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Human translation versus automatic translation

Is artificial intelligence better than human intelligence?

Technology is developing fast, and even faster every day. It’s like a huge snowball of human knowledge and technique: once you set it rolling, it gains weight and speed. Each discovery leads to the next one and they accumulate and potentiate each other. The result is a constantly increasing base of information and ways to process it and communicate it. Computers are becoming more complex and more capable of running different kinds of analysis. This means that they are becoming more similar to the human mind.

The typical sci-fi futuristic world includes robots and computers being as intelligent as -or even more intelligent than- human beings. They can think and talk and are often consulted by humans who want to make decisions. 

Now, would this be possible in the real world? Technology seems to be heading towards that kind of future, so scientists are starting to think about the human vs machine issue very seriously. Can a computer actually be smarter than a person? Can they make not only physical tasks, but also intellectual tasks better than humans?

The perspective of artificial intelligence taking over our mental work is both promising and threatening. On one hand, if we could develop an informatical system that goes beyond our minds, we could reach new levels of accuracy in decision-making and data processing. On the other hand, would machines make humans less and less important? Would they even take over the world -or at least, our jobs?

The uniqueness of human mind

 

Even if this is still a hot topic in the world of science and opinions are divided, many people think that machines can complement but not replace human thinking. In some aspects, computers are superior: they are faster than our minds and they can store a gigantic amount of information in miliseconds. However, human intelligence has capacities that computers have never mimicked properly. People have intuition, feelings, and a creative side that no computer can emulate, because by nature all they do is follow commands, they don’t create them. They lack the understanding and comprehension that people have naturally.

 

So, Are bots taking over the world? We don’t have a crystal ball to find out, but what we can assure that there are substancial differences between how bots work and how people work.

Language comprehension and translation

As we have said, machines can’t understand things. They can analyze information but they can’t comprehend it because they are not aware of its meaning, they just know the rules to process it. This applies to language and translations. When a human being wants to translate a text, she will use her grammar and vocabulary knowledge, but also her awareness of the meaning of the words and her capacity to detect mistakes and choose between possibilities. Languages are complex and have many levels of meaning, therefore translating sometimes becomes almost a case-by-case process. Unlike, machines can only match words with their -supposed- equivalent in another language and generate the grammar structures it’s been programmed with. But language has quibbling and subtleties, and the same word or phrase could be translated differently depending on the context. These are things that a machine can’t understand.

Of course, there are some cases where translation accuracy is more important than others. In example, if you are reading a text and want to have a rough idea of what it is all about, you can run a digital translator; the text will be inaccurate and have grammar oddities, but still you will be able to grasp its main idea. Now, if you want to translate, say, a legal text or a technical text, little differences in phrasing or word choices can change everything. There is no room for inaccuracies in these cases.

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