn to offer machine translation that results in easier editing. This will significantly reduce the cost and time required by human translators. For companies with limited resources, an AI-based translation offers an opportunity to scale globally.
Cons of AI-based translation
Artificial intelligence and services based on AI are limited by the fact that the technology is not fully matured. Anything going haywire with an AI program could significantly impact the product and services based on that program. Here is a look at some of the disadvantages of using an AI-based translation service.
- Initial cost, time and training: The first disadvantage of an AI-based translation service is that it is not like a ready to cook meal. An AI-based program needs to be trained with large sets of data to reach a point where it can deliver high-quality results. This requires investment in the form of time, training and associated cost. While this training will pay dividends over time, the initial cost to create memory banks or terminology bases cannot be ignored.
- Reliance on human translators: Even though AI-based translation will learn and improve, reliance on human translators is here to stay. It is widely believed that AI will take many years to reach a point where it can differentiate between different Spanish dialects. AI is unlikely to rival a human translator in the translation and transcreation of emotive, impactful and persuasive texts. A highly likely scenario is AI-based translation tools doing the translations and humans editing them for context and clarity.
- Confidentiality and Privacy: Another problem with AI-based translation tools is data privacy and confidentiality. The free AI-based translation services are unlikely to adhere to the highest standards of data privacy and security. In order to offer anonymisation services and robust data protection, companies will need to train their AI programs and thus increase the cost mentioned earlier.
List of Cons of AI-based translation
- Low level of accuracy
- Inconsistency across different dialects
- Inability to understand context without extensive training data
- Dependent on data networks and server loads
- Initial cost
- Reliance on human translators
- Data privacy and confidentiality
Why human-based translation is better and is the key USP of Circle Translations
The very first step in translation is to understand the text or context. At Circle Translations, the process begins with understanding the text and also the purpose of that text. On the basis of this learning, the company then starts the translation service where “the translated text stands out and appeals to your target audience”.
It also offers experts with whom clients can discuss their requirements in greater detail. Once the context is established, the next step for the client is to choose their language. The clients get an option to choose from up to 120 different languages. The next step for a client is to place their order for the translation service from any of its existing plans.
Circle Translations also offers custom quotations for customer-specific needs. Once the order is placed, the company assigns a professional translator to each language and even offers a comprehensive development report. This is followed by the first draft and revisions suggested by the client, before the translation becomes ready-to-publish text.
“Our clients witness a minimum of 30 per cent increase in their user base or market share after implementing translated texts in multiple languages,” the company says on its website.