Surely, you have thought about what would happen if machines and AI were to replace human labor .
In fictional media over the past few decades, we see a lot of titles that touch on or explore the concept, especially in the sci-Fi and horror genres, but over time, the subject has also been developed in other genres such as drama and action, and even comedy. 🎬
This means that the idea wasn’t an absurdity that was trending 40 years ago and has since been lost. It shows us how the topic is still relevant to the general public and is increasingly present in the cultural zeitgeist .
The idea that we will be replaced, or even dominated, by machines in the future is becoming less farfetched.
And the topic has never been so trendy or presented in such a tangible way as it is now.
If we think back to the industrial revolution of the 18 th –19 th centuries, the transition to new manufacturing processes in continental Europe, the Americas and Japan between 1730 and 1850 caused a profound and radical transformation of humanity, economically and socially.
The rise of machines
The rise of machines , with the emergence of the steam engine, the mechanical loom and agricultural equipment, replaced people, even suppressing some professions. On the other hand, they also led to intense exploitation of human labor in new forms of employment, giving rise to the formation of the working class, urbanization, and the spread of entrepreneurship and capitalism . Not to mention the environmental harm, which has become progressively worse since then.
At the time, replacing artisans with machines resulted in mass unemployment and significantly lower wages , which wasn’t accompanied by a reduction in production costs leading to a reduction in the cost of living for workers—people still had their usual expenses, but earned much less than before the machines came along.
Is there a machine revolution on the horizon?
The industrial revolution of previous centuries was the most impactful transformation for mankind since the Neolithic!
It’s not difficult to draw a parallel and imagine that today, should robots and artificial intelligence replace human labor, it will result in a massive wave of unemployment and a deep socio-economic crisis.
We can expect that in the decades to come—or perhaps sooner—the concept of work will change profoundly due to technological advances, and especially breakthroughs in the field of artificial intelligence.
The future realities portrayed in great science fiction movies is becoming less and less fictional!
In many fields, we are already seeing this new industrial revolution, which is now starting to jump from books and movie theaters and insidiously settling into our reality.
Machines are getting closer and closer to being able to at least take on jobs based on routine and repeatability , while still leaving jobs that rely on creativity, flexibility, and unpredictability to humans.
Computers will be able to “learn” to perform and improve the efficiency of many different work processes previously exclusive to humans, from customer service to banking and routine medical diagnosis.
If the rulers of developed countries don’t slow down technological advances in this field, and aren’t able to come up with a way to compensate workers who no longer fit into their professions with some kind of basic income that allows for a decent life, we may be heading toward dark times…
By the early 2000s, the processing power of computers was already sufficient to perform basic machine translation.
Developers of the time used statistical databases of languages to train the computers in text translation. And the software did translate, with questionable quality, but it did translate.
We can define machine translation as artificial intelligence being used to translate a text from one language to another without the involvement of a human being, and this has been around for a long time.
However, two decades later, the technology has evolved immensely! Machine translation has not only improved in terms of speed, but also in terms of accuracy .
Modern-day machine translation goes far beyond a direct, word-for-word translation and is already able to communicate the meaning in the source language by analyzing every sentence element , the whole sentence, and recognizing how words influence each other.
Some even say that automated translations are now able to rival human professional translation services. But are they?
Artificial intelligence, or AI, refers to the set of tools used by a machine to replicate human intelligence based on algorithms that allow it to reproduce behavioral processes of the human brain.
Today, AI makes use of technologies such as deep learning and machine learning, which allow for practically immediate translation of large volumes of text with increasing quality, since it’s already capable of automatically correcting itself, improving the quality of the translations produced.
But how do machines learn?
At the core of this revolution, what eventually enabled machines to replace us was their newly acquired ability to learn .
Simply put, AI “learns” by looking for patterns within massive data sets. When it finds a pattern, it assesses it, adjusts its program based on what it has learned, and when it has a certain number of patterns stored, it’s also able to make predictions.
For example, the machine can detect that whenever (or most of the time) a human translator meets word X alone, the translation used is Y.
Nonetheless, whenever (or most of the time) a human translator meets word X in a given context, the translation used for the same word might instead be Z.
This is a pattern, and its repeatability means that there’s a much higher probability that the machine will find the most adequate translation, which isn’t the most obvious and straightforward, by detecting that specific context. This is something that machine translation software was unable to do until now, and it is truly revolutionary.
The more data the machine can use for pattern detection, the more resources it will have stored and, of course, the “smarter” it will become.
There is no ignoring the advances in AI and machine learning and the fact that they can undoubtedly ease the work of humans in general, particularly in the area of language services.
These advances in translation, through artificial intelligence and machine learning, may lead us to conclude that in the long run translators will be expendable because language barriers between people will no longer exist. 🌍
Nothing could be further from the truth. The skill of a native translator , their understanding of cultures and the ability to detect the subtleties that escape AI, will continue to be crucial.
Machine translation has improved beyond belief, but it’s not infallible, much less can it consider local habits and cultural traits or adapt the translation to the intended audience or type of customer, nor consider factors such as the intent behind the words. 🤓
In the case of less common languages, for which fewer materials are available, the AI has to use English as an intermediate step, making machine translation even more prone to errors and misunderstandings.
Mistakes in business, financial and marketing translations can have serious financial consequences and/or reputational damage, litigation, etc. In the case of technical translations in fields such as medicine, errors may have even more severe consequences, with risks to people’s health or even their lives.
We can all agree that an automatic translator will always be more prone to “ translation errors ” than a team of human translators and proofreaders with sensitivity and common sense, with general cultural knowledge to pick up on references, the ability to discern irony, sarcasm, and figurative meanings, etc.
If you are interested in translation, proofreading and copywriting services, reach out to our people , who will be happy to talk to you on WhatsApp or via the contact form here:
And be sure to read the second part of this article , in which we show you a real conversation with AI.