Posted by: patenttranslator | January 11, 2019

Strange and Scary Thoughts Going Through My Head Always As a New Year Begins

Automobiles are a passing phenomenon. I believe in horses. Kaiser Wilhelm II, 1905.

It’s hard to predict the future when you live in the present and all you know is the past.

It’s so easy for us to laugh at Kaiser Wilhelm II now that two centuries later, 1.3 billion vehicles are driven on the roads and highways of this planet, some 64 million among them in Germany alone where the automobile is loved as a symbol of freedom at least as much as it is in the United States.

Yogi Berra said it best: “It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”

I don’t believe in horses when it comes to their usefulness to humans in the future. I admire these magnificent animals, but like everybody else, I know that after a few thousand years of faithful service to us, humans, they are now mostly good just for horse racing, historical films and corsage.

I believe in technology, partly because most of my working life of some four decades I have been making a pretty decent living by translating patents and documents about different technical subjects from various languages.

But technology is a double-edged sword. Our smart phones are now so smart that unless we make a lot of effort to prevent the government and greedy corporations from illegally spying on all of us all of the time, the people who have access to all kinds of data about us can easily find out anything and everything about us, including what kinds of thoughts are going through our heads and then use it against us.

It was Cardinal Richelieu who said almost three centuries ago: ” Qu’on me donne six lignes écrites de la main du plus honnête homme, j’y trouverai de quoi le faire pendre.” [If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.] How he would love to run a government and have access to thousands of lines written by each and every of man and women!

The “translation industry” has been trying for at least the last two decades to turn translators into nothing more human apps that can be installed, activated and deinstalled as needed. And to some extent, the industry has succeeded in doing just that because instead of fighting back, translators meekly accepted the new conditions that the “translation industry” created for the human apps by the impersonal and greedy design of the machinery created by the industry to maximize its profit.

I don’t think that the industry makes much of a distinction between an algorithm used by a computer program and a human translator. After all, both are just profit units.

In East Germany, the communist government was able to spy only on about every 18th person with the primitive technology available at the time, although it was much better technology than what Cardinal Richelieu was using in the 18th century. In the  countries of the modern world as it is set up now, everybody can be spied on with the help of modern technology all the time and there does not seem to be much that anyone can do about it, except to try to minimize the damage to ourselves by being aware of what is going on.

And even if we try to do that, it will be an uphill struggle.

Most people are probably not even aware of what happened to privacy anymore, or they simply gave up trying to reclaim their privacy and their rights as independent and free individuals.

There is no independence and there is no freedom without privacy.   

Here is another quote from Yogi Berra

            “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

The future does not look too good for translators, especially if they work for the “translation industry”. It is likely that in many respects, it will probably be worse than the past.

Technological progress has the power to liberate us, or to enslave us.

I believe in technological progress rather than in horses, but I think it will be more and more difficult for translators to make a decent living the way I and people my age who were translating for a living were able to do that for many decades.

Fortunately for me, I don’t have to work anymore, because I have found a formula to live quite comfortably off my savings and retirement income without having to worry about where the next job is going to come from and how to make ends meet if there are no jobs in the pipeline.

Regardless of what age you are, but especially if you are not that young anymore, you should probably find your own strategy and your own formula to achieve the same goal, or at least start working on it in the year 2019.



  1. Interesting slogans. And the search for new clients never ends…And I really love The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.

    Liked by 1 person

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