The real danger of Machine Translation

Post date: Oct 18, 2022 7:7:52 PM

We've been working with MT for quite a few years now to understand it will never put in jeopardy the future of a "creativity centered" provider like Locsmiths.

MTs are evolving fast, but also evolving slower. Seems like a paradox, but we need to look into it from two angles. MTs are getting better and better in identifying contents and patterns, but have shown, without any shadow of doubt, that they can't, won't and in this current format will never be able to create. Maybe in the future, with advanced quantum computing we will reach a point of creation, but that would be the seeds of a living AI. That's still science-fiction, and will be for a long time.

So, MTs are, in essence, a productivity time saving cost-cutting tool. But they have no personality; can't handle multiple characters with single traits, don't know the difference between a tool (working tool) and a tool (an idiot). MT is a tool. That's all fine.

The real danger is when the people pushing the usage of MT want the best of both worlds (lower prices, higher productivity, same quality). That is an unreal expectation, and translators should not resign to this as a "new normal". It is not. And translators that accept this are endangering not only their jobs, but everybody else's, by perpetuating the false image that you can edit an MT output to look as good as human output.

Recently a Polish court took the first legal steps to start separating human work from machine work. More info about that here.

It was a first step, and we hope these steps keep appearing, like the Language Selection menu from Valheim, where Coffee Stain Publishing took a step forward and being transparent about the origin of the localization, in this case, Professional vs Community works, as you can see here.

Of course we are not against MT or Community work, its part of your daily work, but its clear the current status quo is untenable, and transparency, coherence and legal protection is needed for the professionals whose livelyhood depends on the stance of the localization industry in general, and games localization industry in particular.

Even the  original proponents of MT (Microsoft),  and we are all accustomed to their Help pages machine translated, were candid about the origin of those texts. Like my mother used to say, if you are ashamed of it, then it's probably not right.