Word of the Week – Artificial Intelligence
In the summer of 1956 Dwight Eisenhower was still in his first term as US President, Berlin was divided into four different zones but didn’t yet have a wall, Elvis Presley was making his first appearance in the Billboard 100 chart and the language and scope of computer science was about to undergo a fundamental change.
The 1956 Dartmouth Artificial Intelligence conference, a two-month summit in New Hampshire, marked the birth of AI as a field of study. A new level of potential was recognised for information technology, and it started us on the path towards machines being able to imitate human intelligence in visual perception, speech recognition and logical decision-making. And, of course, in translation between languages.
If you’re reading this article on a smartphone, you may be taking advantage of artificial intelligence that powers your voice-enabled assistant or adds your Snapchat filters. AI – the mimicking of human reasoning by a machine – is delivering a more personalized, more human experience.
It’s suggesting new viewing experiences for you on YouTube or Netflix. It’s planning a pre-made playlist on Spotify. And if you’re a language service professional, it’s putting in the “hard yards” to make your life a whole lot easier.
The most sophisticated AI neural networks have similarities with the networks in the human brain. In each case, information is received and transmitted. The more sophisticated the network, the more accurate the data it produces.
There are 86 billion neurons in the human brain, offering nuance and ingenuity unmatched by machines. So AI in translation doesn’t replace the linguist or the project manager. It automates repetitive tasks, enabling them to use that nuance and ingenuity for maximum benefit. It saves the time and cost of linguists researching terminology, companies and sectors for multilingual glossaries and style guides. It frees up time in ways that would have been unimaginable a few short years ago.
We’re lucky that the computer scientists of the 1950s had the foresight to lead the way in AI development. If we go back another half a century, we’ll find a less enlightened approach. In the year 1900, the British Government seriously considered closing the Patent Office. They believed everything worth inventing had already been invented. Those of us who’ve travelled by plane or car, sat in front of a TV or cinema screen or even changed gears on a bicycle must be glad that we didn’t put a lid on human invention while Queen Victoria was still on the British throne. And those of us who are lucky enough to work with cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence are excited to see where it will take us next.
Next week, we’ll be discussing the fascinating advances in Multilingual AI, NLP and Applied Machine Learning as part of the GlobalSaké ParlamINT series. Join XTM International Digital Content and Partnership Manager Dave Ruane, Linguistic AI Expert Rafal Jaworski and many more industry thought leaders on June 3rd from 9-11am PST.