The Impact of Generative AI in the Translation Industry and beyond

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We live in a world that is evolving so rapidly that we often feel overwhelmed by the number of innovations being introduced each week. We feel the pressure to incorporate them into our operations to maintain our company's competitive advantage. In the field of artificial intelligence (AI), the hype is at its peak, so the pressure is even greater. But the truth is that we are all learning, and the winners will be those who can execute faster. Don't believe everything and get your hands dirty!

For our industry, the situation looks very similar to what happened around 2016, when all the tech giants claimed that machine translation had reached human parity. That was the moment when transformers and these generative pre-trained models started, and language service providers (LSP) were afraid of being put out of business. Machine translation technology evolved radically from statistical systems to deep learning in the form of neural machine translation. Today, I can't imagine a translation company without machine translation solutions in its portfolio.

The truth is, the market has continued to evolve as most companies go global to grow, and translation companies are stronger than ever.

The Scale and Speed of Generative AI

Generative AI is not only impacting our industry, but also society at large. And in my opinion, this opens doors for LSPs, who are experts in language and translation and can therefore boldly define what the future will look like with generative AI solutions that allow us to achieve more, sometimes 100 times more! Another important aspect is the speed of new developments: The time from inception to massive deployment can be remarkably short. It took a long time for machine translation to become widespread.

Moving Forward Strategically

What's the best way to move forward? In my opinion, start small, learn with feedback, and iterate. You're probably not going to put a lot of resources into something that's not your core expertise (or part of your competitive advantage) to begin with. Maybe it's better to partner with someone who knows what's going on in the market and can help you accelerate your time to market and choose the best offering, not just the one that's better known. After a while, and some successes and failures, you will realize how strategic the technology is to your business. Then you will decide whether to work with a vendor or bring the team in-house. Every company is different.

Exploring Opportunities

What are the low-hanging fruits? Content creation is the obvious one. Content today can start with a first draft by AI using tools like chatGPT itself or others like Jasper, Writer or Even  If you get what you want, then you need to think about how best to incorporate the results into your workflow. If you don't, you might want to look at prompt engineering, learning with few shots, or fine-tuning a model. In addition to this business scenario, you may also want to consider machine translation with Generative AI, translation quality assessment, or pre-editing, among others.

Future Localization Scenarios

What I find fascinating is what the future might look like. My gut feeling is that some translation scenarios will be very different. For example, it is already possible to create a product listing based on just an image and a product title with a list of features. Imagine what AI will be able to do in the medium term with solutions like emotional text-to-speech or text-to-video that already exist today. Moreover, because new content can be created in real time, e-commerce companies may be able to show you the product you like, with the video, images, and text you prefer, in your own language. You might even become the model of the pictures you see of your favorite T-shirt.

Is this the best future? I think we need to make sure that we create a better world where everyone can benefit from this amazing technology, and we regulate in a lean way to make sure that these solutions don't harm us. With these generative agents creating content every second, with generative images and videos that are as real as the real thing, and with us not being able to tell if a machine or a human is speaking, I think we will go back to the basics of human nature: we will value much more the real-life connections that we missed so much when the last pandemic hit the world.

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