The AI-to-Survive Delusion

I have written a few things about translator survival elsewhere, but here is my take on the recent AI hype among translators.

Professional freelance translators continue to be bombarded with suggestions that they should adopt AI themselves as a method of “adapting” to the new world of translation, the implication (and sometimes the avowed object) being survival as a translator. These include presentations at conferences run by translation organizations.

These promotions, of course, also come from people selling courses to learn how to use AI, but it is most worrying that these AI promotions are coming from translators who apparently think that adopting AI is going to save them.

It will not save them unless they have clients that don’t use AI. And just adopting AI will not get them clients when their agency translation clients finally dry up completely. The translation business under the control of translation brokers is already well on the way to that situation.

The survival-by-AI belief is a delusion. The days of people who believe that delusion are seriously numbered unless they wake up what is happening around them and figure out what else they need to do and can do to survive.

You need to sell your services to clients who need professional translation and will not use AI. That points clearly away from agencies and toward translation consumers.

If that is not an option, you can simply quietly wait for the end to arrive. But before you decide to go out to sell your services (having a website or registering with various hamster-wheel platforms is not selling), honestly assess whether you have what it takes to acquire clients needing professional services and make a decision based on that assessment.

That assessment of feasibility will be affected by numerous factors that have nothing to do with your translation skills. Some are linked to personal preferences, some to skills other than translation, and some to life decisions you might have made long before the giant tech companies brought the world AI.

Coming to your neighborhood soon, and it has reached the neighborhoods of some colleagues already.