The Unrelenting Case of Human v. Machine: The Verdict on Legal Document Translation Services

Since the beginning of time, naysayers have cautiously forewarned others of the potential dangers of rapid societal or technological advancements. Even in the depths of the Paleolithic Era, one can almost visualize the tribe’s most cynical member waning as the first sparks of fire exploded from the colliding of stones. This notion has been repeated innumerable times since the days when the most primitive human beings walked the Earth. From the invention of the first practical telephone, all the way up to legal document translation services performed by Google Translate.

Case of Human v. Machine for Legal Document Translation Services

The fear of change is real, as is the fear of the unknown. Recently, the age-old case of human v. machine has sparked new debates with language technologies like ChatGPT and Google Translate. As a best-in-class language services provider with access to the most experienced and educated translators and linguists in the world, ASTA-USA Translation Services decided to put an end to this great debate—once and for all, particularly when it comes to critical legal document translation services.

Exhibit A: Purpose and Intent of Legal Documents

Human: Because our legal translators are also attorneys, they understand the intent, purpose, and proper application of each word they are relaying from one language to another. Their profound mastery of legalese and the law allows them to create airtight legal materials that convey the same message between languages, while also ensuring that they are equally enforceable within domestic and international courts.

Machine: Language technologies like ChatGPT and Google Translate have immense knowledge databases, but they are only as good as the data that they are trained with. Nearly all of the language technologies and software systems in existence today rely heavily upon a process known as Neural Machine Translation (NMT). Essentially, NMT aims to emulate the human brain’s functionality by creating myriad categories of data with deep layers and subsets. Even with recent advancements, the underlying technology is rather infantile and one wrong word can lead to an entire nonsensical document translation.

Exhibit B: Speed and Precision with Legal Document Translation Services

Human: Deadlines within the courts are heavily enforced and missing a deadline due to a delayed translation could cost a legal team their entire case. We have saved numerous legal organizations from disaster with less than a 24-hour turnaround period. As the “ER” of the translation services industry, we specialize in making it happen—without sacrificing precision or localization. After all, the singular word “not” and its omission or inclusion determines whether a person retains their freedom or spends their life behind bars.

Machine: Google Translate and ChatGPT provide instantaneous results. Legal professionals can translate entire documents in under 30 seconds, at no cost—or so it seems. Despite the convenience and accessibility, there have been instances where free translation fails have cost companies their reputations and millions in legal settlements or lost profit. Although haphazard with general translations, the real quandaries arise when industry jargon and complexities associated with localization are interjected into the equation.

The Final Verdict: ASTA-USA Rules in Favor of Humans for Legal Document Translation Services

When it comes to translating legal materials, ChatGPT and Google Translate are no match for expert human translators and linguists in conducting legal document translation services. Despite their speed and easily accessible nature, their inability to comprehend intent, purpose, localization, and complex industry jargon makes them more of a risk than a commodity for legal professionals. Nevertheless, these technologies do have their place in today’s technologically advanced world. If reserved for inconsequential translations while vacationing abroad or for entertainment purposes, they can provide everyone with a basic ability to communicate beyond their own devices.

In need of legal document translation services and want to learn more about the services offered by ASTA-USA’s expert legal translators and linguists? Inquire now or call us at 1.866.446.1860.