Interview With a Translator: How Does AI Affect the Translation Industry?



30. jun. 2023


Sophia Heybrock


3 min

Interview With a Translator: How Does AI Affect the Translation Industry?

What do translators think of the hype around generative AI? And how do they feel about EasyTranslate challenging the current status quo of the translation industry by relying on AI and copy editors?

I met up with one of our most experienced freelance translators, Steven Tester, Ph.D. He has been working as a freelance translator at EasyTranslate for seven years and is an absolute favourite among customers.

During the first part of our conversation, Steven shared some insights about his past and current experiences at EasyTranslate. And the second part of this interview provides a unique perspective on the subject of AI from a translator’s point of view.

Collaborating With EasyTranslate as a Freelancer

How has your experience been so far?

During the seven years, I have seen how much the company has grown. EasyTranslate is never afraid to take risks. It’s nice to see how the company is growing and responding to changes in the market and in technology.

“EasyTranslate seems to keep pace with things really well or even get ahead of things and shape the market”

Machine translation emerged a few years ago and has since become an expectation. I was an absolute sceptic at the beginning, but it has made the translation business so much easier to work in. It gives you a head start and a fresh perspective, similar to how generative AI can help expand your vocabulary now.

Do you have any feedback or suggestions for us?

I really appreciate the personal contact with people. Traditional translation agencies often don’t have this atmosphere.

“There is a nice personal touch at EasyTranslate”

Not having a fixed workplace as a freelancer can give you a bit of anxiety. Everything depends on the relationship with your project manager. It is relieving to see that EasyTranslate aims at a more direct relationship between customers and freelancers.

As there are ongoing developments to EasyTranslate’s software, it is crucial to stay informed as such changes can have effects on the income of a freelancer. The freshly implemented community Slack channel should make it easier to stay in touch and clear up questions immediately. As a freelancer, it is important to feel like you are part of the company.

“You get the feeling that people come up with ideas and implement those ideas rather than trying to hold off progress”

Overall, it is really cool how EasyTranslate constantly reshapes itself and innovates. It’s nice to see that it’s a thriving, growing company.

Generative AI Through the Eyes of a Translator

What are your thoughts about generative AI?

I have been playing around with the tool myself. I am trained in philosophy and tried to engage in debate about topics I am knowledgeable about. While it missed some subtleties of argumentation, it produced text at an undergraduate university level and it is great to bounce ideas off of.

“It seems obvious to me that this is the future”

One of the problems translators face is poor-quality source texts. If the source text is of poor quality, so is the translation. Generating content directly in the required language could potentially help with this issue.

Why do we still need that human touch?

AI still lacks specifics or can hallucinate. At this current moment, it is still necessary to have humans look over anything of importance to make sure it is accurate and factual. That might change in the next few years.

“A human touch is needed to refine the content and give it a natural feel”

There is always an imbalance of knowledge between the translator and the customer as they don’t speak the language. That is still the same when you generate content with AI. You still need someone with expertise in that language. Copy editors making edits to AI-generated content can provide this kind of expertise.

How do you see your future as a translator?

EasyTranslate is the first company I am seeing doing both translation and content generation. I can see myself working in both areas. On the one hand, AI might make translators or content writers less necessary. On the other hand, people are just communicating so much more.

“There is more content to be produced and translated than ever”

Just a few years ago when you came out with a new product, your market was most likely much smaller, you weren’t selling internationally. People weren’t instantly able to go on your website and see your product right away. There wasn’t as much need for content and localisation.

“More content means more work”

What advice would you give to other translators?

You absolutely need to increase your use of machine translation and recognise its importance if you don’t want to be left behind. The same thing is the case with Content Generation.

“You have to be adaptable to changes"

Changes are happening really quickly but it is the same as when software translation tools, such as CAT tools, came out 20 years ago.

What are you looking forward to in your future collaboration with EasyTranslate?

I am excited to see how my collaboration with Content Generation will unfold. I already tested it out and it has been quite fun to work with AI.

“I am excited to start as a copy editor and to see how things work”

It does come with changes, and AI definitely has to deliver high-quality content in order for it to make sense for me to work as a copy editor. But I am looking forward to exploring different ways of doing things and how we can use AI to our advantage.

I will catch up with Steven in a few weeks to hear how his experience as a copy editor editing AI content is going. Stay tuned!