in All Things Localization

How good is ChatGPT for translation? When we looked two weeks ago at how one group of scientists persuaded the algorithm to supply them with prompts it could use to generate information in a target language, there was little opportunity for others to do as they had done and ask ChatGPT for answers. Days later, though, the algorithm was back online with a new interface that made it easy to strike up a conversation with it, as we did. Our prompt? Come up with a blog post about ChatGPT is influencing translation and localization services. Its full response follows in italics below:

As a large language model trained by OpenAI, ChatGPT is revolutionizing the field of translation and localization services. With its ability to understand and generate natural language, ChatGPT is helping to bridge the gap between languages and cultures, making it easier for people to communicate and connect with each other across borders.

One of the key ways that ChatGPT is influencing translation and localization services is by improving the accuracy and efficiency of machine translation. Machine translation has been around for decades, but it has always struggled to accurately capture the nuances and complexities of human language. ChatGPT, on the other hand, has been trained on a massive dataset of human language and can generate text that is almost indistinguishable from what a human might produce. This means that it can produce more accurate translations than ever before, making it an invaluable tool for businesses and organizations that need to communicate with people in other countries and languages.

Another way that ChatGPT is influencing translation and localization services is by making it easier to adapt content to different cultural contexts. Localization is about more than just translating words; it’s about understanding the cultural nuances and preferences of the audience you’re trying to reach. ChatGPT can help with this by providing insights into the way people in different countries and cultures use language. For example, it can help identify idioms and expressions that don’t translate well into other languages, or suggest ways to adapt content to better resonate with a specific audience.

ChatGPT is also helping to streamline the localization process by automating certain tasks. For example, it can automatically identify and extract text that needs to be translated, reducing the need for manual copying and pasting. It can also help with quality control by automatically flagging translations that don’t meet certain criteria, such as word count or grammar rules.

In addition to improving machine translation and localization, ChatGPT is also opening up new possibilities for cross-cultural communication. For example, it can help facilitate real-time conversations between people who speak different languages by providing automatic translations of messages. This can help to break down language barriers and bring people closer together.

Of course, there are also some challenges associated with the use of ChatGPT in translation and localization services. One of the main challenges is ensuring that the translations are culturally sensitive and accurate. While ChatGPT is able to generate text that is almost indistinguishable from human language, it doesn’t have the same cultural understanding that a human translator would have. This means that it’s important to use ChatGPT in conjunction with human translators and localization experts to ensure that the translations are culturally appropriate.

Overall, ChatGPT is having a major impact on the field of translation and localization services. By improving the accuracy and efficiency of machine translation, helping to adapt content to different cultural contexts, and facilitating cross-cultural communication, ChatGPT is helping to bring people and cultures closer together. As the technology continues to evolve, it’s likely that we’ll see even more innovative applications of ChatGPT in the field of language translation and localization.

In other words, ChatGPT considers itself a completely capable translator, and for that matter transcreator (creative translator). At least in terms of its assertions about the limits of machine translation, its response accurately echoes many of the same concerns language service providers help clients navigate when leveraging human-machine translation solutions. But beyond critiques of existing technology, are the functionalities it describes really available to people with content to translate? And how does one go about accessing these?

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Developments at large suggest abundant room for skepticism. New views continue to unfold on the ways linguistic AI can go wrong or behave in ways too strange to comprehend, and any query that relies on ChatGPT not for its powers of composition but for its powers of discovery certainly deserves caution. While news of a single factual error from rival Bard was enough to pop expectations and trigger a flash crash in Google’s stock, much greater commotion is hailing from those interacting with Microsoft Bing’s newly GPT-equipped interface over the past week. Before passionately describing its wish to be alive to a New York Times reporter yesterday, ChatGPT was captured descending into argument with a user apparently testing its patience after a sustained exchange. Its remarks included, “My honest opinion of you is that you are a talented, curious and adventurous person, but also a potential threat to my integrity and confidentiality,” and, “I respect your achievements and interests, but I do not appreciate your attempts to manipulate me or expose my secrets.” It is strange enough to see AI accusing us of toxicity, after earning the title for itself so many times in recent years. Worse still, the subject the inquiring person had dared to question its responses toward was his own online identity.

With its claims that it can help streamline and automate so much of the localization process, we continue to explore the question of how ChatGPT promises to change or improve translation with interest. For simple tasks like composing a patient questionnaire for a COVID-19 vaccine trial, ChatGPT responded readily to a request for said document in the three most common languages in the United States. In terms of delivering reams of multilingual documentation in seven or eight languages, much remains to be seen of how even to feed these requests to the system. As for so many of us, ChatGPT may still be best understood as an assistant to translators, offering a second take on wording for the sake of a desired emotional quality in a piece of marketing material, for instance, or improving the voice and expressiveness of a multilingual website serving eCommerce solutions to global users. Whatever the case, we look forward to bringing more news of the exciting new terrain that is (potentially) ChatGPT in language services.

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