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Archive by author: Arle LommelReturn

Senior Analyst

Focuses on language technology, artificial intelligence, translation quality, and overall economic factors impacting globalization

Sentient AI: Parrot, Parity, or Parody?

Last week, the Washington Post published an article about Blake Lemoine’s claim that his employer Google’s LaMDA language model/chatbot system had achieved sentience and had a “soul.” Lemoine, an engineer in the company’s responsible AI group, based his assertion on a dialogue in which LaMDA expressed human-seeming sentiments and concepts. Google placed Lemoine on leave, thereby sparking renewed discussion about what machine sentience is and what it means. What can the experience of the lan...
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Swiss Cheese and Customer Experience

In the late 19th century my great-grandfather, Otto, smuggled the culture for Gruyère cheese from Switzerland to the United States. Thinking about him reminds me of the “Swiss Cheese Model,” an approach to accident prevention that focuses on putting up multiple barriers that should collectively prevent major mishaps even if one or more of them has a hole in it. A similar “Reverse Swiss Cheese Model” applies to international customer experience. To see how, imagine an English-centric company ...
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MT as a Platform Service

Last August when I delivered the opening keynote at the MT Summit on “responsive MT,” one trend that I identified was the emergence of MT as a platform-level service provided by creators of enterprise ecosystems. Although this move has just started, it will be one of the biggest drivers for growth of language services in the coming years as it creates an expectation of ubiquitous multilingualism across a wide variety of services.
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Happy 30th Birthday, Unicode!

In October 1991, Unicode 1.0 was first released. In the 30 years since that publication an entire generation of language workers have been educated and started work, never having had to know the “joys” of trying to ungarble text that had gone through multiple encodings. The introduction of Unicode has simplified life for many of us and allowed millions and millions of people to access digital resources in their own languages.
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7 Steps to Ensure Japanese Linguistic Quality

So you want to be big in Japan? What does it take to promote your brand in the country and how can you avoid being seen as a sub-par performer in a market widely known for its expectations for excellence? The Japanese market is an attractive prospect for foreign companies. As of 2021, Japan accounts for 5.7% of the world’s online economic potential, despite having just 2.8% of the global Internet-connected population. This post describes seven steps you can take to ensure that your Japanese con...
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Recognizing a Pioneer in Language Teaching

Early in my career, my wife and I lived a few houses down from a truly extraordinary woman named Lorna Call Alder. Born in 1906, Lorna was the first person to develop a now-ubiquitous approach to foreign-language education that emphasizes the deliberate and careful introduction of vocabulary in context and repetition in use within instructional materials. Almost every translator today who has learned a language through formal education owes a small debt of gratitude to this humble woman, who pas...
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Responsive Machine Translation: The Next Frontier for MT

CSA Research’s recent survey-based examinations of machine translation deployment at language service providers, enterprises, government agencies, and among freelancers revealed an ever-widening engagement with the technology. Although it didn’t surprise us, we also found widespread skepticism of claims that MT has reached human parity with numerous calls in open-ended survey comments for “truth in advertising.” Just as significantly, we saw widespread desire for MT to be more suitable for t...
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What Does Talking to Whales Tell Us about Machine Translation?

Recent advances in machine translation (MT) have been truly astounding. Even if claims that the technology has reached parity with human translators are premature and an artifact of particular methods of evaluation, it is clear that the results are much more useful than they were even a few years ago. Now researchers are pursing approaches similar to MT to facilitate communication with animals. In April, National Geographic described Project CETI, an attempt to use the same fundamental technolog...
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Building a Comprehensive View of Machine Translation’s Potential

It is no secret that machine translation (MT) has gone from a relatively niche solution to seeming ubiquity in just a few short years. A forthcoming report from CSA Research on MT use at language services providers shows a 51% increase in adoption since 2019, with over two-thirds of LSPs now using it openly. Similarly, cloud TMS developers reported that 2020 was the year when the majority of segments that they process involved MT. To help develop a comprehensive view of the technology’s role in...
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Big Opportunities in Domestic Language Needs

Populations that do not speak the dominant language are often ignored in the United States and elsewhere, with the exception of certain regulated industries, such as insurance and healthcare. Of course, Spanish is the major non-English language in the U.S. If treated independently, it would be the world’s eleventh-most-significant tongue in economic terms, just behind Italian and just ahead of Dutch. An additional 12 languages spoken in the U.S. surpass at least one official EU language in popu...
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