Will ChatGPT Affect Translation Services and Professional Translation?


ChatGPT has been taking the internet by storm. This AI-driven chatbot is a natural language processing tool that allows users to generate content, have conversations, translate documents, and overcome linguistic barriers. The depth of the answers and feedback provided by ChatGPT have amazed (and horrified) users worldwide.

ChatGPT has a wide range of potential applications, including translation services within the language industry.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT stands for Chat Generative Pre-Trainer Transformer. It can generate answers, translate text, write programming code, and summarize long-form content like books. It uses machine learning algorithms to create human-esque (resemble a human) responses to questions.

In simple terms, it’s a highly advanced chatbot capable of having almost human-like conversations. Since its launch in November 2022, ChatGPT has been used to answer complex philosophical questions, write essays, scan computer codes, and more.

Can it be used in translation services? While it is still too early to say ChatGPT has the capacity to transform many industries, its use could have profound implications for professional translation services.

How ChatGPT Will Change Translation Services

Machine translation services using artificial intelligence are on the rise, and ChatGPT is simply another step in this direction. The main benefit of this software is the speed at which it can turn around translations. Professional translators can take hours or even days, while ChatGPT can translate a website or a book in seconds. This quick turnaround time could reduce the time translators need to spend on the initial translation, instead focusing their time on editing, proofing, and localization, speeding up the translation process.

Now to be clear, ChatGPT is far from replacing professional translators. Machines are still incapable of doing localized translations, and any computer translation is incomplete and potentially lacks important context until proofed by a professional translator. All machine translations still need thorough proofing and editing by a real person at a translation company to ensure syntax fluency and cultural relevancy—most important, correctness.

But this does create a possibility for a new kind of workflow, one where ChatGPT does the bulk of the translation in a very short amount of time, allowing the translator to focus on editing these and working on more projects at once. This preserves the integrity of the translation, speeding up the translation process while still delivering high-quality translations.

Since ChatGPT “learns” by sourcing datasets, the software can better understand the nuances of common languages like English and Spanish over time. Learning is a long-term benefit of this software, not one that will transform translation services immediately.

Greater Access to Translation Services

Technology like ChatGPT is accessible for people to use, making the translation service feature available to a larger audience. While this will not significantly impact businesses that translate HR, legal, scientific, or marketing material, it makes languages more accessible for the everyday person. Someone traveling in a country where they don’t speak the language can use ChatGPT to place an order at a restaurant, give an address to a taxi driver, or make a reservation, and they can do it on demand.

Can ChatGPT Do What Professional Translators Do?

ChatGPT is one of the most complex natural language processing technologies available to the average person today. While some machine translation tools still cannot pick up the nuances and subtleties of human conversation nor replace a translation company, ChatGPT has an incredibly complex processing software capable of producing good content, but again-it needs to be validated. Our team has found both errors or a lack of terminology consistency in the output we’ve seen so far.

Limitation of ChatGPT

Despite the advances, ChatGPT still cannot replace what professional translation services can do.

ChatGPT is still in its early learning stages. The answers it produces are impressive for machines but still fall dramatically short of what humans are able to compose. The software is also currently incapable of understanding and utilizing different style guides, which is an integral part of translation services across industries. Legal materials are not documents translated in the same style as journalistic or HR documents.

Regulated industries

In complex industries like legal or medical, ChatGPT falls short. These industries are highly regulated, and those regulations change from country to country or even state by state. In April 2023, the Italian Data Protection Watchdog ordered OpenAI to temporarily cease processing Italian users’ data amid a probe into a suspected breach of Europe’s strict privacy regulations.

Many industries also use complex, specialized terms uncommon in daily language. Additionally, these industries often have strict formatting requirements. Complex content adds to extensive adaptations that professional translation companies must understand and adjust to. Linguistic ability is not the only mark of a translation company; professional translators also need subject matter expertise and follow different workflows according to the type of content or document translation services.

All of these factors make industries like medicine and legal challenging to translate accurately, within privacy laws, and also obtain the translation services product right. When dealing with doctors, emergency rooms, or court cases, the stakes are high, and getting a translation wrong can have devastating repercussions. ChatGPT is nowhere near advanced enough to be able to handle this. The software may have language processing ability, but it lacks expertise in the subject matter and veracity of the output.

Privacy concerns

Another condition of ChatGPT is the availability of its responses. This presents a significant security risk to organizations; privacy and confidentiality are elements to consider for translation services. Professional translation companies take the privacy of their customers seriously, often signing NDAs and abiding by privacy best practices. ChatGPT is not held to any of the standards that translation companies follow, and any data fed to the AI may be at risk of being returned to someone else as an answer.

At the time, ChatGPT also falls short of neural machine translations or professional language translation software. NMTs have more robust data protection than the open code of ChatGPT, so you know your information is protected and not exposed to anyone who can code.

Other potential uses for ChatGPT in a Professional Translation Company

Some have suggested that ChatGPT could be used for niche languages or dying languages, but this claim is questionable. Machine translation software gains knowledge by combining existing content in a given language. If a niche or dying language doesn’t have enough content on the web, translation services produced by the software will be highly questionable in accuracy.

ChatGPT translations will work best in the context of common languages, simple terms, and machine translation and post-editing services. But ChatGPT is not the most accurate machine translation software on the market. Your company should use one designed for translation services, with the avid and expert supervision of professional linguists, that will select the best engine according to the language pair, content, and domain, controlling quality and other paraments for the automatic translation.

Will ChatGPT Change Language Services?

Despite the hype, ChatGPT will not replace professional translators. It doesn’t even go as far as neural language processes software in translation services. For the time being, ChatGPT will remain a novel experience for the average person of how far AI has come and the technology to test, watch its development and have in mind within the tool sets of companies.

ChatGPT will have a lasting impact on translation services as it evolves, but for now, it falls short of NMTs and is just a step above Google Translate. While it has made headlines for its incredible abilities, it is simply an evolution of existing language processing software. Before it could ever be considered a threat to the translation industry or professional translation services, it still has a way to go.

At JR Language Translation company, we evaluate technology that impacts the localization industry as it comes out of the oven to stay ahead and incorporate new tools into our workflow. Knowing when and how to integrate new tools into your translation service workflow is essential.

Are you interested in putting the technology of machine translation services to work for your business? It would be best to have an experienced and affordable language services partner. At JR Language, we always go the extra mile to achieve your goals and exceed your expectations with great prices and fast turnaround times. Contact us for a quote today—we’d love to learn about your needs and help you succeed.

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