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AI Translation: Risks & Rewards

Artificial intelligence, or AI, has exploded in its capabilities over the last few months. Sites like Chat GPT are suddenly capable of writing legal briefs, designing art, and translating text. So why should you ever pay for a translation again?


At Z Cultural Services we focus on a personal touch to translation. While AI may be able to deliver a largely accurate rendition of your text, it is missing the human element. We have tested the capabilities of AI on certain translations, and I'm not going to lie to you--they're pretty good most of the time. If you're going to entertain utilizing AI for your language translation projects, you should be fully informed of the risks and rewards before you forge ahead.


When we talk about risks, we're talking about weak points in AI's skill. We're talking about ways AI could accidentally bungle your translation. AI has mastered the technique of seeming accurate and authoritative. But is it really? A lawyer who jumped in too soon was caught on the record in court citing to cases that didn't even exist because he just trusted Chat GPT's legal work. AI tools are designed to provide answers to all our queries, even if they don't always have accurate answers. They are only as smart and up-to-date as the data they've been fed. But what if they've been fed incorrect or biased data?



My main issue with trusting AI with something critical like translation is its lack of context. Context informs every interpreter and translator as they build an equivalent document in your target language. By design, language is nuanced; words can have different meanings and uses depending on context, tone, and background. AI gets its "knowledge" of translations from the voluminous data it's been fed. If tons of data online point to a certain rendition of a word, AI will choose that one. But what if your document contains some less common variation?


Context is inherently human. We read between the lines. When we see a document, we draw on our memory, knowledge, language, and experience to understand what it is about. Where a ChatGPT-type tool might read a medical record and see the phrase "high pressure" and render it "high pressure," a human reader will immediately know that language refers to blood pressure, a medical condition.


These may seem like semantics and minor details. And they might be. But every time you depend on a machine to do the task of translating human language, you're gambling. Does your document contain anything that could be misinterpreted and majorly impact the end result? Are you feeling lucky?


For informal purposes, it can be great to add tools to your toolbox. AI translations are just one of a plethora of tools to help human beings connect and operate across the diversity of modes of language and expression we enjoy. But for formal purposes, like legal, medical, or educational processes, there's simply no replacement for a professional human being.


Something else AI can't do? Care about you! At Z Cultural Services, we take each project personally. We want to see you satisfied with your translation and able to use it to reach your goals. We want to be part of making the world a more human place. And we won't collect your data for future use.


Contact us today to get a free quote for your translation or interpreting project.

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