Human Interpreter Beats Translation Programs today reports on something we already knew - and it's great to have it verified.

Two women back to back


A face-off between auto-translation programs against a professional human interpreter on Tuesday ended in a resounding victory for the human race.

Proto-artificial intelligence -- essentially computer programs capable of "learning" -- have emerged victorious in contests against humans in chess, current affairs trivia, go and poker. But AI had still not evolved enough to surpass the linguistic and emotional intelligence of humans.

The contest, which was sponsored by Sejong Cyber University and the International Interpretation and Translation Association of Korea, aimed to gauge just how close auto-translate programs that learn from their errors have come to human translation skills.
Four professional translators faced off against Google Translate, Systran's translation program and Naver's papago app.

The challenge was not enormous. The Korean-to-English translation lifted an excerpt from the novel "Mothers and Daughters," and a newspaper column, while the English-to-Korean competition was of a newspaper column on Apple founder Steve Jobs and an article from Fox News.

Kwak Joong-chol at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, who handled the selection and judged the results, said, "We chose pieces of writing that had never been translated before and focused on assessing how smoothly the programs were able to comprehend the feel and metaphoric meaning of sentences."

Translators were given 50 minutes for each piece. Organizers claimed the pieces contained specialized terminology, which perhaps made conditions more favorable for AI.

But the computers flunked the test. While the humans scored on average 24 out of 30 points in the Korean-to-English challenge, the programs scored just eight to 13. And humans scored on average 25 points in English-to-Korean and the machines only nine to 15.


To order a 'human' translation - for when you really don't want it to sound like a translation - or a Machine translation with a human edit - when you just need to read something for reference, or us on 0114 470 1075 or click to email.

LanguageTalking Heads