Compared to other industries, technology has made a modest impact on interpreting. There have been incremental improvements over the last decades, but claiming that technology has transformed the profession would be an exaggeration. That being said, the latest technological wave washing over the industry does seem like it’s going to leave an irreversible mark on the lives of many interpreters.
Before we get into the latest technological trends, let’s first explore at what point technology first started changing interpreting. The first technological breakthrough was the introduction of wired systems for speech transmission, which led to the rise of simultaneous interpreting. This technology, designed by IBM, acquired broader visibility during the Nuremberg trials after WWII, and was later adopted by all international organizations.
The second breakthrough was obvious: the internet. The internet primarily changed the way interpreters acquired information. As preparation is a fundamental part of interpreting, the internet helps interpreters effectively find translations for specialized terms, and find more background information on specific subject matters. Now, of course, the internet also allows the interpreter and the customer to get directly in touch.
Aside from obvious technological advances such as wired speech transmission and the internet, there are also many tools that have been specifically built for interpreters. CAT (Computer Aided Interpreting) tools, often terminology tools such as InterpretBank help interpreters organize their glossaries and now these terminology tools often have voice recognition so it can suggest translations in real time. Many of these tools have also integrated Google AI in an attempt to improve live translation suggestions.
The technology supporting remote interpreting has made great strides as well. Not only have video messaging applications gotten a lot better, but many interpreter management platforms such as Interpreter Intelligence now support VRI (Video Remote Interpreting) within their platforms as well. It is fair to say that all these technological advancements have made the access to interpreters much easier, which means the access to interpreters that speak rare languages has gotten easier as well. As a result, public organizations can, through this latest technological wave, boast a much more inclusive language policy, only if politics do not interfere of course.
What do you think the next big thing in interpreting will be? Feel free to let us know!