Machine Translation and Professional Human Translators; Which is the Better Option?

By  //  July 4, 2022

When speaking to investors or running a translation business, one must interact with people from many backgrounds. Regardless of where you live or who you speak to, it is clear that technology will eventually replace the translator. Or machine-based translation tools would replace translators working in life sciences translation services. 

This idea is not new. Humanity has dreamed for a long time of technological advances that would produce the metaphorical battering-ram with which to break the language barrier. The idea of using machines to translate was first proposed in 1947. Science fiction has long been believed that it is an inevitable result of technological advances. These dreamers are right to credit for making the idea of defibrillator, lab-grown meat, and space stations a reality.

Google, Microsoft, and other companies have made millions to automate online translation. Technology may make the translator obsolete, just as many other professions.

Professional Versus Consumer Translation

Language has become a problem in our increasingly interconnected world. Our daily lives are more filled with foreign languages than ever before. Videos from China and India are not uncommon. It’s also not unusual to learn Zoom lessons or classes from someone from another continent. Immigrant marriages are on the rise for decades.

The majority of consumer-level translation technology currently being developed is designed to address these needs. It helps to facilitate daily interactions between millions of people, and general understanding. This is where confusion begins between the technology and what qualified translators can do.

Skilled translation: More than Word Replacement

To compliment someone you don’t have to be fluent in English, but it is worth asking about the details of a complex legal case. Different tasks require different levels of complexity.

Google Translate and other machine-learning translation apps such as Google Translate are useful for basic cross-language communication, but they may not be sufficient for more complex business, legal, or health matters. In that scenario, you would definitely need the help of medical translation services.

Machines still have to overcome hurdles like scans, handwriting, and acronyms. Translation work required for civil or legal purposes is mainly done by parties who are legally able to do the translation.

Literal translation often fails to convey the correct meaning. Sometimes, it can even lead to disastrous or humorous results. This idea was tested in a medical academic setting in 2019. Google Translate correctly translated 92% of sentences. However, 2% of mistranslations could have caused severe harm to the patient.

After years of neural machine translation training from Google Translate, this test used an all-purpose pairing of English and Spanish. If you adopt less common pairings, mistakes will be more frequent.

This can only lead to a worsening of the gap for communities and minorities. Google Translate does not support many languages from Africa, including Oromo, which is a language spoken by approximately 34 million.

Even if computers could accurately translate the language word-for-word, it might still be insufficient. Even in simple conversations, language is complex.

Communicating with someone to achieve a purpose requires that you relate to them. Speechwriters, therapists, and salespeople spend many years perfecting their tone and word choices and creating a unique pattern of speech that suits their goals. Languages change, syntaxes change and machines will need “unlearn” proper usages in order to better suit an audience. Marketers understand that slang, memes, and humor are vital to everyday interactions. These are areas that machines won’t be able to duplicate or replace in the near future.

Machines do not yet have the ability to interpret medical texts accurately or to adjust an individual’s emotional pitch to a new context.

Translation Agencies Still Have a Chance

What steps can translation agencies take today to succeed in the midst of all the technological advancements? First, you need to move into fields that technology can’t replace. Diversifying your offerings will ensure that your business model is not affected by any new app. You can also focus your efforts on underserved markets. Millions of people are looking for professional language solutions or a professional translation agency in emerging markets all over the globe.

Indonesia, for example, is a top emerging country for 2020. It has nearly zero automated translation services and almost no effective ones. One reason for this is the fact that Indonesians speak a variety of languages. It could be a way to diversify income by becoming an integral part of the operation of local government agencies and businesses.

As we mentioned earlier, you can also consider moving into legal and medical services. Focusing on niche services will help you grow your business. Your organization will continue to offer vital services that will not be lost in the future by serving specific immigrant groups or offering specialized services like translations for USCIS and immigration requirements.


In this article, we discussed how technology has enabled the growth of translation services. But the important question that we tried to answer in this article was to examine whether machine translation software tools could overtake the jobs done by human translators. 

We have drawn the conclusion that content needs to sustain a human element in the localized content. And that element cannot be accomplished by machines. One needs the assistance of professional human translators that are working for medical translation services to create adaptable content.