Innovative Solutions or Lost in Translation? Pros and Cons of AI Interpreting at Conferences

Innovative Solutions or Lost in Translation? Pros and Cons of AI Interpreting at Conferences
February 7, 2024

You’ve been planning your spring and summer conferences for months and are eager to bring your diverse team and international stakeholders together. This conference brings forth many opportunities for everyone involved. The prospect of diverse conversations, unique perspectives, and a myriad of ideas makes the event promising. But wait – how will this diverse group of individuals overcome language barriers and seamlessly communicate? 

Enter Artificial Intelligence (AI) interpreting, the futuristic solution designed to seamlessly bridge linguistic gaps and transform this lively conference into a melting pot of ideas. Yet, as we navigate the challenges of AI-driven language translation, its advantages are met with a few bumps in the road, revealing both the promise and the challenges of this cutting-edge technology.

Why are People Opting for AI? Pros:

Efficiency in Presentation-Style Scenarios: AI interpretation shines in scenarios where information is presented straightforwardly and without interruptions or engagement from an audience, such as keynote speeches or presentations. Its real-time capabilities ensure that participants can seamlessly follow and understand the content without delays or interruptions.

Cost-Effectiveness: One of the most significant advantages of AI interpretation is its cost-effectiveness. AI offers a more economical solution than hiring human interpreters for multiple languages, making it an attractive option for conferences with budget constraints.

Continuous Availability: AI interpretation operates 24/7, providing ongoing language support throughout the duration of the conference. This ensures accessibility for participants across different time zones, eliminating the need to schedule interpreters for specific time slots and accommodating last-minute changes or additions to the agenda.

Capacity for Handling Large Volumes of Data: AI’s ability to process extensive data and information makes it well-suited for conferences with substantial content, such as technical seminars or industry conferences. It ensures accurate and efficient interpretation, even in events with complex subject matter or dense presentations.

Facilitation of Decision-Making: AI’s aptitude for identifying patterns and trends can contribute to faster decision-making processes during conferences. AI interpretation can provide valuable insights and facilitate consensus-building among participants in situations requiring quick and informed decisions, such as during panels or strategy sessions.

AI Interpretation Limitations – Cons:

Limitations in Interactive Scenarios: AI interpretation may struggle in scenarios that require active audience engagement, such as interactive workshops, breakout sessions, or question-and-answer segments. Its rigid algorithms and lack of adaptability can hinder its effectiveness in facilitating dynamic and spontaneous interactions between speakers and attendees.

Challenges with Technical Terminology: Conferences often involve specialized terminology and industry jargon, which may pose difficulties for AI interpretation. The complexity and specificity of technical language can result in inaccuracies or misunderstandings, particularly in fields with highly specialized vocabulary or niche topics.

Lack of Adaptability to Unforeseen Challenges: AI interpretation relies on predefined algorithms and patterns, limiting its ability to adapt to unforeseen or unexpected situations. In dynamic conference environments where issues may arise spontaneously, such as technical glitches or changes to the agenda, AI interpretation may struggle to provide timely and effective solutions.

Inability to Capture Nuances and Emotions: Unlike human interpreters, AI cannot capture subtle nuances in language, humor, or emotional cues, which are integral to effective communication and rapport-building. As a result, AI interpretation may fall short in conveying the full depth and context of spoken language, leading to potential misunderstandings or misinterpretations.

Cultural Sensitivity and Relevance: AI interpretation may not fully grasp the cultural nuances and sensitivities that shape communication and understanding. In multicultural conference settings where cultural differences play a significant role, AI may struggle to accurately convey context-specific meanings or cultural references, potentially leading to communication breakdowns or misunderstandings.

Accuracy in Less Common Languages: While AI interpretation excels in more common languages with abundant training data, it may encounter accuracy issues in less widely spoken or minority languages. The scarcity of linguistic resources and training data for these languages can impact the quality and reliability of AI interpretation, posing challenges for conferences with diverse language requirements.

Trust and Ethical Considerations: There are ongoing concerns regarding the accuracy, reliability, and ethical implications of AI interpretation, particularly in sensitive or high-stakes conference settings. Trust in AI interpretation may be undermined by issues such as bias, privacy concerns, or the potential for misinterpretation, highlighting the importance of transparency, accountability, and ethical standards in AI development and deployment.

Don’t Forget About Translation

In addition to interpreting, the significance of translation should not be overlooked. Translating crucial elements such as agendas, presentation slides, signage, and other materials ensures a cohesive and inclusive conference experience, as these aspects are often the first signs for attendees that your event will be truly inclusive. 

While effective for simple agendas, AI translation, such as Google Translate, may require careful consideration for specific technical terminologies, highlighting the importance of a comprehensive human-lead, tech-enabled approach.

Trust INGCO With Your Spring and Summer Conferences

It’s essential to recognize that AI interpretation may not be suitable for every aspect of a conference. While it excels in straightforward presentation-style scenarios and can efficiently handle large volumes of data, it may struggle in interactive settings that require dynamic engagement and nuanced communication. Additionally, its effectiveness may vary depending on the complexity of technical terminology and the cultural context of the conference participants.

Despite these challenges, AI interpretation can still play a valuable role in enhancing the conference experience, particularly when used in conjunction with human interpreters or as a supplementary tool for specific language requirements. By leveraging the strengths of AI interpretation while mitigating its limitations, conference organizers can create more inclusive and accessible events through a human-lead, tech-enabled approach.

Whether you choose to incorporate AI services into your Spring and Summer conferences or opt for a balanced combination of human and AI options, trust INGCO—a language service provider committed to your success. We offer versatile solutions that cater to your unique needs, ensuring that your conferences transcend linguistic barriers and foster inclusivity for all participants, making your event a true success.