“The Future of Work: Four Generations Working At Once, Plus Machines”

(“The Future of Work: Four Generations Working At Once, Plus Machines” as published in Newco Shift Forum 2018)

Screen Shot 2018-05-20 at 1.27.36 AM

To begin, I would highly recommend that you read the full article published at shift.newco.co (The Future of Work – Article). The article made me think again about past discussions that are still relevant today, almost 10 years since I first addressed this topic.

Quoting Liz Mathews (Dell Brand and Advertising): “Ageism is actually something we must address and put on the forefront because baby boomers are staying in the workforce longer. Millennials are making way for Gen Z. For the first time ever, we have four different generations in the workforce… [and] we must be prepared to interact with machines, no matter your age, your role, or your lifestyle.”

Talking about the new relationships that are starting to develop between humans and machines, Liz Matthews states: “… the future actually favors the young… the majority of leadership roles will be filled with digital natives. As human-machine partnerships grow, this won’t only be a workplace issue but potentially a societal issue… human-machines will work together as integrated teams within the next five years.”

In the language services industry, this human-machine partnership includes, of course, machine translation. But it does not stop there. All the developments in artificial intelligence and voice recognition will soon come together and offer commercially-viable solutions for the larger masses. Translator and interpreter roles will change (have already) to functions other than they used to be 50 years ago. As much as any other profession, we must change with the times to accommodate to our environment. Acquire the new tools, learn to use them, get familiar with their advantages and disadvantages, go through the learning curve (there is always a learning curve) as soon as possible.

Academia should have all these changes already inserted in their curriculum because the digital natives who will be working in the language services industry in 10 years will need skills different than the skills I acquired 40 years ago. That is a reality and we need to specify what those skills need to be, what the new work parameters are, what our marketplace will look like in a decade, which clients we will “loose” to technology and which new clients we will “gain” from it. How will our clients’ needs change as their needs to communicate with their international customers and staff change? How will we help our clients circumnavigate all these changes?

Translators, interpreters, LSP, and others in the language services industry: let’s ask ourselves how the changes happening in “relationships” are impacting us, directly and indirectly. As mentioned at nauseum in my posts, a tectonic shift has already occurred in our world, in term of our personal relationships and our professional environment. A shift in the way we humans communicate with each other. A shift in the way we understand the world (now known to be the physical world and the digital world, both “real” worlds). A shift in the way humans relate to inanimate objects and “intelligent machines” — to the point of “co-dependency” if we were talking about two humans in the relationship. It has already happened and it is part of the “real” world of a generation known as the “digital natives”(*) – who will most probably be the ones running our businesses in the coming decades.

(*) Digital natives are persons born after the prevalent use of “digital technology” and who as children have grown up using technology such as computers, mobile devices and the internet. For these individuals, their “online world” is an integral part of their identity. Their “native language” is not only English or French or even Swahili but rather a combination of a primary tongue with the language of computers, videos, video games, social media and all other digital media.

All the above said, those of us in the language services industry must become better prepared to respond to the communication needs of this new generation. Their expectations are much different from the expectations of, say, the Baby-Boomer generation. I am a baby boomer and our generation came of age in the 1960s (half a century ago!). Our means of communication, our culture, and our relationships expectations are totally different from those of Digital Natives. We see technology as a tool (many see it as a “negative” tool). The younger generations see the digital world as an extension of their physical being. They communicate with each other and among themselves in ways we might find offensive or un-natural (our bias). They connect at a pace, intensity, depth, and breadth that seems to be incomprehensible for the “slower” (older) generation.

As part of the “older” and “slower” generation, I believe we must start “listening” more to the needs of the future than trying to “hold on” to the ways of the past. Just saying.

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Scrum Master? What the heck is that?!

[Image credit: Varunm.com]

I was looking at my LinkedIn feed and happened to see a paid advertisement from a job site looking for a “Scrum Master.”  It caught my attention because I had absolutely no idea what a Scrum Master was! In a “previous life” (several decades ago) I was a project manager, so my surprise was double when I found out they defined it as NOT being a Project Manager. Well, I would have not even thought that PM had any relationship with SM.  Scrum Master sounded like something in the Healthcare Industry…… well, it is not. From the website TechTarget, I have learned that

“… a scrum master is a facilitator for an agile development team. Scrum is a methodology that allows a team to self-organize and make changes quickly, in accordance with agile principles.”

So, you might say:
–Why would translators and interpreters care?
I would respond:
–Really? Do you need to ask?

First, we need to be aware of what is going on in the world, and in the world of business in particular. Terminology is part of our lifeline.

Second, “Scrum Master” talks to the dramatic changes occurring in the business world itself. The concept of “agile development teams” is central to this new profession.  I guess Project Managers are so 20th century! Think about that. The term agile development  has very specific connotations related to the shift of power to the “product owner.” Think about that. The “product owner” has the say.

Additionally, the Scrub Master “is not held accountable for outcomes. The team as a whole is responsible for outcomes.”  What a concept, eh? No more “leaders” solely responsible for outcomes but the team as a whole.  Sports kind of got that notion from the get-go.

There is an entire methodology around “agile development.”  Because agility has come to the forefront of how we do things in the 21st century. That is why the entire business model of translation and interpreting needs to be re-thought.  Because, as it stands, it is anything BUT agile. I see some companies struggling to understand how to best render services in an interconnected digital world. That is a good start, but we need to move fast.

One thing is clear: we must become “Agile Organizations” (full disclosure: my company is NOT!… yet).  Those of us who are not AGILE enough to “sprint” (yes, a term with a new connotation too) have a larger chance of falling behind. As we look at the business models we have been using for the past 50 years and try to make them AGILER, we must also accept that certain processes will no longer be needed, new strengths have to be developed, and new delivery mechanisms are urgently required.

Parenthesis: Freelance translators and interpreters: we are micro-enterprises. We, too, need to change our business model to adapt to the times. I don’t have the answers.  I have no idea what is best and what is not, except to know that we MUST BECOME TECH-SAVVY A.S.AP.! That should be our priority right now as freelancers. This becoming tech-savvy translators and interpreters is just a basic step to be able to “participate” in the language industry of the future (the very near future, by the way).

I  believe we have an expiration date if we don’t change soon.

What think you?

 

Interpreters learn from actors

Interpreting in 2018 is becoming progressively more of an audiovisual experience in remote encounters, than the face-to-face meetings of the past. As such, in my opinion, there is one issue that interpreters of the 21st century need now more than ever: EMPATHY, the ability to understand and SHARE the feelings of another human being.

As a trained actor from my days of youth, I believe that many of the techniques that are used by actors should be used by remote interpreters; as conduits of the thoughts of another being, those thoughts never exist in a vacuum. Thoughts are intimately related not only to our culture and the patterns of our society but also to our feelings, for thoughts control feelings (and feelings influence thoughts).

Google Books


Meisner acting

Good actors make us suspend disbelief and see THROUGH them the character that they are portraying. We see those “other” human beings (they portray) in all their strength and frailty because the actors are able to get themselves “out of the way” and BECOME a true conduit of the thoughts and feelings of the character they portray.
Good actors, therefore, achieve selfless results (i.e., we see “another” instead of the actor) by developing total EMPATHY for their character. So too, it is my belief, that we, as interpreters, are conduits for the expression of another’s words and feelings. In that sense, it is too little to ask that we “simply” convey words.  We MUST convey the words in total accuracy, but we must ALSO convey the thoughts and feelings that are attached to those words. EMPATHY allows us to do so, or at least to try our best.  It is this human-ness that will indeed separate us from the likes of bilingual Siris!

In accordance with the website “Skillsyouneed.com“:

Empathy is, at its simplest, awareness of the feelings and emotions of other people. It is a key element of Emotional Intelligence, the link between self and others, because it is how we as individuals understand what others are experiencing as if we were feeling it ourselves

Three Types of Empathy

Psychologists have identified three types of empathy: cognitive empathy, emotional empathy and compassionate empathy.

  • Cognitive empathy is understanding someone’s thoughts and emotions, in a very rational, rather than emotional sense.
  • Emotional empathy is also known as emotional contagion, and is ‘catching’ someone else’s feelings, so that you literally feel them too.
  • Compassionate empathy is understanding someone’s feelings, and taking appropriate action to help.

So, how do we develop EMPATHY?  There are many techniques and exercises.  I found some very interesting by Martha Beck, appropriately called The Empathy Workout:

[Excerpts]
EXERCISE 1: LEARNING TO LISTEN
…start with conversation. Once a day, ask a friend, “How are you?” in a way that says you mean it. If they give you a stock answer (“Fine”), repeat the question: “No, really. How are you?”   You’ll soon realize that if your purpose is solely to understand, rather than to advise or protect, you can work a kind of magic: In the warmth of genuine caring, people open up like flowers….

EXERCISE 2: REVERSE ENGINEERING
Some mechanical engineers spend their time disassembling machines to see how they were originally put together. You can use a similar technique to develop empathy, by working backward from the observable effects of emotion to the emotion itself.  Think of someone you’d like to understand…Remember a recent interaction… Now imitate, as closely as you can, the physical posture, facial expression, exact words, and vocal inflection they used during that encounter. Notice what emotions arise within you. What you feel will probably be very close to whatever the other person was going through…

EXERCISE 3: SHAPE-SHIFTING
In folklore, shape-shifters are beings with the ability to become anyone or anything. As a child, I was fascinated by this concept and used to pretend that I could instantaneously switch places with other people, animals, even inanimate objects… I recommend you try it, soon. See that strange man in the orange polyester suit putting 37 packets of sweetener into his extra-grande mochaccino with soy milk? What if—zap!—you suddenly switched bodies with him? What would it be like to wear that suit, that face, that physique? What impulse would lead to sugaring a cup of coffee like that, let alone drinking it?

EXERCISE 4: METTA-TATION
World-class empathizers…conduct a daily regimen of metta, or lovingkindness, meditation. This involves focusing all of one’s attention on a certain individual and offering loving wishes to that person with each breath you take, for several minutes at a time. Classic metta practice starts with your own sweet self. For five minutes, with each breath, offer yourself kind thoughts… Then switch the focus of your kind thoughts onto a friend or family member. When you feel a sense of emotional union with that person, target someone you barely know….


ACTION ITEM:  Give it a try!

Remote Interpreting: The Elephant in the Room (by Barry Olsen)

Remote Interpreting: Feeling Our Way into the Future Published by The ATA Chronicle New communications technologies make interpreting available where it wasn’t in the past. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the way we will work remotely, because what’s going on is game changing and shaking our profession from top to bottom. In April […]

via Remote Interpreting: The Elephant in the Room — A Word In Your Ear

What a Difference Three Decades Make!

Preamble for translators and interpreters: Maybe (just maybe) machines will not replace “all” human translators and interpreters, but all of us will be replaced by some language experts using the latest technologies. It is therefore paramount to play catchup and get on-board with actions to become technologically savvy without delay!

I recently read an 11/29/17 Washington Post Article by Marwa Eltagouiri about an 84-year-old physician who lost her license to practice medicine because she refuses to use a computer, thus failing to comply with New Hampshire State Law on medical record-keeping protocols. In reality, the case centers more around the opioid epidemic and this physician’s inability to meet the State’s electronic drug monitoring program regulations. Whatever the situation, the entire case goes to underline the “electronic” (vs. paper) component that is clearly at the heart of the issue. Regardless of what the physician believes, it is now the law to keep electronic records. That is how fast the world has moved forward in ascertaining the cyberspace as the “factual” space, as well as modern technologies as the underpinning supports for some interactions.

Although some discussions are still going on as to whether doctors have it “better” or “worse” today as a result of this technological revolution, such disagreements are do not change the fact that things “are” what they are.

Just 30 years ago –which, in historical terms, is a short period– the National Institutes of Health via NCBI still wondered if doctors had a positive or negative attitude towards computers! From those “opinion pieces,” we now see ourselves working in a world completely different from the one for which most “older” physicians were preparing 30 or 40 years ago. Everyone in the healthcare and medical fields has had to “suffer” through a very steep technology-learning curve, especially in the last two decades. In 1999 I was working at a large insurance company that employed many nurses and doctors, and I remember all of them saying they would never -ever!- use computers.

Life is not a straight line. At the end of the last century (Wow! that sounds like a long time ago!), we were implementing (*) Y2K conformity requirements, (*) the newly instituted HIPAA provisions (or equivalent efforts in other parts of the world), and (*) the novel C.L.A.S. mandate (and other cultural competency efforts around the globe). In the last 15-20 years, these monumental programs were incorporated into our routine and are now a “mainstream” aspect of our daily life.

My point, then, is that our “way of life” –our daily activities as we perceive them today– is a concept that must be re-evaluated constantly as internal and external forces change and shape it into something different than what we were “used to” just a few years ago. The rate of innovation brought about by the accelerated developments in available technologies is speeding up such rate of change. I look at my grandkids, and all of them were born after Y2K. Even for my adult children, the Cold War is a remote history lesson. Yesterday, TCM showed a movie from my youth and talked about the cinematographic importance of this “classic.” Statistically speaking, a hundred years ago I would have been dead already for a couple decades, as life expectancy for women did not even reach 40 years old!

We must at all times be aware of our surroundings, which includes perceiving, understanding, and adapting to the technological changes (extraordinary and progressive) going on around us!

Aug 6 – Easy & Fun Project Management

Aug 6 – Easy & Fun Project Management for the Freelancer in the 21st Century

Click here to register for this Live Webianar via ProZ.com

This hands-on experience allows you to learn simple techniques that make the process of organizing your work a FUN activity instead of a tedious chore.

Are you always struggling to deliver your work on time with the highest quality? Have you avoided seeking or receiving large projects because you feel intimidated? Would you like to be more productive and have some peace of mind? Then don’t miss learning this easy and fun way of managing your projects as a freelancer.

project management

Big projects may be your wish in terms of income, but they can become overwhelming. Even small projects may be intimidating if we have too many of them and don’t know how to prioritize the work. And then there is all the other “stuff” you never have time to tackle, like improving your billing or filing systems to be more productive. Acquire easy to use tools that help you be your own nagging boss, that allow you to have a clear picture of how to run the project and how it should look once it is finished, and to estimate the time needed for completion. All this while having fun!
Follow the link attached!
This 90-minute hands-on workshop provides simple and fun ways to manage your projects. At the completion of the workshop you will have acquired a fail-safe method of organizing your workload, by setting up a repeatable process, learning to focus on the essential aspects of your job, and helping you acquire skills to set reasonable priorities as well as long-term goals.

Machine Translation 101 – Translators & Interpreters talk a lot (good and bad) about Machine Translation. Few really know what it is.

Image

19th Century Image: “Tsunami” by Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾北斎)

BrauerTraining Newsletter # 1

June 2013

(Subscribe to our newsletter! goo.gl/AAX5K)

 

The world’s first pocket calculator.

The Abacus was developed around 2000 BC. It took humans some four thousand years to create electronic calculators, which appeared in the 60’s (see above). It then took just 10 years to develop and popularize a pocket-size device. Today, calculators are integrated as part of computers, PDAs and smartphones.


Machine Translation 101

by

Claudia Brauer

I will open our first newsletter with a quote from Carl Sagan, a scientist and author who has deeply influenced my vision of the world:

“I do not think it irresponsible to portray even the direst futures. If we are to avoid them we must understand that they are possible. Where are the alternatives? Where are the dreams that motivate and inspire? We long for realistic maps of a world we can be proud to give to our children. Where are the cartographers of human purpose? Where are the visions of hopeful futures of technology as a tool for human betterment and not a gun on hair trigger pointed at our heads?”

― Carl SaganPale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

I have also decided that our first topic needs to be one of the most controversial subjects in the translation and interpreting industry today: Machine Translation. Shying away from the discussion will not resolve the issue of our survival as a viable profession in a future progressively driven into technology. I believe we have to stop seeing technology as our enemy and rather start embracing it, working with it, influencing its development, becoming co-creators of the tools we will be using in the next decades.
If we want to avoid a dire future as professional translators and interpreters, we must understand that such future death by inaction is possible and then set out to create the alternatives.
We must become the new cartographers of our future purpose in the industry. We have to make sure we remain relevant. That we are seen as useful and essential. There are segments of the industry that clearly think we are replaceable. What are we doing to show them otherwise? Staying in our comfort zones will not solve the dilemma.
We cannot continue hiding in the sand and think that just because we do not want it, it will not happen. Rather, we must face the scary challenge posed by progress and run to catch up for the decades we have been complacent while the rest of the industry became digital, mobile and instant.


A pale blue dot

(Above) Earth: A pale blue dot in the immensity of space

In 1990, at the request of Carl Sagan, NASA commanded the Voyager 1 spacecraft to take a photograph of Earth from a record distance of about 3,700,000,000 miles. The resulting photograph was titled the “Pale Blue Dot” because earth is shown as a tiny little dot against the immensity of space.

We, professional translators and interpreters, are but a pale blue dot in the sea of information that needs to be communicated in multiple languages worldwide. We can only control our own response to the sea of change.

It still is the survival of the fittest.


Kaijo no Fuji (Tsunami, or The Big Wave) by Japanese painter Katsushika Hokusai

Language & Translation Automation Conference (LTAC) – Proceedings

Recommendation # 1:

Download these proceedings for free at http://goo.gl/zlDFf and read them!

This is an eBook in pdf format that collects the 2011 discussion by “some of the most prominent experts from academia and the language industry worldwide [who] met in the Great Hall of the LUSPIO University in Rome, under the auspices of the Faculty of Interpreting and Translation and the Directorate-General… ” for the European Master’s in Translation (EMT).
This Language and Translation Automation Conference (LTAC) “was convened with the goal of gathering the most innovative ideas and initiatives on language automation, translation technology and terminology, with an emphasis on controlled languages and controlled authoring in academia and in the language industry.”
I have not finished reading the document yet, but still I recommend you all start reading it too. It is a very good window into the present of the translation industry. It collects some important thoughts and visions for what I call our potential future (if we survive as a professional species). It also explains in layman’s terms some of the obscure aspects of Machine Translation.
Ignorantia legis neminem excusat (ignorance of the law excuses no one). Ignorance of MT is no excuse for you (to ignore the developments happening in the Language Services world).
Step # 1 in your learning curve, therefore, is to learn about the tools you will need to remain relevant in the professional world of tomorrow!

(The picture selected by the authors for the cover, “…describes the modern conflict between the forces of nature and the fragility of man. For us it meant the desire to ride exceptional forces, to win the awe they bring, and draw energy and strength.”
Valeria Cannavina & Anna Fellet)


So…. is Google Translate

“THAT” bad?

“Of course!” cry the Translators and Interpreters.

“Actually it is pretty good,” says my american friend working in China, who uses it to get “the gist” of many documents of possible interest to her, written either in Mandarin or any of a couple of dozen dialects. “I use it at least 10 times a day….and it really helps me out to understand what the general content is about.”

“I use it all the time,” says my relative, a top executive at an international logistics company in the port of Miami, one of the busiest in the USA. “We all use Google Translate all day, to know if we are dealing with invoices or purchase orders, to see if it is a request for us to make a shipment or to receive a shipment… I just need to know more-or-less what the words say… I do not need full-text, perfect translations… I understand many terms are wrong, but I really do not care… I do not have the time or the money to pay for a translator… when I really need something important translated, then I send it out, and accept the wait and pay the price. But that is not very often.”

Welcome to the 21st Century. The “gist” and “understand more-or-less what it says” are the rule for the masses. We are increasing quality control in industries such as healthcare and legal. We are having the fight of our lives to at least hold these two industries to a high standard. We are dealing here with lives of people “on the spot”. Quality is of the essence here.

But for most people in the masses, a “kind-of” translation is good enough.

So, another suggestion, if you want to get the “gist” of what Machine Translation is, head on to the vilified Wikipedia (I actually use when I need to get the “gist” of a topic… sounds familiar?)

http://goo.gl/63LSp – Why not dedicate a little time to educate yourself?

(Above) Josh Estelle a Google Translate engineering leader

A recent article published in CNET News by Stepehen Shankland (http://goo.gl/d8zZh) conveys the reality of Google Translate (vs. what some translators would like it to be):

“Google Translate provides a billion translations a day for 200 million users…”

One thousand million translations a day!

That surely is mainstream.

Two hundred million users!

That surely is mainstream.

“The amount of text Google translates daily is more than what’s in a million books, and surpasses what professional translators handle in a full year,” stated Josh Estelle, a Google Translate engineering leader.

He also noted that 92% of usage is outside the United States (that may explain why translators and interpreters in the USA have such a limited view of how extensive its use is in other parts of the world).

The internet is “expanding gradually to other languages, helped in part by technological change … [since] 2008, Google launched the ability to translate any language to any other language,” stated Estelle.

Google Translate is currently working on better quality for Machine Translation as well as ubiquity: “No matter where you are, you should have access to a translation.”

They are also working on real-time multi language communication:

“We want you to be able to translate things instantly,” from and into any language, said Shankland.


So, translators and interpreters….how are WE adapting to this change in the marketplace?

What do we offer today that is a value-added to what people get with Google translate?

How are we marketing such value-added?

How are we differentiating ourselves from Machine Translation and the likes of it?

In a market where everyone (including you, dear reader) likes to save a buck or two,

think about how you are going to face the ever-expanding competition of the likes of Google Translate (yes, there are many), in the next five years.


I believe that just as a potential Fourth Wave of democratization is brewing worldwide, so too there is a Huge Wave of changes related to the democratization of translation and interpreting.


Those in the profession who fail to see this wave may very well perish under its weigh.
Others will learn to ride it.
Others will harness its power.

Claudia Brauer