Ethics in the changing world

In February, I attended a great AUSIT Webinar by San Berner about Ethics and artificial intelligence. I must say it was a great eye opener for myself and my colleagues who attended the event.

We live in the machine era and we need to be prepared to face the challenges it may bring, including to our work ethics. Everyone uses machine translation. People use Google Translate for everything and even translators use CAT tools, which in reality makes them post editors rather than translators. But where does our Code of Ethics stand in this new world of machine translation?

To be accepted by NAATI, AUSIT, CIOL or any other professional accrediting body we need to comply to a Code of Ethics, each body usually has its own, but in reality, they don’t vary much around the world. This code requires us to work ethically, which means, we should be professional and trustworthy, we should not certify or charge for a translation we haven’t done, we should maintain our language skills and professional development.

It’s easy to see that some of these things may be challenging if you are using a machine translator to carry out your work. One of these challenges is signing “our own translations”. It is not ours anymore, in reality, the machine translated it and we post edited it. A machine can’t be judged on its professional development, nor can it be evaluated on their skills, so basically, we got an issue here.  But we can’t say our colleagues who use CAT tools are unethical, they just conduct their business using the tools currently available to them.

Personally, I don’t use CAT tools. They were spoken about when I did my course, but I’ve decided not to use them. I am a NAATI Certified Translator and when I need to certify translations, I print a copy of the original on the reverse page and I also stamp it with a statement saying that was it is the original from which the translation was made. I never send scanned certified documents, nor I publish photos of my NAATI stamp.  This way I try to ensure no alterations will be made to the document under my stamp without my knowledge and that my credentials cannot be forged.

In my opinion, to tackle this problem and to make sure our Associations and their Codes of Ethics are updated and in sync with the real world, we should all get together and make this a team effort. Maybe instead of having several Codes of Ethics for several Associations, they should all work together for a global Code of Ethics to be put in place worldwide. Things like the use of machine translation should be carefully evaluated and regulated to accommodate this new way of working.

At the end of the day, the world is changing, and it’s changing fast. It is our duty to keep up with these changes and make sure we create a better environment for our professionals.

The original article was published on NAATI’s website.

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