This post was written by Sonyia Williams, Los Alamos World Institute Intern
Throughout this series of articles, we have explored the new efficiency of translation through the use of mechanical translators and how they have changed the world of translation. We also analyzed the growing use of electronic communication. Electronic communication has allowed individuals to communicate throughout their community, throughout their state, throughout their country, and even throughout the world with the click of a few buttons. This extremely innovative form of technology has allowed the human race to achieve so many things that range from tasks as simple as sending a text to astounding accomplishments like communicating with a Mars Rover from 54.6 kilometers away.
However, along with the many benefits that we have received due to the use of electronics in communication, there are also many detriments. As seen with the mechanical translators, it is nearly impossible for machines to keep up with the perpetually evolving nature of the human race. Language changes constantly and new words and connotations are added at such a rapid rate that there is no way to rely solely on mechanical translators; human translators will always be a necessity. Humans also program the languages, they keep the machines as up-to-date as possible. The most efficient way for mechanical translators to run and keep up with ever changing languages around the world is to be programmed by something that has the ability to keep up with all of these changes in real time. This something is humans. Humans will be needed for translation now, and for many years into the future.
Another problem that arises from mechanical translators is the potential for miscommunication. Context is an important aspect to consider within communication and is something done best by the human mind, not a machine. Machines have a high probability of interpreting words incorrectly or providing a word that may share the same denotation as a more appropriate word, but has a completely different connotation. This problem is only made worse by the different meanings a single word has in different languages, which makes it increasingly difficult for mechanical translators to accurately translate every input into a comprehensible output.
When addressing electronic communication in general, there are also flaws that arise within this topic. The main problem is access to electronic information by those who wrongfully obtain this information. This is highly detrimental to the victims and for the entirety of the population utilizing electronic communications. The victims can suffer from identity theft which can cause the loss of financial security, personal information, and even homes. The consequences of these crimes are long-lasting and the crimes are hard for police and other law enforcement groups to solve and close. Because hacking and identity theft is a relatively new problem that arose with the rise of electronic communication, there have not been highly developed ways to deal with and prevent unauthorized access to electronic information. Although we will learn how to deal with this flaw as we become more familiar with the true extent of electronic communication, new flaws will develop and continue posing problems in the future.
Communication is ubiquitous. Electronic communication is essentially ubiquitous and people have truly benefited to a large extent from this form of communication. Unfortunately, electronic communication isn’t perfect. Sometimes texts do not deliver. Sometimes emails get sent to the spam folder and you never see them despite the fact they may contain useful information. And sometimes, documents are poorly translated by mechanical translators. Sometimes, critical meaning is lost in translation. Sometimes, social media accounts are hacked. Sometimes, social security numbers are stolen. In the end, electronic communication is obviously flawed and compromises our privacy, and we need to learn to be aware of these flaws and protect ourselves from them, even if it means double-checking whether a message sent or even paying for a high-end computer security program. The vulnerabilities are out there, and they will not cease to exist so we must work to keep them as sedated as possible.