TLC 2018 Translator Ex Machina – Human translation vs Machine Translation


This year at the Translation and Localization Conference we were presented with a huge amount of information about MT, the present and the future of the translation and localization industry.

Google, MS, and Amazon are advancing fast in MT development. But Amazon’s approach is the one focusing on helping translators and LSPs.

It will be a future full of challenges, but as the humans from the pre-industrial revolution, described by Charles Dickens’ novels, we will adapt to master the machines, or they will master us.

The presentations that interested us the most were:

  • How Money, Tech, and Booming Markets Shape the Future of the Language Services Industry. Presented by Florian Faes.
  • “When you stop growing you start dying”, William S. Burroughs – Future of the profession in an increasingly complex environment. What are the future options for human translator’s development? Presented by Iwona Bąk.
  • A Look at the Present and Future of Machine Translation. Presented by AI Expert DeepL, Dr. Jarosław Kutylowski, CTO of DeepL.
  • Hello Kettle – the Importance of the Audience’s Cultural Framework in Non-Technical Translation. Presented by Joanna Pawulska Saunders.
  • How to prepare for the upcoming market and technological changes? Debate moderated by Wojciech Froelich. In which representatives from the industry such as Florian Faes, Ellen Singer and Anne-Marie Colliander Lind, gave their opinion related to MT and the state of our industry.
  • Automating translation with memoQ. Presented by Marek Pawelec and Łukasz Rejter.
  • Ludus Ex Machina: The Quest for Technology in Game Localization. Presented by Carme Mangiron.
  • Mobile app localisation: tweaking the code. Presented by Dorota Pawlak.
  • It’s a freelancer’s world! Presented by Anne-Marie Colliander Lind, LocWorld.

Unfortunately, we cannot include all the information related to each of the presentations in this article. However, you are welcome to contact us if you are interested in getting more information about any of the presentations described above.

The most important from this event from our point of view

The profit in the industry is growing, but not for everyone, it grows faster for the ones who adapt to technology earlier.

The most imminent fragmentation of our trade will be LSPs and translators that will adapt and work with MT and those who don’t.

The MT is a technology that is here to stay. At the moment it is more useful for repetitive and technical content and for major language combinations, like FIGS & Dutch… The demand for MT Post editing will keep on growing.

The million-dollar question

What will happen to those that will refuse the rapidly growing MT world?

There will be LSPs and translators who will refuse to do Post editing or help in the development of MT, mainly of fear of the elimination of their income source (human translation). For these people there is hope, focusing on more difficult language combinations, like Asian or African languages, combinations in between Nordic languages (FI-DA, NO-FI, FI-SV, etc.), or specialising in Marketing, Transcreation, Literature, Subtitling, Video Games and any type of creative translation.

One of the last presentations included the advises from Anne-Marie Colliander Lind, an important member of the Translation Industry.

Anne-Marie TLC Warsaw 2018
Anne-Marie Colliander Lind at TLC Warsaw 2018.

Her most relevant tips were:

  • Keep up to date with trends.
  • This is the freelance workforce heaven.
  • Outsourcing is growing.
  • The increase of new translation ecosystems (like SmartCat) are enabling end clients to easily work with many freelance translators.
  • Co-working as a solution to share costs.
  • Networking is very important.
  • Keep good customer relations.
  • Be aware of wellness at work, do not work harder but smarter, do not mistreat or overwork your resources, it will bite you back.
  • Keep the human touch when dealing with customers.


More volume, faster turnaround, more languages, multilingualism, collaborate with clients, do not serve them unconditionally, limited resources create opportunities for tech and automatization, be aware of the fact that translators are limited, present solutions to client’s needs, be transparent, cut mediation, customers will keep on asking more, technology will lead to new relations.

LSPs pressure related to time and prices will keep on growing, clients will be more demanding.

How should we react to these trends?

Adjust and adapt, find the right customer, be visible, attend conferences and expos, but above all enjoy the work you do.

I must admit that the work and effort invested by the organisers in making the event attractive, enjoyable, informative and funny is remarkable. A big applause to them from everyone at Jensen Localization.

If you need a partner to adapt to the Translation Industry challenges, feel free to contact us.

United the future will be brighter.

United the future will be brigther
United in Warsaw by the TLC 2018.

Events, Machine Translation, Networking

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