What’s The Deal With Translation AI?

There’s lots of talk about AI – in all facets of our everyday lives. So how does that play into translation – and what we do here at UNO Translations + Communications?

Old Dog, New Trick

Truth be told – AI, in the form of machine translation, has already impacted our industry for decades! The first iteration was Google Translate – and now AI tools, like ChatGPT are all the rage. People seem to love AI and machine translation for its sheer convenience. 

We know that computers were designed to identify patterns – and patterns in language are no different, in a way (we’ll dive into this).  Translation AI can quickly generate copy in just about any language found on the internet. BUT (and it’s a BIG but) solely relying on machine translation and programs like ChatGPT opens you up to egregious and embarrassing errors – that can be huge risks to take in the business world.  

Not to mention – ChatGPT specifically, wasn’t even developed as a translation tool!  When compared to other machine translation programs, it performs the lowest – and really only targets languages used most frequently on the world wide web (where it pools all its data from).  

So, what if I can’t afford to take this kind of risk?  Or I need a language that is less commonly used online?  What is the answer – and the plan of action?

Picture This 

Computers onboard common airliners are quite capable and handle most aspects of your flight independently. Take-off, identifying your flight path, avoiding air traffic and poor weather – even landing.  But do you really want to board your next flight – without a pilot? 


Like airliners, AI tech is quite similar. AI and machine translation tools are quite capable, but the outcome – without any kind of human touch is, well…unsettling. 

Computers alone miss colloquialisms, figures of speech, and cultural nuances that human translators always incorporate into their work.  Odd word choices – or worse yet, outrageous errors and offensive wording are in the realm of possibility, if you’re relying on AI translation alone.   

What We Know

Translation is as much of an art as it is a science – and we at UNO strongly believe that the answer lies in a balanced approachUNO relies on human translators who leverage technology to provide consistent, accurate, and culturally sensitive translations. Because a human is still at the helm, your specific audience – and their culture – guides final decisions, rather than statistics or algorithms.  It’s the best of both worlds.

Human Translation + CAT Tools

Professional human translators often use types of AI and machine translation to assist them within a project – which allows them to work as efficiently as possible.  

UNO translators utilize Computer Assisted Translation Tools (also known as CAT Tools).  CAT Tools allow translators to work inside a cloud-based platform that performs basic functions – like word count (which helps generate price estimates), and more sophisticated operations – like finding repeat wording and phrases (to ensure linguistic consistency within and across documents).  CAT Tools also build virtual glossaries of terms (called translation memories) that are used within and across documents – and can be shared with individual clients.  It’s powerful stuff!

When professional, human translators use CAT Tools, they ensure that your messaging is correct with cultural sensitivity captured and terms that are used consistently – while building customary glossaries automatically and decreasing their turn-around times.  It’s really impressive.  

The Plan

So, what’s the best plan of action? In our opinion – it’s continuing to rely on the human touch.  Right now, the winning combination is to partner with professional translators that are responsibly leveraging technology to provide linguistic consistency and cultural nuance – both accurately and effeciently.  Professional translators using CAT Tools are the not-so “secret sauce” in what we do.  

BUT let’s say you’re in a position where professional translation isn’t an option (aside: we’d argue that it’s ALWAYS an option).  You need to at least partner with a professional editor, in the target language, to review any copy generated via AI.  They’ll be your last line of defense – your safety net – to ensure that you’re not sharing anything problematic, offensive, litigious, or outrageous.  

Let’s Go

In a market full of computer-generated messaging – and some machine generated/AI translation – how are you going to stand out from the crowd?  Having a professional translator at the controls of modern technologies will protect the detail and nuance of your unique messaging.  By capturing your brand, narrative, and emotion – and translating it into the languages your customers and stakeholders speak, you’ll rise above the rest!

Lucky for you, UNO Translations + Communication partners with professional translators and editors who work in over 250 languages.  Let us help you add the human touch to your next project.  It’s as easy as sending an email – and we’ll take it from there.  How’s that for convenience?


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