METM18 presentation 

Human vs machine: assimilation or duel to the death?

Sarah Bawa Mason, Portsmouth, UK 

We are at the knee of the curve in the development of artificial intelligence (AI). Translation technologies are advancing fast and the well-funded rhetoric of the technologists has created widespread expectations of free, instant and accurate translation fuelled by the production of machine-generated output.
Translators and editors know the value of their skills but, as a collective of professional communicators, they are surprisingly inept at explaining this to the people who pay for their services and therefore often fail to get the recognition they are due.
What should the human experts be saying to fight their corner? What are the arguments we need to push back against the pressures on our sector?
The Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) is working on an armoury of points for professionals in our sector to defend our expertise against the tidal wave of hype in technologisation.
In this presentation, I will cover the main thrust of the arguments ITI is curating on what human translators do that machines cannot, and what exactly it is we humans can offer that the machines overlook. The content will draw on sources from the fields of language and linguistics, neuroscience, ergonomics, technology, and translation studies.
MET members should leave the session feeling better informed and ready to push more strongly outwards in defending their professional expertise.  They should, at the very least, be able to answer the title question in a calm, convincing and non-sensationalist manner.

About the presenter

Sarah Bawa Mason is currently Chair of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting and Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies at the University of Portsmouth, where she mostly teaches Spanish to English specialised translation and professional aspects of translation. She trained as a translator and editor in the InterPress Service in Montevideo, Uruguay in the 1990s and she also runs a business as a freelance translator and editor for clients including NGOs and international entities such as UNICEF-TACRO, Plan International and the European Training Foundation.