"Do translators dream of electric brains?"

by Prof Ricardo Muñoz Martín, University of Bologna

Update: the event has now finished (Apr 16th 2021).


We cannot know whether Artificial Intelligence exists because we do not know yet what intelligence is. The way computers process natural languages is not really the way humans do it. Artificial neural networks have but a small, distant ressemblance with our brains’ biological structures. But, why should that matter? Researchers studied the flight of birds to develop the first planes. Birds and planes never were too similar and time has only separated them further. Biomimicry is inspiring, but evolutionary solutions are not necessarily the best for our machines. Furthermore, it leads to notions of competitiveness between humans and machines, not to symbiosis. A large portion of CAT research has focused on why people mistrust or dislike applications and systems. But, shouldn’t we be asking were did we go wrong? What do we know about the effects of digital tools on translators and their working ways? In order to develop practical applications with potential real-world use for translators, we need to approach the tasks in their natural(istic) environments, with a view on avoiding cognitive friction and to implement human in the loop testing that will ensure better pairings of humans and their digital tools.

Speaker’s bio

Ricardo Muñoz Martín is a (now seldom practising) freelance translator since 1987, ATA certified for English-Spanish in 1991. He studied at 6 European and American universities until 1993, when he was granted a PhD from UC Berkeley. Prof Muñoz lectured at 7 American and Spanish universities before he joined the Department of Interpreting & Translation of the University of Bologna, Italy. There, he directs the Laboratory for Multilectal Mediated Communication & Cognition (MC2 Lab), devoted to the empirical research of multilectal mediated communication events from the perspective of Cognitive Translatology—a theoretical frameowrk drawing from situated cognition. As a visiting scholar or guest speaker, Prof Muñoz has travelled widely in Europe, America and China. He is also a member of the TREC and HAL networks and co-editor of the journal Translation, Cognition & Behavior.


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