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Experts Explores the Future of the Translation Major in the Era of Artificial Intelligence

Date: June 7, 2019








On May 25, the School of English Studies hosted a forum on the “Challenges of Artificial Intelligence and the Development of the Translation Major”. 16 experts from three fields, i.e. translation teaching and theoretical studies, translation techniques and its application and translation service industry, were invited to discuss the development of the translation major in the era of artificial intelligence.

At the opening ceremony, speeches were delivered by Feng Qinghua, vice principal of SISU, and Sun Huijun, deputy dean of the School of English Studies (SES) of SISU, on the opening ceremony, which was chaired by Han Ziman, professor from the SES. Attendees included Liu Heping, professor from Beijing Language and Culture University, Hu Kaibao, professor from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Wang Jianhua, professor from Renmin University of China, and leaders from the Translation Department of China International Publishing Group Training Center, Shanghai Language Services Center for Cultural Trade, Wenzhuo Translation and LocaTran Translation.

Experts each voiced their opinions on the theme. Liu Heping, professor from Beijing Language and Culture University, made a keynote speech entitled “Human-Computer Cooperation and the Cultivation of Language Service Talents in the Era of AI”, noting that the rapid development of artificial intelligence posed new challenges to the training of professionals for language service industry and of translation majors, and that “human-computer cooperation” could be an effective way to cope with such challenges. Besides, she pointed out that the translation major is currently facing the problem of homogenization. Therefore, diversified development and development with special characteristics should be promoted, and universities should integrate career planning and practical techniques into translation teaching in order to fully play out a university’s potentials in serving society.

Subsequently, Hu Kaibao gave a speech on “MTI Talents Cultivation in the Linguistic Intelligence Era”. He made an in-depth analysis of the challenges and opportunities for MTI students under the development of linguistic intelligence. He also put forward strategies on talent training, course setting and faculty construction, and suggested establishing a personnel training system that could adapt to the intellectual development. 

Wang Jianhua offered his opinion on the “Opportunities and Challenges for Translation Research Offered by Artificial Intelligence”, arguing that apart from challenges, artificial intelligence could also open up new areas for translation studies such as machine translation, man-machine cooperation translation, translation evaluation, translation application research and multi-modal intelligent terminal translation.

There is no doubt that translators and translation researchers should enhance their competitiveness in order to survive in the artificial intelligence era. Fu Jingmin, professor from Shanghai University, and Mu Lei, professor from Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, voiced their opinion on “Application Translation Research under the Context of AI” and “the Development of MTI Education in Respond to the AI Era” respectively. They pointed out that AI could provide various research perspectives for applied translation and suggested ways to develop MTI programs so as to meet the needs of the artificial intelligence era.

Mao Jun, general manager of Shanghai Language Services Center for Cultural Trade, and Zhao Yu, general manager of Wenzhuo Translation, shared their suggestions of cultivating professional translators on the basis of their years of working experience. Students are advised to take part in specific practical projects in order to master translation technologies. Teachers are advised to  take temporary posts in translation agencies or companies to keep up with the industry’s requirements for translators. They believe that translators, in order to cope with challenges, still need solid language skills and communicative skills in the AI era.

During the afternoon session, speakers exchanged views on topics such as artificial intelligence and translation teachers, curriculum design, and human and robot translation. Based on their own teaching experience, Li Defeng, professor from University of Macau, and Han Ziman started discussions on “Artificial Intelligence, Translation Techniques and Capacity Building for Translation Teachers” and “Professionalization of Translation Teachers” respectively, emphasizing that university translation teachers should enhance their own translation literacy, to which all the experts present agreed. From definitions to exemplification, Xu Bing, associate professor from Shandong Normal University, shared opinions on “Destructive Innovation in Translation Industry and Translators’ Adaptation” and proposed ways to actively respond towards innovation of such nature. In “From Undergraduate Translation Major’s Editing Skills to Curriculum Design”, Zhao Bi shared the SES’s experience in the design of undergraduate translation programs, to which Liu Heping and Mu Lei responded positively. Zuo Renjun, vice-president of LocaTran Translation and Lin Fanlin, director of the Translation Department of China International Publishing Group Training Center, respectively talked about the “Status of Using Machine Translation Technology in Translation Corporations” and “Changes of Translation in the Era of Artificial Intelligence”, contributing insights from the industry on the development and integration of translation techniques from both social and occupational points of view. Afterwards, Zhang Xiaojun from Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University shared his latest research findings under the topic “Ethics of Artificial Intelligence and Development of Translation Techniques”, which drew great interest from all the experts present. At last, Xiao Weiqing, professor from the SES, concluded the session with “Concepts and Realization: The Absence of Translation Techniques in GB Code Standard and Its Presence in Teaching Guidance”.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of SISU. The university has always been in line with China’s strategic development and connected with cutting-edge technology. The SES adheres to SISU’s aspiration to progress, to pioneer and to innovate. In the face of new situations and new challenges, it has always stood at the forefront of the times and led the development of the English major in China. Likewise, the SES has responded to the calling of the AI Era by reforming its translation curriculum and integrating technological innovations.



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