Today, artificial intelligence (AI) technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate – yet when it comes to consistently accurate language translation, glitches and errors still reign supreme.

Why is this?

Despite digital technology making global connections more instantaneous than ever before, language remains a barrier – and this particularly affects the world of marketing and business.

Solutions such as Google Translate are in constant use. But even as these tools advance – Google’s technology is now able to consider the entirety of a sentence, as opposed to merely translating individual words – they’re still not good enough for legal and financial purposes.

The reason is that in order for effective machine learning to take place, the AI technology needs a scenario where there are fixed rules and clear-cut measures of success or failure – such as a game of chess.

Michael Housman, Chief Data Science Officer at RapportBoost.AI, notes that machines were able to beat the best human chess player faster than anyone anticipated due primarily to the fact that the game has a very clear set of rules and a limited set of moves.

“Language is almost the opposite of that,” said Housman. “There aren’t as clearly-cut and defined rules. The conversation can go in an infinite number of different directions. And then of course, you need labelled data. You need to tell the machine to do it right or wrong.”

It is for this very reason that consistently accurate language translation still eludes AI. As Dr. Jorge Majfud, Associate Professor of Spanish, Latin American Literature, and International Studies at Jacksonville University, puts it: “The problem is that considering the ‘entire’ sentence is still not enough. The same way the meaning of a word depends on the rest of the sentence (more in English than in Spanish), the meaning of a sentence depends on the rest of the paragraph and the rest of the text, as the meaning of a text depends on a larger context called culture, speaker intentions, etc.”

Cultures, gender and even age put up barriers to accurate and consistent AI language translation, and, as such, an over-reliance on technology today will only lead to embarrassing errors which can have all sorts of political and legal consequences.

At Magna Carta Translation, we have decades of experience offering human translation services to legal and financial firms all over the globe. If you want to make sure your message is translated with absolute accuracy, get in touch with us today.