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Can Machine Translation Service Replace Humans In The Future?

Posted by Ethan N. on March 10, 2024.

In the last few years, the field of machine translation service has witnessed tremendous growth and development, thanks to the remarkable advancements in artificial intelligence and deep learning technologies. With the help of these technologies, machines have become capable of translating between several language pairs with great accuracy. However, there is still a question that lingers: can machine translation replace human translators entirely? In order to find an answer to this question, let’s delve a little deeper into this topic.

1. What Is Machine Translation?

Machine translation refers to the use of software to translate text or speech from one human language to another. The basic idea is to analyze examples of human-translated texts and learn patterns that can be applied to new translations.

Early machine translation systems relied on rules-based approaches, where linguists programmed dictionaries and rules of grammar for each language. However, modern statistical and neural machine translation systems take a different data-driven approach. They are trained on vast amounts of existing human translations using machine learning algorithms. The algorithms learn the statistical patterns and relationships between words, phrases, and sentences in different languages to generate new translations.


2. Why Do People Use Machine Translation Service?

There are a few key reasons why machine translation has become so popular:

  • Speed and scale: Machine translation service is much faster than human translation, especially for large volumes of text. It allows translating content at a scale not possible with humans alone.
  • Cost savings: While the quality may not match human translation for all use cases, machine translation provides translations at a fraction of the cost, making it practical for applications that don’t require perfect accuracy.
  • 24/7 availability: Machine translation systems can translate anytime, anywhere without breaks, allowing “good enough” translations even outside of normal working hours.
  • Language coverage: Machines can translate between a much wider range of language pairs compared to what’s available through human translators in certain regions or languages.

In general, machine translation services deliver translations at high speed, scale, and coverage while keeping costs relatively low – even if translation quality is not always perfect. This makes it suitable for many commercial and information purposes.

3. How Can Machine Translation Service Become This Good?

The rapid improvements in machine translation quality can be attributed to two major factors: data and algorithms.

3.1. Data

As machine translation systems are trained on vast amounts of existing human translations, they learn the complex patterns and nuances of each language pair. The more data used for training, the better the systems can generalize and handle new translations. Today’s systems may be trained on tens of billions of words.

3.2. Algorithms

Advances in machine learning, particularly neural networks and deep learning, have taken machine translation to new levels. Neural machine translation systems like Google Translate and DeepL use artificial neural networks that can learn highly complex patterns from data. Compared to older rule-based and statistical approaches, neural networks better capture the context and semantics of full sentences and paragraphs for higher quality translations.

Continued improvements in data volumes, data quality, computing power, and neural network architectures will likely further enhance machine translation performance in the coming years. The gains seem to come at an exponential rather than linear rate as systems reach new scales.


4. What Types Of Machine Translation

There are different types of machine translation systems depending on their underlying methodology:

  • Rule-based MT (1980s-2000s) – Relied on writing linguistic rules and dictionaries for each language pair. Required heavy human input but was accurate for limited domains.
  • Statistical MT (2000s-2010s) – Analyzed patterns in parallel corpora using statistical algorithms like n-grams. More automated than rule-based but struggled with longer sentences.
  • Neural MT (since 2010s) – Models entire translations as a neural network problem using deep learning. Vastly outperforms previous approaches and handles complex sentences better. Used by most modern MT systems.
  • Hybrid MT – Combines rules, data-driven learning and neural networks to leverage the strengths of each approach.

The type used depends on the language pair, domain, and desired balance between translation quality, speed, and human effort required. Neural MT has emerged as the most effective in recent years.

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5. How Can You Benefit From Using Machine Translation Service In A Professional Environment? 

You should know that there are many advantages of appropriate machine translation services in professional contexts:

  • Faster turnaround times: Quick translations allow businesses to reach more international customers faster.
  • Higher volumes: MT scales to translate enormous content that would overwhelm human teams. Great for manuals, documentation, and marketing content.
  • Cost reduction: Savings on translation can be reallocated to other priorities or passed to customers through lower prices.
  • 24/7 availability. MT translations are always on to handle unpredictable spikes in demand or tight deadlines outside work hours.
  • First-pass translations. MT provides initial translations that can be post-edited as needed by human translators, improving their efficiency.

However, meanwhile machine translation has made impressive strides, it still cannot match human translation quality in all scenarios:

  • Accuracy: For complex, ambiguous or idiomatic content, human translators are more likely to choose the right meaning and nuance after considering context.
  • Style and tone: Machines struggle with translating different styles, genres and levels of formality accurately. Humans are better at adapting tone.
  • Domain expertise: Translating technical, legal or other specialized domains requires deep subject matter knowledge that machines currently lack.
  • No common sense: Life experiences, cultural fluency and common sense knowledge help humans handle ambiguity, but are difficult for AI to replicate fully.
  • Feedback loops: Humans can iteratively improve translations based on feedback, usability testing, and learn from mistakes, which is challenging for static machine translation models.

So in tasks requiring the highest quality translations, a human or human-assisted workflow will still be preferable. But machines are a force multiplier when used strategically as part of the process.

6. GTE Localize Provide The Best Machine Translation Service

For high-quality, secure and compliant machine translation service with human capabilities, you cannot overlook GTE Localize

We leverage the latest neural machine translation technologies to provide an initial translation draft at high speed. Our team of expert linguists then reviews, edits and enhances these machine translations, focusing on technical correctness, cultural fluency and natural language. Every piece of translation is handled within our secure infrastructure and strict data privacy practices meet compliance requirements.

Contact us to learn more about how our human-assisted machine translation solutions can scale your global operations while maintaining the highest quality and compliance. The future of translation is hybrid, and GTE Localize is leading the way.