sageata articol sageata articol

We had a human translator and the bot from ChatGPT take the ultimate language test


human translator

While Roxana is as human as possible, and sometimes a bit too incredible for us to handle, her rival in this test is as inhuman as they get nowadays. A bot. A programming code with no feelings, no reactions in any situation, just a pleasing doer. Why would you test two very different entities head to head? Because we want to finally solve the equation of who’s better, the AI or the translator. Is AI more knowledgeable than a linguist with 20 years of experience?

Six months before…

The war between the human translator and ChatGPT is reaching new heights. The debate is now even more inviting than it was a few months back. At the beginning of 2023 we wrote about the “threat” AI poses to translations. There were mixed opinions on the matter back then. Some said translators will be gone in a few months because of this AI, hidden somewhere on a server in a dusty warehouse. At the same time, others were convinced translators are here to stay.

In reality, nothing truly happened since the article was published… except for one little thing. More precisely, the debate is now heftier than ever. The world continues to wonder if the machine will take over translations or not, as well as over any other professional who can provide online services. Translators say they’re not worried about it so far. At the same time, AI experts are stating their beliefs, telling us that, in a few years, translators will cease to exist on this old, pale blue dot.

Translators vs. ChatGPT today

It’s time to dive a little deeper into the matter. Figuring out what’s fact and what’s gossip. Distinguishing between truth and imagination. ChatGPT is an AI bot made to act like a search engine on steroids. You can ask it any question and it will reply momentarily, no matter how complex it might be. Besides questions, ChatGPT can do things that are much more demanding.

For example, the bot can translate content from one language to another no matter the language combo you need. Unlike Google Translate, you write a request in the bot’s chatbox, without needing to select the source and target languages. You may write ”translate the following email from Romanian into English”, should you need this combo.

All that’s left to do is for you to add the text you need translated and then hit “Enter”. In a matter of seconds, the software will come back with a usable, albeit not ideal, translation of your email, from Romanian to English, which needs no further intervention on your part. If it were to require edits, those would be up to 5% of the regular effort necessary for performing of a full translation.

The Marketing Email Test

An email may not be the most demanding test we could’ve presented to an AI bot like ChatGPT, or a top human translator. Yet, to establish once and for all if AI is better than humans, we came up with a marketing email test. Muhaha! We prepared the boxing ring and put both ChatGPT and one of our top translators in the arena. In the left corner, the faceless linguist, the AI… ChatGPT!

human translator

In the right corner, Roxana Brown, our New York-based translator, always ready to help you. Even if it’s 12 AM on a Friday night. Roxana is one of the most talented English translators we’ve ever worked with. What are the rules of this battle? There are no rules. We only asked for the translation into English for the following email we wish to send out.

„Dragă NUME,

Îți scriem acest email pentru a te informa că firma noastră va trimite, în fiecare lună, pe data de 15, un newsletter despre lumea traducerilor și nu numai.

Vom include informații despre articolul principal al lunii de pe blog, dar și despre ce facem la agenție, noutăți din lumea limbilor străine, linkuri utile și altele. Te-am abonat automat la lista de emailuri însă dacă vrei să nu primești scrisoarea noastră virtuală (și să te considerăm antisocial) ne poți scrie și de îndată vom remedia situația.

Cu speranța că nu ne vei scoate din căsuța ta de email (sau raporta la autoritățile GDPR) îți urăm o zi plăcută și sperăm să îți placă noua noastră găselniță pentru branding, comunicare, marketing și noutăți despre noi și traduceri.

Cele bune să se-adune!”

ChatGPT vs. Roxana

Roxana told us she didn’t cheat. She preferred not to look at the translation ChatGPT would perform before doing her own version. Obviously, Roxana is a human translator and, although we know she did not cheat, others might. Often people say they performed a task, but in reality, they used translation programs to deliver it. Yet if we’re to talk about correctness, ChatGPT is a loser by default, and a sore one.

Artificial intelligence gets “inspiration” from millions of online searches on the web or databases, in order to “create” a good-enough translation. ChatGPT does nothing by itself than “borrowing” material from other online entities. It reads and implements, simply because it has no human consciousness, being just a code that does what it’s being asked. Not what it would be right to do.

Over the past few months, humanity’s main concern wasn’t on ChatGPT taking over their jobs. It was more on how this AI bot, as well as others like it, are simply stealing the work of us all, as well as personal data, just so that they can act as if they’re more intelligent than us. Italy, especially for the data-stealing part, banned ChatGPT until it finds a better way to create things.

The winner?

ChatGPT is faster but not really, as Italians would put it, “vero”. Roxana asked for more time than just a few seconds, but her translation was good to go. There was no need for any further intervention from us. At the same time, Roxana’s translation is better localized, as in, it sounds better for our target audience receiving the marketing email by just being more fun, and realistic.

In conclusion, at least for now, artificial intelligence can’t replace the human translator. In fact, we can safely say it won’t do this for at least a few years from now. For the time being, man and machine can work together to reach the final goal of a task faster and easier. The absence of one of them from the translation process may lead to delays and a slower workflow… but not much else.