Forming Reliable Translation-Interpretation Professionals in a Brave New Digital World

In the past three centuries, there were three Industrial Revolutions impelled by technological advancements.  Today we are experiencing a fourth: an era of digital interconnectedness known (for its German origins) as “Industrie 4.0.”

We have lived through these Revolutions as Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and most recently iGen—the first “tech kids” socially interlinked from birth in a world aglow with smartphones.

Today, concepts and constructs undreamt of only yesterday—AI (Artifical Intelligence), Big Data, the Internet of Things (IoT)—zap us into tomorrow almost before we can catch their gist. Nothing even slightly past is current enough for where we are heading.  Staid academe—still adjusting to “flipped classrooms” and “blended learning”—is now told to spurn its faith in the efficacy of imparting and acquiring knowledge, and focus solely on developing demonstrable skills.  What matters is not what one “knows” but what one “can do.”

Translators-interpreters must wonder what this means for a profession where knowing much and always learning more are essential; where competence in translating/interpreting is only part of serving a client and the profession well; where reliability, discretion, and trust are vital. This paper explores the qualities and values translators-interpreters need in tech-driven times.


Richard Finks

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Professor Richard Finks teaches at the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, where he directs the Master’s Program in Translation and Interpretation in English and Spanish. Born and raised in the United States, he did preparatory studies in England, undergraduate work in Missouri, and graduate study in Virginia. 

To date, he has over 40 years of experience as a professional educator primarily in the areas of language, literature, linguistics, translation, and world culture.