Unintended consequences of translation technologies: from project managers’ perspectives

Akiko Sakamoto

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Recent years have seen the advance of increasingly efficient translation and translation-related technologies such as neural machine translation and crowdsourcing-style translator procurement platforms. These AI, big-data and algorithm-driven online systems are hailed as successes in the media- and technology-vendor-led public discourse. However, in light of the notion of ‘solutionism’ (Morozov, 2013), there may be a risk that unintended adverse consequences of these technologies on users remain obscured. As a result, a correct assessment of the influence of technologies on human actors may become difficult. In order to identify such unintended consequences of translation technologies, the present article explores technology users’ perceptions about how the technology is affecting their business practice. The discussion draws on data collected in a focus group study with 16 translation project managers. The study reveals that project managers are feeling a high level of uncertainty and unease about the effects of technology when they talk about business practices, particularly in the following areas: translators’ use of MT, pricing for post-editing, post-editors’ profiles and skills and technology-induced new power struggles in the industry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-73
JournalPerspectives: Studies in Translation Theory and Practice
Issue number1
Early online date22 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2019


  • translation technology
  • focus group
  • language service providers
  • project managers
  • machine translation
  • paid-crowdsourcing


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