You might have heard that artificial intelligence is improving. Services like Google Translate make it easy to copy and paste text in a box online and get a full translation in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately, these translations have a reputation for being laughably bad.
But new artificial intelligence has some people reconsidering artificial translation. In November 2016, a new, advanced translation service from Google Translate showed improved translation results in 16 different languages. The new results have understandably impressed people around the world.
Whatever progress artificial translation has made, a recent competition between Human and AI translators shows that artificial intelligence still has a ways to go. The competition pitted professional human translators against three AI translation services. In the competition, all of the entrants had 50 minutes to translate literature and non-literature passages from Korean to English. Two professional translators judged the results, not knowing whether human or machines did the translations.
The results did show some promise for the advanced Google Translate, the highest scoring AI software with a score of 28 out of 60. However, the human professional translators defeated them by a landslide, with 49 out of 60 points.
AI translation services might help laypeople quickly get the gist of a document, but the services still have serious limitations. They miss key slang and proper names, and often they miss even basic grammatical tenses in the translated languages. With more sophisticated types of translation, such as technical science terms and legal documents, the problems grow exponentially. For a strong translation, using a professional, human translator remains the only way to get the job done.
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