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And what about AI?




CIOL roundtable on Generative AI

Generative AI models, such as ChatGPT, remain the ‘talk of the town’ with talk of disruption for many professions over the last year or so.

Translation has already undergone several technological revolutions, from Translation Memory to Neural Machine Translation. So, what is the impact of Generative AI?

This CIOL roundtable on Generative AI discussed and debated the potential short, medium and long term impacts with a live audience of over 500 linguists from around the world.


To watch the webinar on CIOL's YouTube channel click on the image above or this link.

 

Introduction

The CIOL AI roundtable explored the future of translation, debating whether Generative AI (GenAI) represents the next major revolution or the latest overhyped trend.

The discussion tackled a series of key questions:

•    What are the biggest problems and challenges caused by AI that translators face?•    To what extent is AI already affecting translation?•    Are translators better prepared than most professionals for an "AI world"?•    Beyond “pure” translation skills, what capabilities should a translator have or develop?•    What opportunities exist for translators?•    In an increasingly ‘tech-first’ translation world, what remains special about the skilled linguist?

The panel was hosted by Dom Hebblethwaite, Head of Membership at CIOL, who provided an overview of Generative AI and other technological developments and their impact on freelance translators in particular. Examples of the potential 'overhyping' of GenAI included, for example, the recently touted proposition of a 'wholly AI' book translation company:

Joining Dom were CIOL Council members Vasiliki Prestidge, freelance translator, linguist, and owner of Greek to Me Translations. Vasiliki shared her personal experiences working with a range of technologies as a freelance translator.

The panel also welcomed fellow CIOL Council member Mark Robinson, translator and owner of the translation company Alexika, who added his perspectives as both a freelance translator and LSP.

Finally, Florian Faes, co-founder of Slator, offered some key insights from Slator's recent research, alongside his personal take based on his own background in translation.

 


With 546 attendees registered for the Certified Translations roundtable, this was one of the largest CIOL online events of the year.


Key Insights

Looking at the use of GenAI models such as ChatGPT, 60% of participants were using these technologies for their personal productivity, although the number was lower for use specifically for translation at 35%. Interestingly this number almost exactly matched the results from the survey of 800 translators by Slator.

 

The panel debated whether generative AI represents a major revolution or an overhyped trend - and landed somewhere in between.


The panel flagged some of the key problems and challenges posed by AI:

  • Perception problems at the executive level, where too many people believe translation is a 'solved problem' due to AI, leading to unrealistic expectations and pressures.

  • The need for translators to adapt to new roles, such as post-editing, which require some different skills from traditional translation.

  • Confidentiality concerns - especially with free AI tools like Google Translate, compared to more secure, paid-for tools.

The panel also discussed some of the opportunities presented by AI:

  • Increased demand for high-quality translations and human expertise, particularly in creative and specialised fields.

  • New roles emerging, such as 'audio AI post-editors', who ensure the accuracy of AI-generated content.

  • AI as a 'co-pilot' or assistant to enhance productivity and quality in translation.

The Q&A session saw some some great questions coming in from the audience. The panel covered as many as possible in the limited time remaining, including depth vs. breadth in language skills, how we define a 'modern linguist', core language skills and cultural understanding as superpowers, confidentiality concerns, the effectiveness of AI for specific tasks, changing workflows and pricing models, the likely short, medium and long term impacts on translators' work, broader implications and views on the future outlook.

 

Conclusions

The panel's overall conclusions were:

  • There is a clear gap between the reality of AI’s capabilities and clients’ perceptions, leading to both opportunities and challenges for translators.

  • The panel emphasised the importance of staying informed and continuously learning, to navigate the evolving landscape.

  • The discussion highlighted the need for transparency, continued education, and adaptation to ensure that translators remain relevant and are valued in an AI-enhanced world.

Comments from from the live audience included:

  • Many thanks for an informative, helpful and truly thought-provoking roundtable discussion.

  • Tremendously interesting webinar.

  • Thank you Dom, Vasiliki, Florian, Mark.

  • Brilliant - well said, Mark! I totally agree with you. I love the idea of cultural superpowers!

  • Many thanks, fantastic event.

  • Fabulous roundtable!

  • Super interesting!

  • Thank you very much!

  • Thank YOU!

  • I thought the webinar was excellent. Many thanks to Dom and the others involved.

 

To watch the webinar on CIOL's YouTube channel click on this link.

 


 


Vasiliki is a translator, interpreter, transcreator, blogger, consultant and director of Greek to Me Translations Ltd. She works with English, Greek and French herself and has a team of trusted colleagues who can cover other languages. The offered language services serve mainly the legal, creative, marketing & advertising, fashion and media industries, including voiceover direction.


Vasiliki is a Chartered Linguist, member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL), the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and Panhellenic Association of Greek Translators (PEM). She is registered with the Greek Consulate in the United Kingdom as a certified translator and interpreter.


She holds a BA in English Language and Linguistics and Masters in Business Translation and Interpreting. As Member of Council to the CIOL and Board Member of the IoL Educational Trust she overseas and supports the organisations' strategic goals.


Being involved in her industry means often delivering public speaking and writing for industry magazines. Her mission is to help organisations and individuals achieve their goals through the power of words. Through The Translators Mentor, Vasiliki helps aspiring or young translators to overcome self-limiting beliefs, build a business mindset and achieve their highest potential.



You can follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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