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Will interpreters and translators disappear in the future?

With the birth and advancement of technology, many jobs could disappear and be replaced by Artificial Intelligence in the future. But will this also be the case for translators and interpreters?

In the common imagination, the superiority of machines in this field is already taken for granted and it is thought that technology will definitively erase the figure of the human translator. However, many people are incredulous at the idea that even today, interpreting requires human effort to be carried out properly.

Programs like Google Translate and hundreds of other translation devices, even though they were invented several years ago, are not yet developed enough to be able to replace a language expert. Most likely though, they never will be. Why? There are several reasons.

The first reason why it is difficult for human interpreters to be replaced by Artificial Intelligence is the fact that it works well only in contexts of objective reality (as in scientific contexts) where, under certain conditions, there are consequences which do not vary. Languages, on the other hand, are constructs that can vary according to contexts and conventions, and are constantly evolving. For this reason, machines will never be sufficiently suitable to replace a person.

Another reason is that technology does not possess tools able to replace the fundamental human expressive characteristics and therefore they cannot translate many concepts appropriately. These are apparently secondary elements that are crucial in order to convey a message correctly; elements such as voice tone and body language, according to which it is also possible to transmit jokes, puns, insinuations and cultural references. Machines are not yet able to perform this task!

The third problem is that asking a computer to automatically translate live speech, seems still to be impossible. Short messages could perhaps be assimilated successfully (examples are Alexa and Siri), but in more complex contexts such as conferences and discussions, all this is really difficult and liable to numerous errors. It would really be a problem if, instead of understanding "Today," the computer understood "Tuesday," right?


Maybe one day Artificial Intelligence will be able to replace human translators and interpreters, but it is still further away than people think. Nowadays, technology should be used as a translation support to increase efficiency, not as an alternative to human production.

Articolo a cura di: Marijana Jovanovic

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