Posted by: patenttranslator | December 4, 2014

Artificial Intelligence Could Spell Doom for Human Translators and Other Mostly Useless Professions

 

Advances of artificial intelligence have completely transformed the world right in front of our eyes within a mere couple of decades, an equivalent of a blink of an eye in the context of the entire duration of human civilization.

It is common knowledge that just like computers connected to ATM machines replaced most human bank tellers, Google Translate and other machine translation programs will within the next few years completely obliterate the profession of most if not all human translators. At this point it may still be sometime difficult to figure out what a machine translated text in fact means, and sometime it may make no sense at all. But these minor software glitches, often referred to as “relatively minor kinks” by machine translation apostles and evangelists who are selling packages of trainable machine translation programs at very reasonable prices, will soon be history.

Let’s face it, since unlike human intelligence, artificial intelligence is virtually unlimited, we are living in the twilight of human translation. Soon, everything will be translated by an affordable software package equipped with the best algorithm in its silicon entrails.

After all, translation is only a fairly straightforward transposition of words and numbers arranged in human speech or written on paper or on another medium from one language into another. What could be so complicated about that when small but extremely powerful computers are so inexpensive now?

Everybody knows by now that human translators are on the way out. It is inevitable that just like dinosaurs suddenly vanished from the surface of the earth as a result of dramatic changes in weather patterns, human translators too will soon die out as a result of revolutionary changes in the processing speed and memory capacity of highly capable computers.

What some people may not realize is that the occupation of a human translator is not the only one that is facing extinction as a result of incredible advances of technology due to the unstoppable progress in the area of computing technology. Many other occupations will be swept away forever by the tide of advanced information processing, not only the lowly human translator.

Here are only a few of them that first come to mind.

1. Politicians

If we replace the 435 politicians in the US House of Representative and 100 politicians in the US Senate with a few powerful computers that will be making decisions based on existing laws stored with preprogrammed decision alternatives fed into in a few high-performance computers, the only people who will notice that something has changed in the US of A will be thousands of lobbyists who will all of a sudden be out of a job.

Since the speeches that these politicians make are mostly based on falsehoods anyway, we could program a few computers to make essentially identical speeches, as well as voting decisions for formal approval of laws and the like. It would be in fact much easier to design a computer program for these operations than using computers for machine translation. Although the same processing of words by machines would be required, everything would stay in just one language.

Of course, for the new politician-less system to work, in the absence of politicians we would still have to figure out how to let Wall Street and big corporations transfer huge amounts of money to a new type of decision makers to make sure that they get their way every single time. I am not quite sure how to go about that. But I believe that this is only a minor kink that can be easily taken care of.

We could still maintain some of the jobs for some of the politicians, for instance the job of a president and vice president. You need a few people like that around in case one of them is needed for important presidential acts such as to start another war, to keep justifying existing ones, or to be sent to a funeral of another president, pardon the Thanksgiving turkey and other important functions.

2. Teachers

Many human teachers have already been replaced by courses that you and I can take for a moderate fee online without the unwarranted intervention of a necessarily biased human educator. Some of these online courses are already being offered by famous and trusted universities and they already seem to be very popular among the general populace, as well as a very healthy source of revenue for universities, especially since unlike when running a real school with human teachers, the investments required for the infrastructure of online courses are minimal.

As most education is these days in any case based on standardized tests, the results of these tests, already mostly prepared with the help of computer programs, can be easily processed and evaluated by computer programs to minimize the need for human teachers. The money that will be saved in this manner on teacher salaries can then be reinvested in even more powerful educational hardware and software technology.

Some human teachers will probably retain their positions because a certain degree of human control over the computer-processed data corpus may still be required for a period of time. However, just like with human post-processing of machine-translated data, post-processing of data stored in a fully computerized system by humans should be required only for a relatively short period while transitioning to a fully automated educational system.

3. Judges

While different procedures are used in different countries, in my country of residence (USA), judges already make decisions largely based on mandatory procedures which must be without fail applied to each individual case since otherwise the judge will be fired. The programs for these mandatory procedures could be easily accessed by a few human judges who would be in charge of post-processing of the corpus of data in a fully computerized system made available for court decisions, sentencing, and the like.

What is the point of asking “a jury of one’s peers” to determine the guilt or innocence of an individual accused of crime or a misdemeanor when the same result can be achieved at a much lower cost if the corpus of data describing in detail each case can be easily processed by a computer operator (a post-processing judge or court clerk) since all the data is already stored somewhere in a computer.

Naturally, to retain a certain measure of human control over the judicial and penal system, all sentences, pardons, amnesties and the like would still need to be approved by a few remaining human judges who would be in charge of final post-processing of the entire corpus of the data available in the simplified and much more efficient judicial system.

4. Private Equity and Investment Managers

Since high-speed transactions of traders on Wall Street are already almost fully computerized, all that is needed now is to take the word “almost” out of the sentence. Nobody will even notice that something has changed. Sophisticated software developed for financial transactions is already monitoring and tracking each and every transaction based on algorithms that are used by traders similarly to the manner in which machine translation algorithms are used for processing of texts that are translated between different languages.

It goes without saying that a few people whose existence and presence is vital for proper functioning of the system, such as bank presidents and vice presidents, would keep their jobs. They would be made the ultimate post-processors of the corpus of financial data and since more profit would thus be left for them once all redundant banking personnel has been fired, full computerization of the banking system is more than likely to meet with enthusiastic approval of the CEOs among the giants of the banking industry.

5. Fiction Writers

What is fiction writing based on? Well, it is based on fiction, of course, rather than on facts. We all have experienced really interesting but usually pretty crazy dreams that would make excellent material for a plot of a mystery novel that could be written by a master storyteller like Dean Koontz, or a romance novel that could be written by Daniel Steel, or an erotic novel that could be written by Anaïs Nin or Anonymous.

The crazy parts of our dreams are due to the fact that while our rational, coldly calculating brain is asleep, or shut off, if you will, when we sleep, the unpredictably irrational part of our brain is put in charge of our thinking when we dream during the REM (rapid eye movements) sleep.

Since all of the data of fiction novels is already stored on computers as more and more books are being sold online in the form of digital files for electronic book readers rather than as books on paper, replacing human writers by computers processing and combining plots and data from different models – and different genres – is only a logical and in fact inevitable next step in the development of book publishing in the near future.

Just like machine translation is already sold at different price points today, so that it is free or almost free for documents that are translated only with a machine, or available at a reasonable cost if the machine-translated material is further post-processed by a human translator, several levels of literature that will soon be based on dedicated computerized systems can be applied to writing of novels in a much more effective and much less expensive manner than when human writers were used in the publishing industry for this purpose, and this literature can then be made available in the same manner on Amazon and other mass-consumption outlets.

Although most human writers of mystery and suspense novels, romance novels, etc., would find themselves out of job, some of them could still be taught new, useful skills, retrained and turned into post-processors and aggregators of the corpus of literary data that these post-processors and aggregators could then be combining with plots written by human writers and computer robots in each of the different genres.

The results should be very interesting to say the least, at least as interesting as the results of machine translated texts that are in the final stage edited by human post-processors in a certain segment of the modern form of translation industry.

The above list of professions that can be easily modernized and restructured on a computerized platform in this manner, similarly to the translating profession, is meant to indicate only the most obvious examples of professions that are likely to be made partially or fully redundant by advances in artificial intelligence in the next few years.

Many other professions will ultimately also disappear as a result of inevitable technological progress, although some positions will fortunately still be available in each of these dying professions for human post-processors of fully computerized data.

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Responses

  1. Why not go the whole hog? What are humans needed for anyway in this brave new d.i.g.i.t.a.l. world? Computers could, of course, also take over the procreation function of human parents, but why should they bother?

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  2. @ Victor

    Thank you for your suggestion.

    An interesting proposition, but I don’t think it is at this point technologically feasible.

    But a sophisticated, highly computerized system that could be put in charge of the procreation function of human parents to control it is of course eminently feasible.

    The main reasons why the procreation regulating system did not work well in China in the fifties, sixties and seventies is the fact that they did not have enough computers yet when they tried to implement it.

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    • You write “I don’t think it is at this point technologically feasible”. Not feasible? That’s what they used to say about translation back in the bad old days, before our TAUS-masters told us what’s what.
      I confidently predict that human sex will be phased out over the next ten years and that all new humans will be computer-generated.

      P.S. for those who don’t get my weird British sub-text (it has happened before): that was meant to be a joke. Let your computers know, too, otherwise they will banish me for betraying their little secret.

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  3. I’m sorry, there will still be a need for lobbyist. There will be an app for that on everyones I-phone 18. Us humans will need some sort if intermediary between us and “The System”
    Otherwise the Utopia you just described sounds quite nice. I could then focus my attention on Space travel, bravely discovering new worlds and new civilizations. Either that or time travel. There is this one thing I did to a kid on the bus that I still kind of regret.

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  4. @Jeff

    I agree. I probably made a mistake there.

    The question is, who will get the money if most politicians are no longer available for this important political function?

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    • The owner of the App. patent would get all the money.

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  5. I like category #1… I’d be sorry for teachers, judges and fiction writers.

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  6. @ Nadine

    This irrational animosity towards politicians in just about every country (I think you live in France) is something that I frankly can’t understand.

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    • Irrational? Not so sure, and yes I live in France… 🙂

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  7. @ Victor

    I seem to remember that as a teenager I read a novel written on this subject by a British author in the thirties by the name of Aldous Huxley … what was it called …. Brave New World.

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  8. An interesting article on translation: http://homeworktranslationjobs.com/WP/how-to-provide-a-perfect-translation/

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  9. We can also get rid of the bankers and CEO, as long as *someone* can enjoy the profits of corporations. What if… what if we can make robots that are capable of immense enjoyment? Imagine one super-computer that ‘truly enjoys itself’ – with such a degree of enjoyment, that from a utilitarian viewpoint, the combined enjoyment of the human species fades in comparison.

    So, in this case we could simply outsource dopamine reactions to our new robot overlords, and we could then die in peace in a post-post-industrial society where robots have already enslaved us and are growing us in a field (credit to The Matrix). That would be the ultimate sacrifice for the benefit of our coming Robotopia! I, for one, would like to become clean energy!

    Dumbing Us Down (by John Taylor Gatto) reveals the deadening heart of compulsory state schooling: assumptions and structures that stamp out the self-knowledge, curiosity, concentration and solitude essential to learning. Between schooling and television, our children have precious little time to learn for themselves about the community they live in, or the lives they might lead. Instead, they are schooled to merely obey orders and become smoothly functioning cogs in the industrial machine.

    On the other hand: Without the industrial revolution and this brave new world we are living in, I would be plowing a field now or virtually freezing to death in a fishing boat.

    Liked by 1 person


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