Artificial Intelligence (AI)  is the buzzword of the moment, captivating everyone with its endless possibilities. But when it comes to interpreters, there’s a mix of awe and concern about whether AI will take over their jobs.

So, let’s address the big question: will Artificial Intelligence Interpretation really replace professional interpreters?

WIRED magazine recently conducted an experiment where two professional interpreters went head-to-head with an AI interpreting tool, and the results were intriguing.

Let’s look at some key takeaways from the experiment:


Spoiler alert: While AI can rapidly process vast amounts of information, AI interpretation is not reliable in critical settings such as courtrooms, medical interactions, or asylum cases.


The Pros of AI, according to professional interpreters:


The big advantage of AI interpretation is its ability to handle large volumes of information, even during high-speed speeches – an impressive feat. 

And, in many cases, AI can accurately handle technical terms and use official translations effectively.

Here’s what one of the professional interpreters who participated in the WIRED magazine experiment mentioned on the accuracy of AI Interpretation:

Walter Krochma: The particular strength of artificial intelligence was in capturing those terms of art. It rendered official translations and caucuses very clearly, pulling those in so very well. That’s what I felt it was most effective at.


So, when is it appropriate to use an AI solution for interpretation?


Here’s what the professionals have to say:

Barry Slaughter Olsen: I would use AI in informal situations where there is not a high level of consequence for mistakes. I would not trust AI interpretation in courtrooms, I would not trust this in the legal system. I don’t know that I would trust it for situations that require metaphorical language, because they don’t catch the figurative meaning.

Walter Krochma: I wouldn’t rely on AI for interpretation in critical scenarios where decisions need to be made, like medical interactions or asylum cases.


In conclusion:


AI interpretation is incredibly useful for informal situations. It excels at processing large amounts of information quickly and can identify technical terms in many cases.

However, when it comes to situations with significant consequences, such as legal settings, medical interactions, or asylum cases, Artificial Intelligence cannot replace the expertise of professional interpreters. Their nuanced understanding of context, metaphorical language, and cultural sensitivities is indispensable.

So, while AI has its merits, professional interpreters remain irreplaceable in crucial and complex settings where human insight and expertise are vital.


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Pro Interpreters vs. AI Challenge: Who Translates Faster and Better? (WIRED)