One phrase keeps coming up in the comments section of my social media feed that I rarely saw before: “translation please.”
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has created an urgent demand for translations of articles, captions and video interviews.
Until now, machine translation has mostly been on-demand, a plug in on Web sites such as Facebook. But it rarely shows up because typically you don’t see content you cannot read.
The urgency of getting information about the war is changing that. Perhaps for the first time many of us are being delivered content in languages we don’t read, especially Ukrainian and Russian.
I expect the demand for translations from Ukraine will change the landscape. It will 1) raise awareness that there is way more content about everything than we can imagine 2) machine translation may not be perfect, but it is good enough to be valuable.
In the not-too-distant future machine translation will transform what and who we read. We will be as familiar with the best sources and writers around the world in a way that just doesn’t happen today.
Google, Amazon and Microsoft are the big cloud providers of machine translation, but there are scores of smaller firms innovating as well.