How is AI changing the translator’s evolving role?

Translator working from home

Artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML) continue to get a lot of hype. While successful AI use cases have arisen, most businesses still struggle to find the best ways to introduce automation with AI. In the case of language translation, a hybrid human-machine translation approach can help businesses address their customers’ needs in more personalized, regional or dialect-specific ways.

Multilingual customer service demands conversations that feel authentic. Human translators can review AI-enabled translations to provide that essential human touch that is still so critical to an optimal customer experience. They can also help navigate language nuances, ensuring a natural flow to conversations with accurate responses that reflect the local dialect. Through this combination of AI and human translation, customer satisfaction and brand loyalty improve when brands are perceived as authentic, which is vital for companies to grow and thrive.

Opportunities abound

Opportunities for translators who provide this essential service are plentiful and span a wide array of professions. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of interpreters and translators is projected to grow by 20 percent by 2029. At Unbabel, many translators can work a side job to earn extra income. Pursuing a “side hustle” is an ongoing trend for young adults that can have a lasting impact on their lives especially as we are transitioning out of a pandemic.

As we know, AI and ML capabilities have progressed at a rapid pace. Much like humans, machines are still learning and need human feedback to improve. Unbabel translators use a pragmatic approach to correct machine learning translations and, in turn, provide crucial contributions to the AI community at-large. The human feedback helps to improve AI’s algorithms. Different roles have  emerged to meet the demands of ML translation. For instance, human agents could help the AI learn updates in local dialects like Brazilian-Portuguese. These could be sent to a gaming company’s customer and, in the meantime, agents and work with an AI translation solution to apply these fixes to help the algorithm “learn” from mistakes in real time. This all contributes to these responses becoming as accurate and personalized as possible.

Translators can improve machine translation quality

Translators also have the opportunity to contribute by participating in AI translation research, often through open source projects. The updates of words and phrases created by the algorithm are shared with the community for further improvements. These translators  care about what Unbabel is doing because it helps their customers and the broader AI community.

AI has brought about new online communities within which translators can connect and collaborate. Particularly in a time when remote work has been so prominent and many employees are confined to their own homes. The Unbabel community of translators is a great example. Translators can learn from one another, laugh about the machines’ mistakes, and share learned experiences, along with challenges and successes in the spirit of improving together, just as they might do in-person at the office but remotely. Feedback from customers is also more readily shared to improve upon work and build new friendships.

In the future, translators and machines will become more copesthetic and will continue to evolve. Unbabel plays a vital role in the movement and remains at the forefront. We open new opportunities for freelance translators, encourage sharing insights with the broader community, and unite people in new and exciting ways.

Check out our blog to learn more about Unbabel’s innovative hybrid approach to multilingual translation shaping the way businesses do customer service.

About the Author

Camila PohlmannCamila Pohlmann is Head of Community Ops at Unbabel. Since 2017, Camila been leading the Community operations at  Unbabel. Our Community is a group of thousands of linguists, translators, language professionals, and dilettantes that ensure that the translations we deliver have the quality our customers expect.

Working from all across the world on our platform, they are the true power that Unbabel skilfully combines with proprietary world-class AI. Unbabel has raised $91M in funding and has over 200 employees across its Lisbon headquarters and offices in San Francisco, New York, and Pittsburgh. Leading brands like Facebook, Microsoft,, and easyJet use Unbabel to make their customers happier and their support operations vastly more efficient.

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