Reflections on a Nice MT Summit in Nice, France

Posted by: Dr. Alon Lavie, Co-Founder, President & Chief Technology Officer

I just got back a few days ago from the MT Summit 2013 conference, which was held this year in the very appealing setting of Nice, on the French Riviera.  MT Summit is the largest and most significant international conference exclusively dedicated to automated language translation technologies and their broad application to intelligent multi-lingual information and communication solutions.  The conference is sponsored by the International Association for Machine Translation – the coordinating body of the three regional associations for machine translation in Europe, the Americas, and Asia.  It rotates between the three continents every two years, and is hosted and organized by the regional association in the region of which the conference is held.  The conference is unique in bringing together all the major stakeholders in this complex technological field – academic researchers working on the science behind MT, commercial developers of MT software, and the major users of the technology in business and government.  It’s this mixing of people involved in the science and in real-world applications that makes these conferences particularly interesting.

This MT Summit meeting clearly demonstrated how significantly MT technology is gaining in use in an increasingly broad range of commercial business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C) and governmental (i.e. UN, EU) communication applications.  This was clearly reflected in the participant demographics, and was also evident in the presentation topics and the discussions that they generated.  Attendance, at around 230 people this time, has been growing, but this was the first MT Summit meeting where commercial developers and users of the technology outnumbered academic researchers working on developing the science behind it – a sure sign of a maturing technology.  Participants included representatives from a broad range of commercial enterprises, including a growing number of commercial language service providers (LSPs), and global enterprises that are adopting MT technology, such as eBay, Autodesk, SAP and others.

Strong topic themes at this year’s meeting included the integration of MT within human translation environments and tools, human post-editing of MT by professional and crowd-sourced translators, measuring the productivity and ROI of MT post-editing projects, adaptation methods for improving translation quality for different types of content, and efforts at commercial enterprises and LSPs to apply MT and MT-based processes to a broadening range of content-types and use cases.

Safaba and our partner LSP Welocalize gave a joint presentation within the user track at the conference. We presented the results of a jointly conducted analysis study of translator post-editing of Safaba’s EMTGlobal™ translation systems that are deployed for the Dell Corporation.  Our presentation, titled “Analyzing and Predicting MT Utility and Post-Editing Productivity in Enterprise-scale Translation Projects” analyzed post-editing productivity and looked at factors related to source content that impact both MT system performance and post-editing productivity.  We also explored the feasibility of predicting post-editing effort using small samples of post-edited MT output.  The presentation highlighted the effectiveness of EMTGlobal’s Advanced Adaptation Technologies on post-editing.  I plan to share some details of this interesting study in a separate posting soon.

At the closing session of the conference, IAMT revealed the locations of it’s upcoming conferences.  Both EAMT and AMTA will hold conferences in 2014.  The next MT Summit conference in 2015 will be held in North America, and will be hosted and organized by AMTA, on behalf of the IAMT.   The conference will take place in Miami, Florida, in October 2015, in proximity and in coordination with the Annual Conference of the American Translator Association (ATA).  As the incoming IAMT President, it will be my responsibility to lead the organization of MT Summit-2015, together with my colleagues on the AMTA Executive Board.   A daunting task, but one that I am excited about, and looking forward to executing.

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