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From Assistive Tools to Full Automation: What Digital Technologies Mean for Interpretation

Centre for Translation (December 9, 2022)

CONFERENCE / SYMPOSIUM : The Third HKBU International Conference on Interpreting: Interpreting and Technology: Interplay and Transformation

MAJOR SPEAKER : Fantinuoli, Claudio
LENGTH : 68 min.
ACCESS : Open to all
SUMMARY : Technology, especially artificial intelligence, is considered one of the most important drivers of change in society. One of the most prominent branches of AI, natural language processing impacts the everyday lives of millions of users as well as the practices of many language professionals. Interpreting, too, has gone through a phase of technologization, driven primarily by the widespread adoption of the remote work paradigm and by the use of assistive language technologies, such as computer-assisted interpreting tools. In near future, AI-powered machine interpretation will add a new element of transformation to what most stakeholders already perceive as a rapidly changing multilingual landscape.

In this context, the increasing technologization of professional life is challenging long-standing assumptions about multilingual communication in society and the role human interpreters will play in it. The changes that lie ahead are supposed to be profound, directly impacting how multilingual spoken communication is performed as well as it is consumed by its users. On the one hand, the modern paradigm of automation may lead to a greater use of supportive tools as a means of improving the quality and increasing the productivity of human interpreters, possibly leading to new professional profiles and activities. On the other hand, fully automated spoken language translation will become part of the game with its promise of democratizing multilingual accessibility and making audio and video content ubiquitously accessible to a larger number of people. By impacting the traditional equilibrium between human and machine generated services, these changes are leading to an undeniable degree of uncertainty among practitioners, scholars, and trainers alike.

In my talk, I will put this technologization phase into perspective, providing preliminary answers to questions such as the potentials and limitations of augmented and machine interpretation; the tension between the peculiar features of human-mediated communication and the promises of language automation; the most encouraging uses that interpreters can make of these technological advances; the areas of work that will be negatively impacted by technologization, the ones that will be immune, and the ones that will profit from it. The ethical questions arising from the widespread application of AI to the field of language human interpretation and automatized language access will conclude the lecture.  [Go to the full record in the library's catalogue]

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