AI translation: how to train ‘the horses of enlightenment’

Translation algorithms have greatly improved in recent years, but can they work on literature? Human practitioners of the art are not convinced

‘Translators are stage horses of enlightenment,” the poet Alexander Pushkin wrote in the margin of one of his manuscripts. Two centuries later, the political scientist Steven Weber similarly compared translation to transportation: not of people and goods but of ideas and knowledge. Just as the world swapped horses for mechanical means of transport, multilingual communication has accelerated too – and now, with the use of AI tools, translation can happen faster than ever.

But faster doesn’t always mean better – the use of AI comes with various risks. This week the European parliament adopted the Artificial Intelligence Act, the world’s first comprehensive piece of AI legislation. It requires developers to be transparent about the data used to train their models, and to comply with EU copyright law.

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