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This morning I came across a striking statement of former president of China Mobile, it goes something like this,

After 4G enters the market, it might cause the diminishing of SI industry. I myself takes this as a somehow exageration. This argument is based on the speed improvement, which will avail the translation/ interpreting software sufficient time to react, still satisfying the customer's nearly real-time need.

I cannot judge, yet I know there is something, and more potential behind this technology advancement, either positive or negative. But what are they? Is it really destructive to SI industry, or actually it can become another useful tool?

Thanks for all your attention in advance.

asked 19 Dec '13, 20:42

Paris%20Si%20de%20Chine's gravatar image

Paris Si de ...

retagged 20 Dec '13, 07:56

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

Short answer from someone who works in tech most of the time - and has learned not to drink the Kool-Aid: None

4G is about bigger mobile pipes, that's all. Most of that extra bandwidth will be used for entertainment - Youtube, on-demand broadcasting, and primarily, porn. Of course, your Web-Ex experience on the go will be better, but that's a marginal use case.

Couldn't 4G be used for remote conferencing with interpreting? Technically, yes. But why should mobile 4G achieve a breakthrough when the same sort of bandwidth has been available for years on the fixed Internet?

Is there currently a platform for online conference interpreting with virtual booths, interpreter-to-interpreter and meeting organiser-to-interpreter out-of-band communication? No. Sure, many people, including some interpreters who frankly should know better, are over the moon about "disruptive" technologies. We've all seen a lot of announcements, even on this site, but I am yet to see -- and more importantly, listen to excerpts of -- even one single real-life example of a successful multilingual event where interpreters worked remotely in virtual teams.

More importantly still, how do you think the average interpreter will cope with the additional cognitive burden of managing a virtual booth in addition to interpreting? I work entirely remotely every day with fellow developers in the US, Eastern Europe and Asia, and I can tell you from experience that remote environments are difficult. You must go an extra mile to make communication very explicit, and that's between people who speak the same language and share the same domain expertise.

What we have now is some tech people pitching half-baked remote interpreting solutions in the hope of creating a market. That's how start-ups work. The tech and not so tech press is awash in posts written by paid bloggers whose only concern to is serve the cause of their paymasters. Sure they manage to drive some of the conversation. So now every second article about technology has the word "disruption" in large letters in every third paragraph. How exciting.

But you can't always create a new reality out of thin air. And my prediction is that there won't be any real traction for remote conference interpreting... until the big players -- that's the EU essentially -- invest in it and force their interpreters to play along.

Also, now that the whole world knows that every electronic communication in whichever form is tapped and stored for posterity for various purposes including economic espionage, do you think businesses and governments all over the world will conduct more, or less, online meetings with foreign counterparts?

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answered 20 Dec '13, 07:24

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck

edited 20 Dec '13, 07:37

Dear Vincent:

Thanks for your generous sharing of your insights. After careful reading of your answer, I found that SI is still so far away from laymen’s world, either the cognitive burden on interpreters, the current trend, the drive force for development, requirement for confidentiality, etc.

If any element above-mentioned is noticed, there won’t be such overstatement. :)

Best regards Paris Si

(22 Dec '13, 22:49) Paris Si de ...

Quoting the tremendous translation Google provided of the relevant passage of the article:

Cite a more specific example, say translations spoken. We now have a very good software, you speak Chinese, then the phone will say it is translated into English, which some of our people who do not know English very useful, very solve the problem. But now there is a problem, the speed was a bit slow, I say a word, you want to wait, because it has to pass back to the background to deal with. With 4G, in theory, can greatly accelerate the rate. If we determine that goal, then you can do basically the same speed with simultaneous interpretation. For our industry, if the unemployed do simultaneous interpretation, that we are too happy.

Basically, what the gentleman is saying is that with a larger bandwidth, people will be able to record their voice, send the file to an automated speech recognition & translation service provider and get a computerized voice interpret the sentence. That's nothing more than google translate for the too-lazy-to-type. It'll be great for people going to a grocery store in a foreign country who'll be faced with the problem of not knowing what ingredients are in the canned food they are buying. Or decyphering the menu in a restaurant. But that's pretty much all it could be used for now.

And while some might speak of simultaneous (i.e. automatic real time) translation, it has nothing to do with simultaneous (conference) interpreting as we understand it.

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answered 20 Dec '13, 19:16

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

edited 20 Dec '13, 19:17

Dear Gaspar: thanks a lot for your kind clarification. :) Paris

(22 Dec '13, 22:48) Paris Si de ...
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question asked: 19 Dec '13, 20:42

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