Neural Machine Translation (NMT) - The Future of Translation?

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Any professional translator will tell you that technology is an important part of our daily work. Whether it's simply having an Internet connection to reference dictionaries to CAT tools (e.g., Wordfast) and translation memories, technology is essential to doing our job efficiently.

This article talks about neural machine translation (NMT), an innovation that I'd never heard of. Like most technology these days, it's advancing at a frenetic pace. We'll see how things develop and how it affects those of us in the translation industry.

From the article (you can read the full piece here):

"How does this apply to translation? In the past two to three years, several companies started using NNs for translation. The results of these efforts are staggering. Over this short period, the quality of NMT in some areas became human like, swiftly surpassing previous translation technologies.

Moreover, NMT systems continue to improve fast, thanks to:

  1. Increase in compute power because of: Exponential compute power improvements as described above
    1. More compute power allocated to these systems as they demonstrate great results
  2. More training material coming fromCrawling the web – source and translations available online
    1. Translation memories created by business customers
    2. Proactive translations done for training purposes
  3. The ability to provide human feedback on a massive scale, e.g.OHT is already running NMT rating and feedback projects (over a million projects to date) for NMT vendors / users.
    1. Facebook and Google encourage users to provide translation feedback, etc.

The important thing to understand is the rate of change. Previous technologies improved slowly because conventional software improvements depended on human developers. With NMT, the core technology can improve its processes quickly through additional compute power and input data that are easy to add."