Will AI replace translators?

Artificial Intelligence expert Kai-Fu Lee recently created a Risk-of-Replacement Graph that predicts the order in which various job categories will be eliminated by AI. The doomed careers in the graph’s “Danger Zone” include telemarketers (yay!), cooks, truck drivers, cashiers, and “basic (entry-level) translators.”

It’s true that there’s not much of a market for low-quality human translations, since that’s something Google can provide for free. But high-quality translation work of the kind provided by Localization Ninja will continue to be in demand for at least several more decades. Here are some reasons why:

  • Quality is important to many translation buyers (and all of our clients), and high-quality translation work still requires a lot of experience, creativity, and world knowledge that cannot be duplicated by AI.
  • By closely reading and understanding the source text, professional localizers offer a lot of value beyond translation. For example, we can transcreate, propose alternative wordings, and spot errors in the source document (we always find at least one).
  • Multinational corporations (our main clients) are, frankly, rich and are willing to pay for quality.
  • As an empirical fact, demand for translation and localization continues to grow faster than the economy as a whole, and the industry doubles in size every decade.
  • Every year translators get better and faster (thanks to technologies like AI!).


  1. Robert

    Unfortunately, elimination of telemarketers simply means elimination of *human* telemarketers. We’ll now be subject to AI telemarketers, which might be even worse if my recent experiences with the Xfin*ty Assist*nt are any indication.

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