28 February 2023
ChatGPT AND/OR translation industry

Today I will try to take up a subject that has been the talk of the town for some time now… Especially from the translator’s point of view. Evolution of Technology. Since it’s a vast topic, I will try to understand and explain what I have understood so far, simultaneously, piece by piece, and we can keep this discussion going for a few editions to come.


Man has been always fearful and in fact a bit averse to the technological changes and disruptions but eventually we accept it and it only adds value to our life. Take the journey of translation industry… from hand written translations (almost till late 70s) to type writers (till 80s) to computers (around early 90s) to internet (late 90s) to TMs (late 2000s) to Google translate (early 2010s)… The industry has seen lot of disruptions in the last 50 or so years… Considering the 1 of the reasons behind the origin of computers, this was not that unpredictable, yet we are here and we are doubtful, again.


What is ChatGPT?

Today the name of our fear is “ChatGPT”. ChatGPT can be considered as a disruptive technology. It is a powerful language model developed by OpenAI that can generate human-like text responses to a wide range of prompts, including questions, statements, and requests. With its advanced natural language processing capabilities, ChatGPT has the potential to transform various industries and fields, including customer service, content creation, and data analysis.


The introduction of AI language models like ChatGPT has the potential to revolutionize the translation industry. ChatGPT, with its ability to generate human-like text based on input, is making inroads into the realm of machine translation, which was previously dominated by rule-based systems. In this essay, we will explore how ChatGPT is likely to impact the translation industry, both positively and negatively.


One of the biggest benefits of ChatGPT and similar AI language models is the speed and efficiency they bring to the translation process. Machine translation systems can translate large amounts of text in a fraction of the time it would take a human translator. This can be particularly useful in industries such as news, where timely information is critical, and in fields such as e-commerce, where the ability to quickly translate product descriptions and other content can give companies a significant competitive advantage.


Another advantage of ChatGPT and other AI language models is that they can work 24/7 without rest, which makes them ideal for use in large-scale, ongoing projects. This can reduce the workload for human translators, allowing them to focus on more complex tasks, such as revising and editing the machine-generated translations.


However, there are also some potential downsides to the widespread adoption of ChatGPT in the translation industry. One of the biggest concerns is the quality of the translations produced by AI language models. While machine translation has come a long way in recent years, it still often struggles to accurately convey meaning, particularly when dealing with complex or idiomatic language. This can result in translations that are grammatically incorrect, unnatural, or simply nonsensical.


Another issue is that AI language models like ChatGPT are only as good as the data they are trained on. If the training data is biased or lacks representation of certain languages or cultures, this can result in translations that are insensitive or even offensive. This can have serious implications for companies operating in multicultural environments, where a single mistranslated phrase could damage their reputation.


It is also worth considering the impact that ChatGPT and other AI language models may have on the employment prospects of human translators. While it is unlikely that AI will entirely replace human translators in the near future, it is possible that their role may change as more and more translation work is automated. This could lead to job losses for some translators, particularly those who are not able to adapt to the new technologies.


In conclusion, for today’s essay, the introduction of ChatGPT and other AI language models is likely to have a significant impact on the translation industry. While there are many potential benefits, such as increased efficiency and speed, there are also some concerns, such as the quality of the translations produced and the potential impact on employment. As with any technological advance, it is important to carefully consider the potential consequences before fully embracing it. Ultimately, the success of ChatGPT and other AI language models in the translation industry will depend on their ability to produce high-quality, culturally sensitive translations that accurately convey meaning.

Saumitra Mahajan

Vice President (West)