AI has shaken up the Internet and industries worldwide, especially with the launch of ChatGPT. There is no doubt that the language sector is undergoing a profound transformation with the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) and language models.
You might be thinking, hasn't the language industry been through this already? For years, many have said that machine translation would replace human translators, and none of that has happened so far. What makes this situation any different?
Let's take a deep look into how ChatGPT is used in the language sector and what you can do to remain competitive regardless of how advanced the technology is.
Just getting caught up to speed with ChatGPT? If you haven't paid attention to the buzz or are not familiar with the concept, here's the lowdown: the intelligence design research lab OpenAI is a company that aims to promote and develop friendly AI in a way that benefits humanity as a whole. OpenAI has recently launched ChatGPT, a variant of the popular GPT-3 language model, which runs on neural networks and provides human-like responses.
Because of how advanced it is in mimicking human-like responses, several articles like Should We Be Worried About Being Replaced have started circulating online. Industries that were once thought to be safeguarded against the loss of jobs to machines, like visual arts and writing, have begun to partake in the conversation.
Unlike other industries, human translators have long been told that their work will be replaced by machine translation. As early as 2018, we wrote an article on the reasons why machines will never replace human translators, and to quote from it, “Tasking a machine with gathering such knowledge is one thing, but asking it to apply that knowledge sympathetically to a translated document is a whole other ballpark.”
Human translators will need to have specialized skills and expertise to better equip themselves to deal with the new technology and be competitive. ChatGPT and AI tools will assist in the translation tasks that will increase accuracy and efficiency while reducing costs. Like localization strategist, Jodi Shimp said, “When used as a tool, they can improve processes, increase output, and reduce tedious tasks to give content creators more opportunities to spend their time on creativity and innovation.”
Shimp explained that one drawback is a possible over-reliance on the model. She explained, “This can perpetuate harmful stereotypes and discrimination and lead to inaccurate or unfair decision-making. For example, suppose the data for an AI-based language model comes from only American and European sources. In that case, ChatGPT’s responses could be based too heavily on Western ideas and cultural norms that may differ significantly from those elsewhere, leading to biased responses.”
Game localization specialist Ebru Nilay Vural, who personally prefers to do human translation projects over MTPE-related jobs, stated that although she hasn’t personally tried the model, a colleague of hers has compared her personal translations to those created by ChatGPT. Since she specializes in English-Turkish translations, they found that there were minor typos and errors in the Turkish translations.
However, she remains optimistic about ChatGPT’s potential, albeit cautiously. She explained, “ChatGPT could speed up the translation process and perhaps help PMs to organize the workflow more effectively. However, the quality of the translation would depend on the field and the AI’s training.”
However, it is important to consider the implications of such models. Job displacements will certainly occur, yet we will save the discussion on how we go about it ethically for another time. For now, let’s take a look at how we can upskill the language industry’s workforce to be better equipped to use ChatGPT and other similar AI tools.
Upskilling the language industry might seem like a daunting task, but, like with any problem, coming up with a strategy is the best way to solve it. And so, the only way for professionals in the language sector to remain relevant and competitive, regardless of ChatGPT and other AI-based language models, is by retraining and upskilling them. We've listed a couple of suggestions.
1. Identifying your strengths and weaknesses - This might sound obvious. Still, many language service providers and remote translators often overlook this phase and fail to evaluate the areas where they excel or need to improve. Even though ChatGPT and other AI models are impressive in translating text, they're not perfect. So, you should still find innovative ways to use them effectively in your work. As Danilo Coviello, CEO and Partner Founder of Espresso Translations, underlined, "The language sector should see it as a tool rather than see it as a potential employee that can replace and take away the jobs of people. Nothing can replace human naturalness and human judgment. Understanding its limitations will help the language sector navigate well around it also."
2. Invest in training and educational materials - After determining what skills and information you need, you can begin to research and look for resources such as books, online courses, workshops, and university programs. For example, Localization School offers linguists and other professionals in the language industry different courses and programs, such as project management, advanced use of CAT tools, and various specialized lessons in localization. By being up-to-date with the latest training and programs, you can stay ahead of your competitors.
If you want to know more training programs, we wrote an article on all the different institutions where you can get started to become a certified translator here: The Top Translation Certification Courses Translators Should Take.
3. Building a learning plan - Once you've gathered all the materials and resources you need for your upskilling, you can create a time line and action plan that's flexible but will keep you on a steady track toward your goal.
With how rapidly technology has evolved, it is crucial that individuals and organizations stay informed about the latest developments in AI and ChatGPT. It's especially important in the language industry, as these new developments can greatly affect job roles and the industry itself. So, we listed some ways you can keep up to date with the latest trends and advancements in the language sector.
1. Industry publications and websites - These are a great way to stay up-to-date on the latest news and trends in AI and ChatGPT. Many industry publications offer a wealth of information on new developments and emerging technologies, as well as expert analysis and commentary. There are also many websites that offer similar information and resources.
2. Conferences and events - Attending industry conferences and events is an excellent way to stay informed about the latest developments in AI and ChatGPT. These events provide opportunities to learn from experts, network with other professionals, and see the latest products and services.
3. Networking opportunities - Networking with other professionals in the field is an effective way to stay informed about industry developments. Building relationships with other industry experts and professionals can provide access to valuable information and resources.
The impact of AI and ChatGPT on language sector jobs is significant, and it's essential for professionals in the field to understand and prepare for these changes. By staying informed about industry developments and upskilling, language professionals can take action to future-proof their careers. It's important to take a proactive approach and take the necessary steps to ensure you are well prepared for the changes that are on the horizon.
Clarriza Mae Heruela graduated from the University of the Philippines Mindanao with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, majoring in Creative Writing. Her experience from growing up in a multilingually diverse household has influenced her career and writing style. She is still exploring her writing path and is always on the lookout for interesting topics that pique her interest.