AI Translation Software Lives in the Background of Your Everyday Life

January 28, 2022

It might sound dramatic, but AI is changing the way you live your life. And most times, you don’t even realize it’s there. AI is the powerful force behind self-driving cars, algorithms that suggest what you should buy on Amazon, and many of the smart devices scattered throughout your home.

AI-based translation software is similarly working its way into our everyday lives. It’s changing the way we consume content, how we travel , and how we interact with and buy products from our favorite brands. 

What is AI translation software?

Artificial intelligence is being used for everything from manufacturing to helping pilots fly planes. AI translation software specifically uses the power of Machine Learning to translate content from one language into another — or many others. 

Think about this article, for example. It was originally written in English but with the help of AI translation technology, the content can be seamlessly reproduced in Spanish, Mandarin, Bengali, and more, without a human translator stepping in to assist (though we still advocate for human-in-the-loop AI to solve the quality crisis in many machine-only translation services). With these translations in place, more readers around the world can access and understand the content. 

But that barely scratches the surface of AI translation technology’s impact on our lives. It’s being used in a variety of different applications and changing the face of many industries. 

Impacts on the entertainment industry

Gone are the days where your only foreign-language entertainment options were limited to what’s playing at the local theater. Thanks to YouTube, social media, and the rise of global streaming platforms like Netflix, anyone can access content that is created all over the world. And with AI, the quality of native translations of that content is improving rapidly. 

Recently, Netflix’s release of the Korean-language TV show, Squid Game, made headlines by using AI to approach dubbing in a new way. Instead of splicing in snippets from voice actors (which takes a very long time and often doesn’t integrate well with the visual content on screen), Squid Game used AI to translate the original actors’ voices into other languages. It’s a significantly faster process and results in a more authentic experience that better mirrors the content as originally intended. This more authentic approach to dubbing has driven Squid Game to the top of many viewers’ must-watch lists.

If more content creators opt to use AI in this way, we’ll see more content go global. Consumers will have more options for their viewing pleasure and studios will have the power to capitalize on a global audience base.

Unfortunately, this process is far from perfect. We’ve come a long way in using translation technologies to provide value and create opportunities for more global understanding. But, there are still gaps to overcome. Squid Game has been criticized for missing the mark on some cultural nuances in both it’s English dubbed and subtitled versions. While the AI dubbing process can quickly generate multilingual versions of the content, it still misses the mark in translating tone and the cultural meaning of certain words and phrases. At Unbabel, this is a piece of the translation puzzle that we work to improve every day. Our AI-based technology includes native-speaking humans in the translation process for this exact reason — so nuance is properly addressed and translated.

Machine translation in consumer technology

AI isn’t just making it easier to consume and enjoy entertainment content from around the world. It’s actually lifting language barriers that traditionally made it harder to travel and live in other countries as well. Tools like Google Translate’s instant camera translation app help travelers translate menus and road signs seamlessly, and companies like GetYourGuide use AI translation technology to help travelers book tours and experiences in their native language. Sure beats three months of Rosetta Stone lessons. 

How global businesses communicate with customers around the globe

For businesses, the ability to easily communicate across languages opens up huge opportunities for global growth. Did you ever stop to think about how that chatbot on your favorite retailer’s website works? Probably not. That’s AI at work. 

If you’re shopping with a retailer (or a hotel, airline, etc.) that’s largely based outside your home country, they may not employ customer service representatives who speak your language. Rather, they are relying on AI translation software to facilitate multilingual conversations. You may ask a question in French, which gets translated by AI software and directed to an English-speaking support agent, who then responds in English, before a machine jumps in again to translate that English response back to French before you see it. 

AI makes this a seamless and quick process. And it’s essential for global businesses today. After all, customers much prefer to buy from brands who speak their language.

Your world, machine translated

AI translation technology is changing the way we interact with the world around us and how we’re able to access products, services, entertainment sources, and people. The magic of AI is that it runs seamlessly in the background of our interactions. As we send a simple message to a support agent — AI translation software works tirelessly and invisibly to ensure that whoever is on the receiving end of that message clearly understands. 

Where do we go from here? Could machine translation allow us to communicate with animals, sync our thoughts via Elon Musk’s Neuralink, or something else entirely? 

Interested in learning more about Unbabel’s AI-powered machine translation? Request a demo.

About the Author

Profile Photo of Fabio Kepler
Fabio Kepler

Fabio Kepler is a senior research scientist at the fundamental AI team at Unbabel, leading and participating in projects for machine translation and Quality Estimation (QE), whose most recent outcomes were an open-source state-of-the-art framework for QE and the top rank on the WMT QE competition across all tasks. Prior to his current role, Fabio was a full-time professor for almost seven years at the Federal University of Pampa in Brazil, where among other things he created and became the first director of the university's Patent and Technology Transfer Office. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Sao Paulo (2010, with an interim period at the University of Pennsylvania), is the author of more than 50 scientific publications, and actively reviews for top NLP conferences.