GALA 2019 Munich: HumAInity at Work
GALA 2019 took place in the beautiful city of Munich, 24-27 March. As before, GALA provided a few days of exchange, learning, and reflection on the present and future of the industry. Considering the increasingly important role that AI is playing in our lives, this year the GALA Program Committee encouraged participants to engage in discussions about the changing role of the human being in an AI-driven language service industry.
Getting into Gear: Sunday’s Welcome Reception and Pre-conference Workshops
Unlike last year’s snow-covered gathering in Boston, GALA 2019 Munich started on a sunny note. All the same, work started bright and early already and the Sunday before the official start of the sessions was brimming with activity from the morning on. The stimulating regional development workshop on Sunday morning brought together delegates from several regions to discuss challenges and opportunities to drive development in specific areas of the globe, whether they be linked geographically or by language. In the afternoon, after registration started, the newbies workshop continued our tradition of warmly welcoming first-time participants to the conference right before the start of the GALA Welcome Reception. The patio at the Westin Grand hotel was buzzing with activity and re-encounters at our largest conference yet: thank you to the 500 delegates and to all our members and sponsors for making it a very productive gathering!
Machines vs Humans or Machines for Humans? Reflections on the Impact of AI in the Industry
The conference was opened by Brett Frischmann’s thought-provoking keynote on the consequences of disruptive changes in AI for humans, arguing that dangers lurk not in the increasing alikeness of machines to human beings but rather in the possibility of humans becoming more machine-like. His remarks, although coming from outside of the industry, linked closely with one of the main topics of the conference: the presence and role of the human in an AI-driven industry.
Reflections on where humans stand in relation to the rapid developments of AI seeped through all of the panels and workshops of the program. What is AI’s role in the industry and, importantly, what are the myths and misunderstandings of its impact on new roles and workflows in localization? Many ideas and approaches were discussed in the panels, but there was a common thread to them all: there is no doubt that AI is here to stay, and despite the inevitable shifts that it will affect in the industry, it will not entirely substitute humans at work but rather enhance their productivity and prospects.
“The essence of engineering is people: it is the capacity to design around our human limitations so that we, as a species, can transcend them”. (Dr. Alan Finkel, Chief Scientist for the Australian government, quoted by Claudia di Lorenzo, TRANSLATED)
The Future of the Industry: New Roles, New Workflows, New Talent
What is, then, the future of the industry? If we could sum up the many insights that were provided by our excellent speakers, we would divide them in three main areas:
- Firstly, roles in the localization industry are destined to change and evolve. Linguists will face an increasing demand for specialization and for MT post-editing and upskill accordingly, while project managers and leads will see their roles evolve into more consultative, strategic ones.
- Secondly, workflows and expectations will change. Marketing and sales strategies will have to be adjusted to changing client expectations and, as the many excellent product demos during the conference showcased, constant innovation in tools across all sectors of the industry will heavily influence the ways in which projects, teams and programs are managed.
- Finally, these AI-driven changes will demand new (human!) talent coming into the industry to make it thrive. GALA’s sessions on Transforming Talent, which was sponsored by Welocalize, were a first step towards defining the needs of the industry and discuss how to best prepare new generations of linguists, project managers and leaders. As an association, GALA is committed to the development of talent, offering a platform for content sharing and learning through webinars and articles in different areas of the industry. At the conference, we announced our further commitment to talent development through our new academic membership, which will enable educational institutions to join the association for free. Furthermore, this year we partnered with Lion People Global and Project DaRT (University College Cork) for our project #NewWorldofWork to carry out a series of interviews with industry leaders about the future of talent in localization.
Of course, we couldn’t talk about talent without sending a special shout-out to our two Rising Star winners of 2019: Katherine Tse (University of Leeds) and Rita Pang (University of Strasbourg). You are the future of our industry!
The Localization Industry is a Social Industry: Dinner and Translators Without Borders Fundraiser
As stimulating as the talks and panels were, the annual GALA conference does not happen only during business hours. On Monday evening we headed to the conference dinner for an evening of relaxing, celebrating and fun in the beautiful building of the Hofbräuhaus München, where delegates had the chance to enjoy traditional German food and beer (as well as the traditional GALA dancing night!)
On Tuesday evening, thanks to the hard work of Andrew Hickson and the Ludejo team, conference participants partied at the #TakeonmeforTWB fundraiser for Translators Without Borders: a fun throwback to the 80s that showcased the industry’s generosity towards a very worthwhile organization (and the delegates' creativity when choosing their outfits!).
La Niaque! Saying Goodbye to Munich with ‘Fire in Our Bellies’
We finally said goodbye to Munich on Wednesday after a brilliant keynote by industry veteran Véronique Özkaya, who inspired the room with her insights into the different paths to growth, the importance of that untranslatable concept that is La Niaque (energy, ‘fire in the belly’, as she put it) for sales, and the need to be ‘customer obsessed’ to gain customer loyalty. The foyer at the Westin Grand was still buzzing with inspired comments from her talk as the participants gathered round to go for the closing social event of the conference, a post-conference tour of the city.
We hope GALA Munich was an enjoyable and productive event for all the participants. Thank you to all our members, delegates and sponsors - we could not have done it without you!
See you next year in San Diego!