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Language Translation Tech Starts to Deliver on Its Promise

From the New York Times...

Article Excerpt: The tech industry is doing its best to topple the Tower of Babel. Last month, Skype, Microsoft’s video calling service, initiated simultaneous translation between English and Spanish speakers. Not to be outdone, Google will soon announce updates to its translation app for phones. Google Translate now offers written translation of 90 languages and the ability to hear spoken translations of a few popular languages. In the update, the app will automatically recognize if someone is speaking a popular language and automatically turn it into written text.

Link to the full story here.

InterpretAmerica's Take: To mark the launch of our new website platform, we felt no other news story was more important to highlight than the rapid introduction of speech to speech translation, also known as machine interpretation. 2015 has already seen major announcements by Microsoft and Google, who are in a neck-and-neck competition to grab this huge market segment. Whether we like it or not, real-time demand for multilingual communication now far exceeds the availability of human interpreters, and indeed the infrastructure provided by the still relatively small interpreting services industry. As millions of people across the world come to take for granted the ability to "talk" to others using a machine interface, the importance of quality interpreting will be both highlighted and undermined. It is likely that, as happened with the translation industry before us, demand for both human and machine interpreting will increase. The question will be how our profession responds. Will we successfully set the parameters for when and where these technolgoical tools are appropriate, and when they are not? Will we succeed in protecting our jobs and work conditions? One thing is certain, if we in the interpreting industry don't make the effort, no one else will.


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