In February of this year, Sejong Cyber University and the International Interpretation and Translation Association of Korea hosted a competition.  This involved AI translation programs verse professional human translators.

Four human translators were up against three of the more popular machine translation programs. These included Google Translate, Systran and Naver’s papago app.

Both translators and machines had four pieces to translate.  The score for each translation was based on accuracy, language expression and logic and organisation.

While the machines were much faster, delivering their translation in a few minutes the human translators took almost an hour to complete.  Yet humans have proved they have the competitive edge in translation despite the rapid growth of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

Google Tranlsate scored the best out of the three machine programs but it still only scored 28 out of a possible 60 points.  While Papago scored 17 and Systran scored 15.

Meanwhile the human translators scored much better with a high score of 49 out of 60.

Kwak Joong-chol of at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies said “The original texts were hard to translate for anyone. They have never been translated before, the four translators all have more than five years of experience. The AIs turned out to be no match as of yet.”  He also said AIs biggest weakness is not being able to revise their work.  Additionally 90% of the machine translations came back “grammatically awkward”

The bottom line is machine translation still has a long way to go before it canreplace a professional human translator.

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