Podcast: interview with Hassan Sawaf, Chief Scientist for SAIC Linguistics, on Machine Translation and the future of human translators 4

Here’s a new ProZ.com podcast (see announcement).

Machine translation (MT) technology is advancing at a rapid rate and this is a concern for many freelance translators. So this week I had the chance to talk to Hassan Sawaf, Chief Scientist for SAIC Linguistics, to learn what the future holds for freelance translators in his opinion.

You can listen to the interview here.

Interview highlights:

  • Have you ever wondered what the future holds for freelance translators and whether  Machine Translation will ever be able to replace human translators completely?
  • Are you unsure of how freelance translators can best use Machine Translation in their businesses?
  • Do you ever think about the challenges and dynamics of computational linguistics, and the future of the industry?

Listen to the interview and find out what is Hassan’s take on these subjects.

You can follow Hassan Sawaf on Twitter here.

I hope you like this interview.

If you have any suggestions for possible themes for upcoming podcasts you can send them to romina at proz.com or via Twitter @ProZcom.

To listen to previous podcasts, check the podcasts tab in this blog.

Thanks for listening!


Further reading:

SAIC Throws Down the Gauntlet for Hybrid MT


  1. Thank you, Romina, for an excellent interview. Hassan provides a very important view on one of the most important topics for our profession: kind of our survival as a species. For me, there are several important conclusions. One, that no matter how fast the technology may develop machine translation, translators and interpreters will still be needed. My spinoff to this would be, yes, we will be needed, IF we adapt to the NEW needs. This means that there will be no need for the mechanical part of translation, i.e., the initial conversion of “words” or “terms” from a source language into “words” or “terms” in a target language. Moreover, I agree with Hassan when he says that there are many “domains” where machine translation – as its quality is improved – will be able to totally replace translators (short business messages and repetitive content information). However, the translator/interpreter will continue to be needed to “make sense” of this mechanically translated input in certain areas of human endeavor. Hassan mentions marketing as an example, where the “content” of the ideas behind the words is what really needs translation, and machine translation is not yet capable of translating content and underlying nuances. Hassan also mentions the very important issue of the permanent nature of change in language and how any machine needs the human input to be able to “learn” about the changing meaning of words in context. Very interesting and uplifting article by someone who has serious knowledge on the topic. Thank you.


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