The Pros and Cons of Artificial Intelligence in Translations
The Pros and Cons of Artificial Intelligence in Translations illustration
XTM Content Team
AuthorXTM Content Team
Reading time 5 minutes

The use of Artificial intelligence (AI) in the language industry has skyrocketed in the previous year or two. Quite simply, AI provides a more cost-effective and faster option for organizations to create and localize content. With the many recent advancements in AI technologies, organizations have new features falling on their laps on a regular basis that enable them to reach their customers faster and more cost-effectively. But while we keep learning about all the benefits of AI in the language industry, are there any downsides to it? Are there any issues we should know about? In this blog, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of AI in translations so you can have a clear picture of how AI fits into language, translations and localization and what issues you should be aware of.

Pros of AI in translations

#1 Speed

One of the main advantages of AI in language translation is that, unlike most machine-translation engines, it can generate human-like translations without any training, which is known as zero-shot learning. Most machine-translation engines can take months or even years to “learn” to produce MT content at a good standard, but LLMs require no training time and can produce it straight away. This means that companies can produce large volumes of quality MT content in very little time, which helps them enter new global markets more quickly.

#2 Cost-effectiveness

Another advantage of using AI in language translations is that it’s often less expensive than using human linguists due to human input focusing more on reviewing and post-editing AI-generated translations than in translating them. For organizations that have a smaller budget and high localization demand, AI can be a cost-effective way to get content localized on time and without spiraling costs.

Human linguists can focus on tasks that add value to the process, such as ensuring the content’s localized o point and using the correct tone, or that it’s legally compliant in each market. In summary, AI does the heavy lifting and human linguists provide the finishing touches so that content can be published in a fraction of the time it would take if humans worked in every step of the process.

Cons of AI in translations

#1 Lack of Cultural Nuances

Language and culture go hand in hand. Making your content resonate culturally is of paramount importance to a brand’s image in its global markets. Whilst AI may do a good job of localizing content culturally for the world’s main markets, it may not have the data patterns needed for smaller but by no means less important markets. For this reason, having a human linguist in these instances is necessary, since publishing culturally inappropriate content in one market can have a knock-on effect on the rest, especially in the day and age of social media in which news travels so fast with such long reach.

#2 Limited In Technical Domains

AI translation systems often face challenges when it comes to specialized domains like law or medicine, leading to translations that may be less precise or applicable in these specific fields. In these fields, in which content accuracy is so important, any mistake can prove to be costly, which is why having a human expert translate and/or review the content can prove to be quicker in the long run than having to go through a time-consuming post-editing task. Furthermore, providing an erroneous translation for sensitive content could cause serious damage to a brand’s revenue or reputation.

#3 Concerns with Privacy and Data Security

AI translation may process sensitive data, raising questions about potential privacy and data security. Since learning models take information from the internet, personal or sensitive information may be used. The lack of regulation right now means data could be shared without knowledge or acceptance. The topic of data protection and AI is one that has not been quite ironed out in the industry and still raises many questions and debate, as it’s one of the key issues that may have a big impact on the long-term viability of using AI to create and translate content in certain industries.

AI translation technology has certainly made many advancements in recent years, enabling the translation process to reach a new level of efficiency and speed. And while there are many advantages, there are also limitations. Nevertheless, organizations can explore the possibilities and take advantage of AI-powered technology in a way that fits their needs and goals—and knowing about its weaknesses will also help them use it more smartly and effectively.

Want to learn more about how AI technology can take your localization program to the next level?

We’d be delighted to help! Get in touch with us to discuss how your organization can make the most out of AI language technology, or watch our webinar on what the arrival of AI and GPT means for the present and future of language and localization.