Does the Job of the Translator Have Its Days Counted?

The debate over the advance of industrialization to the detriment of manual work dates back at least to the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. It’s a debate that, in keeping with the steep rate of the progress, has become increasingly relevant and current. The European realist painters of the late 19th century raised the cry following the advent of photography, out of fear that the new technique of representation would negatively affect their workflow. The same thing happened with countless jobs which saw their ranks dwindle faced with the unstoppable drive of industrial development. However, this phenomenon seemed to take a new and unexpected turn when industrialization began to have an impact on activities of an intellectual order.

Those who take on the task of writing the history of artificial intelligence identify the work of Alan Turing as a sort of cornerstone that cleared the way for a physical device to perform any formally defined computation. IT, as applied to the field of translation, is comprised of various fronts in which technological advancement has been more than amply evidenced. In a previous post we briefly touched on the issue of how technological advances positively affected access to reference material at the same time that it freed content dissemination entities from the limitations inherent in the material nature thereof.

These days it’s easy to access a translation thanks to various internet companies that offer virtual translation systems. Is this a sign that the work of translators as we’ve come to know them has its days counted? The current state of the translation industry is making it clear that the margins are a bit wider when dealing with computer-assisted translations. But, what are the chances that a program will ever be able to translate a poem well?